One of the most sublime and delightful finds on New York City’s youth-infused jazz scene is the Zack Foley Quartet. The combo, all in their 30s—vocalist Foley, Jesse Elderon piano, Chris Tordinion bass, and Devin Gray on drums—can shift in mode or mood with felicity, from beguilingly relaxed to heavy improv to what they call their signature Zen-like “jazz/rock/chant.”
On their debut studio recording entitled LMSW, this long-standing band fearlessly explores their working songbook. Rollicking solos from all members abound. Renditions of songs such as Pearl Jam’s Release, Thundercat’s Is It Love?, and Radiohead’s Morning Bell coax out shadings of heartbreak and loneliness, hinting at life’s impermanence. “I’m very involved in the mindfulness tradition of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh,” Foley admits, “and I have benefitted from his encouragement to take it easy on things that perpetuate craving and pain.”
The band, nonetheless, seems to summon a melancholy undertow that inevitably evolves, resolves, transcends. And perhaps the most melancholic—and effectively disarming— a facet of the quartet is Foley’s heartfelt vocal style. He is at once vulnerable, nuanced, and mournful. His attitude is ironic, defying romantic convention. He strips away the neat sentiments we associate with jazz standards and exposes the bare meaning—even
artifice—at their root. The result is to reveal songs as small treasures, often tinged with the acknowledgment and acceptance of loss, songs that sparkle amid the otherwise cynical cacophony of the age.
There are no traditional love songs on this record. As the album title suggests, the band chooses to explore more layered subject matter like parent-child relationships, release from oppression, and liberating insight. On the classic ballad Old Folks, Foley bends the lyrics towards a description of someone close to home. The original John the Captive aspires to bring light into darkness and is a nod to Foley’s day job as a social worker.
Betty Carter’s 30 Years is a reflection on the ending of a marriage. Unborn and
Indestructible explores Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings on interconnection and
impermanence, while a playful rendition of These Foolish Things shimmers with the band’s dark sense of humor, paying homage to David Lynch’s masterpiece “Twin Peaks.”
Vulnerable. Mournful. Zen-mindful. It is no wonder, then, that Foley, an LMSW, works on an inpatient psychiatric unit. There is a depth of spiritual wisdom, psychic insight and struggle, and meditative practice that inform the music, throughout.
Hall’s second album as a leader, set for release February 9, 2018 from Outside In Music,
beautifully melds trombone and flute, chamber music and jazz, passion and complexity
“James Hall and his band [have] an eclectic, but inviting, voice. Their music is accessible, but weaves in and out of some of the highest realms of Jazz and Classical tradition.”
– Makoto Fujimura, International Arts Movement
Intricately weaving together voices, melodies, ideas and genres, Lattice is the alluring and inventive sophomore release from trombonist/composer James Hall. Due out February 9, 2018 from Outside In Music, the album is built around the harmonious combination of Hall’s dexterous trombone and the virtuosic flute playing of Jamie Baum, a study in contrasts that proves remarkably pliable and expressive through Hall’s inspired vision.
Lattice follows Hall’s acclaimed debut, Soon We Will Not Be Here, in which he and his Thousand Rooms Quartet set the work of contemporary New York City-based poets to Third Stream-inspired music that struck a delicate balance between modern jazz and contemporary classical music. Lattice eschews the vocals of its predecessor and veers in a more recognizably jazz direction, though Hall’s richly detailed writing maintains the sophisticated architecture of chamber music without forsaking the passion and propulsion of the best modern jazz.
To achieve those ends, Hall enlisted a skilled band with an elusive chemistry to breathe life into his compositions. In addition to Baum, he’s joined by keyboardistDeanna Witkowski(Donny McCaslin), bassistTom DiCarlo (Claudio Roditi, Sean Jones), and drummerAllan Mednard (Kurt Rosenwinkel, Aaron Parks). On two tracks the band is supplemented by in-demand saxophonistSharel Cassity (Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis), whose fiery alto adds a new flavor to the often more contemplative styles of Hall and Baum.
A lattice necessarily begins with two pieces crossing, and for Hall that second piece was his now-wife, Kristen, to whom Lattice is dedicated. Their romance, engagement and marriage provided the spark that inspired him to begin writing this music. “I wanted to compose a project for two voices,” Hall explains. “The idea of two voices in close counterpoint seemed like a nice parallel to the love story that was happening in my life at the time. It all came together with the interweaving of melody lines reflecting the interweaving of two lives.”More direct musical inspiration came from a few sources that Hall had long admired. One was legendary trombonist/composer/arranger Bob Brookmeyer’s writing for two voices, exemplified by his work with Stan Getz and Jim Hall. Another was the interplay of bass trombone and flute on Herbie Hancock’s classic album Speak Like a Child. Baum shared Hall’s love for that album, and their bonding over it was key to her signing on for the project.
Two strands are not enough to make a latticework, however, and as a number of pieces intersect to form a pattern, so Hall’s project expanded to encompass other voices and inspirations. He crossed paths with Mednard while both were touring with the retro-pop ensemble Postmodern Jukebox, while DiCarlo was suggested by Baum. Witkowski was introduced to Hall at the release concert for Soon We Will Not Be Here, and her interest in his music was matched by her gifts for interpreting it on both piano and Rhodes.
The scale of Hall’s concerns expanded and intersected as well. While a new love – not to mention wedding planning – can be all consuming, eventually the outside world intrudes. Never has that been more true than in recent years, as a project conceived on an intimate personal scale inevitably took on a broader scope as harsh realities came to light. The injustices brought to light by the Black Lives Matter movement and the divisive aftermath of the 2016 presidential election forced Hall to widen his perspective. Again, Herbie Hancock proved inspirational; Speak Like a Child was released in the politically tumultuous year of 1968, its hopeful call for a more childlike and loving perspective a conscious refutation of the day’s clashing ideologies.“It’s a pretty album produced at an ugly time,” Hall says. “So as the world was sliding into an abyss and I was working on what for me was ‘pretty’ music, I was thinking of Herbie as a precedent.”The lilting melody of “Shoy” opens the album, tipping its hat to another form of interweaving – the hybridization of grapes to create new wine varietals. While living in Germany more than a decade ago, Hall worked on a vineyard that specialized in the Sheurebe grape – the title is a transliterated shortening of the name – which is a cross between Riesling and Silvaner. Cassity’s supple alto kicks off Joe Henderson’s familiar “Black Narcissus,” which floats on Witkowski’s airy Rhodes while being driven by Mednard’s subtly roiling rhythm. The title track is patient about bringing its divergent voices together, finally melding into a hopefully melodious theme at the song’s halfway point. The simmering swing of “Brittle Stitch” muses on the fragility of any relationship and the care and attention they require, while “Gaillardia” does some of that work by hinting at Hall’s wife’s maiden name in the form of a flower.
The elegiac “Traveler” is dedicated to the composer’s great-uncle, whose passion for roaming the world and unconventional pairing with Hall’s great-aunt both offered models to emulate. “Kind Folk” is one of a few gorgeous Kenny Wheeler tunes that entered Hall’s songbook after the late trumpet great served as artist-in-residence during Hall’s time at Lawrence University, while the bluesy “Terrace,” featuring the full-throated moan of Hall’s muted trombone, closes the album with a portrait of his adopted neighborhood in Brooklyn.”A lattice is made up of many intersecting parts,” Hall concludes. “As this project matured, even if I composed a piece thinking about myself and my wife, the lattice grew to incorporate everyone I met, everyone I engaged with. It touches on the question of where I sit in the lattice that is New York City, or on a larger scale, that is America in the 21st century. I take heart in the fact that there can be as many strands and intersections in a lattice as there are people or relationships in my life. Maybe it starts with me and my life or my family, but it doesn’t have to end there.”
A trombonist and composer from Nebraska based in New York City, James Hall is a versatile musician and composer whose projects have spanned jazz, classical, Latin, and popular music. As a composer and bandleader, James was named a finalist in the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Competition, won three ASCAPlus Awards for composition, and was a featured performer/composer at the 2012 Chelsea Music Festival. He has appeared on several recordings with Postmodern Jukebox, with whom he has toured Europe and the United States. His first CD as a composer/bandleader, Soon We Will Not Be Here, was released in October 2013 and featured his Thousand Rooms Quartet. James holds degrees from the Lawrence Conservatory of Music in Wisconsin and Aaron Copland School of Music in New York. His teachers have included Luis Bonilla, Hal Crook, Michael Dease, Nick Keelan, Ed Neumeister, and Fred Sturm.
For more information, please visit,jameshallmusic.com
* Featuring Steve Wilson, Ron Horton, Shoko Nagai, Scott Hardy, Michael Sarin, and Satoshi Takeishi *
“Ša composer of emotional depth and effortless lyricism.” –DownBeat “Getting lost in this music is simply a joy.” – AllAboutJazz “A crafty, lyrically minded improviser and a compelling composer…” – The New Yorker “…achingly beautiful…a level of intimacy that is rare today in jazz.” –JazzWax.comCD Release concert at Jazz at Kitano in Manhattan on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018
Pianist and composerLeslie Pintchik found the title for her new album in one of those “only in New York” moments. While crossing Canal Street at West Broadway in the SoHo section of Manhattan, she heard a voice behind her yell, “You eat my food, you drink my wine, you steal my girl!” As it happened, she’d just completed writing a new composition, and at that very moment she knew she’d found its title. It was a perfect fit for the sharp-elbows vibe of the piece, with its samba-funk groove, understated humor and fender-bender of an ending. So with one gruff shout, serendipity handed her a bold, spunky title, for a bold, spunky tune.
With its implied but elusive narrative and personality to spare, the outburst also turned out to be a perfect title for Pintchik’s new recording, which features six of her original tunes and two standards. As on her five previous albums, Pintchik has penned a collection of songs overflowing with warmth, humor, tenderness, depth and smarts – without forsaking her razor-sharp edge. Pintchik is unique in combining a brisk energy and drive with a gift for accessible, infectious melodies – like that overheard accusation, her music strikes a unique balance between the sharp-edged and the charming. You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl! will be released February 23, 2018 via Pintch Hard Records.
In his liner notes for the CD, Allen Morrison writes “As a composer, [Pintchik is] like a novelist, unspooling each song like a good story with twists and turns, and with a story-teller’s patience and sense of form. And, like a good novel, her songs appeal to both the head and the heart; they are subtle, sometimes wry, sometimes somber. I think they’re not-so-buried treasures, waiting to be discovered by other jazz artists.” In addition, the wide range of grooves (samba-funk with a touch of partido alto, swing, bolero, traditional samba, straight-eighths, and ballads-all played with exceptional skill and pizzazz by Leslie and her top-notch band members) is a great added pleasure.
For this outing, Pintchik returns once again with the musicians with whom she has played and recorded for many years: Steve Wilson on alto sax, Ron Horton on trumpet and flugelhorn, Scott Hardy on bass and guitar, drummer Michael Sarin, and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi. On accordion, Shoko Nagai is the newcomer and a wonderfully intriguing addition to the mix. Recalling the recording session, Pintchik said “I had the time of my life playing with these extraordinary musicians and people, all gems and superb players.”
“You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl!” is not the only mouthful of a title on the album. It’s topped by “Your call will be answered by our next available representative, in the order in which it was received. Please stay on the line; your call is important to us,” which should instantly raise the blood pressure of anyone who’s ever wasted hours of their life on hold to fix – or at least attempt to – a problem that’s already wasted too much time. Fueled by that all-too-common experience, the tune swings hard with a fervor born of equal parts frustration and an antic comic spirit. Special kudos to the rhythm section for its drive amidst the unexpected stops and starts.
From the playful to the poignant: Pintchik’s ballad “Mortal” was written, she says, “to express a sense of life’s fragility, beauty, and especially shortness.” A highlight of the set, “Mortal” showcases a fearless use of space and silence, and gorgeous heart-on-the-sleeve solos from Pintchik, Wilson, Horton and Hardy. (Of particular note is Horton’s flugelhorn solo, which is both beautiful and wrenching.) On the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, “Happy Dog,” as its name suggests, is a cheerful tune. Shoko Nagai plays the melody in unison with Pintchik, and the samba-based rhythm provides a simpatico backdrop for the wonderfully frisky solos of Pintchik, Hardy and Takeishi.Like Pintchik’s tunes, Edward Hopper’s paintings are renowned for suggesting stories not quite told in full within the confines of their canvases. A tune with a straight eighths time feel that features Shoko Nagai on accordion, “Hopperesque” was inspired by the iconic artist’s work, especially those paintings that depict people in the kind of threshold moments that provoke the viewer to wonder what happened before, and what might come after, the scene we’re presented with. “I’ve tried,” Pintchik says, “to capture that feeling of mystery.”One of the earliest tunes written for the album, “A Simpler Time” was inspired by the composer’s trip to the Hancock Shaker Village in Massachusetts, where she was touched by the rare adult cradles that she saw, used to soothe the elderly and infirm. Pintchik characterizes the piece as “an adult lullaby.” In his liner notes, Morrison writes “There’s an emotional maturity to it that seems to acknowledge that life itself is not simple, that we are often overwhelmed with hard choices and mixed emotions, and we have a universal need for kindness. As with so many of Leslie’s songs, the melody is memorable, but not simple.”Approaching the album’s standards with the same unique perspective and wry insight that she brings to her own tunes, Pintchik plays the jazz and pop standard “I’m Glad There Is You” as a bolero, which affords the melody of this love song a lot of breathing room. In his liner notes to the CD, Allen Morrison writes “It’s one of the most tender readings of this great song (by Jimmy Dorsey and Paul Madeira) that I’ve ever heard.” The Jerome Kern/Otto Harbach chestnut “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” is played as a samba, with an added catchy rhythmic hook that bookends the melody. This version features a wonderfully relaxed rhythm section that, in the ending tag, builds up a strong head of caffeinated Brazilian steam, before the rhythmic hook returns, and it’s over and out.
Leslie Pintchik Short Bio Before embarking on a career in jazz, Leslie Pintchik was a teaching assistant in English literature at Columbia University, where she also received her Master of Philosophy degree in seventeenth-century English literature. She first surfaced on the Manhattan scene in a trio with legendary bassist Red Mitchell at Bradley’s, and in the ensuing years Pintchik formed her own trio which performs regularly at New York City jazz venues. Pintchik’s debut CD So Glad To Be Here was released in June 2004, followed by Quartets in 2007.
About So Glad To Be Here, Ken Micallef wrote in DownBeat “Pintchik’s music is fresh, full of light and instantly invigorating (4 stars).” In the fall of 2010, she released her third CD We’re Here To Listen, as well as a DVDLeslie Pintchik Quartet Live In Concert. Jim Wilke, creator of the nationally syndicated “Jazz After Hours” radio show included We’re Here To Listen on his “Best CDs of 2010” list, and the jazz journalist and scholar W. Royal Stokes included both projects in his “Best of 2010” list. Pintchik’s fourth CD In The Nature Of Things was released on March, 2014. Steve Futterman, in The New Yorker magazine, called it “…one of the more captivating recordings to come out so far this year…”, and Gary Walker of WBGO jazz radio called it “…a gorgeous display of the trio.” In his review of Pintchik’s fifth CD True North-released in March, 2016-Dan Bilawsky in AllAboutJazz.com wrote “Leslie Pintchik’s music has a magical draw to itŠ Getting lost in this music is simply a joy. If 2016 has a more pleasurable listen to offer than True North, this writer hasn’t heard it yet. (4 1/2 stars)”
In addition to composing the music for her band, Leslie has also written the liner notes for some notable recent jazz CDs, including Duologue by saxophonist Steve Wilson and drummer Lewis Nash (on the MCG label), and Daybreak by pianist Bruce Barth (on the Savant label).
“Way out kats and kitties will know how to groove here in this sonic world where nothing is what it seems.”
– Chris Spector (Midwest Record)
The word innovative and groundbreaking is dished out a lot these days but in this project, the facts speak for themselves.
Mn’JAM experiment is a multi-medium performance that places visual arts and music at the same level in an environment where performers’ interactivity goes way beyond instruments and music and reaches out to the visual and digital world.
Far-removed from the traditional role of a singer, M (a TC-Helicon ambassador) has created an innovative place for live looping by incorporating it in the band. That and the use of effects, wordless songs, vocal improvisation and looping textures augment the potential way by which this singer can intervene with the music and express herself making it possible to also act as an instrument.
In this project, JAM opens up a completely new category within live performance. Besides controlling electronic sounds, he is an alive visual artist that acts as a musician. This happens because JAM is on stage pressing buttons, rotating knobs and turntables, “playing” with the band as if he is one of the musicians, but more than sounds, his actions also influence the visual art on screen and even lighting on stage. This way, JAM can improvise visually or even create a visual unison with the band, having the knowledge and proficiency of a musician but reaching out to new mediums with his visual art output.
Mn’JAM experiment released their album “Live with a Boom” in 2016 and have presented it all around the world in jazz festivals in the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Nepal, Egypt, Romania, India, to name a few. They truly believe that after decades of jazz innovators concentrating on the development of musical elements (melody, rhythms, harmonic progression etc) this genre is the perfect vehicle to lead a new world of performance where the same proficiency, expressiveness and creativity can be expressed live through digital and visual elements. They will be performing for the first time ever in the United States and what better way to test their concept than with collaborations with renowned artists such as Greg Osby and Casey Benjamin.
January 19th, 2018 – Arts + Literature Laboratory,
— MORE 2018 Mn’JAM Performances —
– January 17, 2018 – Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia, PA
featuring Greg Osby
(including a workshop in the afternoon as part of the Meet the Masters series)
– January 18, 2018 – ShapeShifter Lab, Brooklyn, NY
With more than five years since their last release, TheLao Tizer Bandhas taken the time to grow in every aspect. An updated larger band is exploring some new methods on their upcoming CD/DVD combo, Songs From The Swinghouse: recorded live in just three days at Conway Studios in Hollywood, the band explores three cover tunes with vocalist, a first for the group, alongside original instrumental tracks, bringing them to new heights of excellence and exuberance.
Featuring a thoughtful and at times surprising choice of tracks, while adding to an already stellar lineup of players with the addition of a seasoned vocalist, this is an album that has set a new path for the band and its dedicated fans. Songs From The Swinghouse features eight blistering original instrumentals and three iconic classic rock songs with reimagined arrangements. “We’ve never done anything with a vocalist and we’ve never done any cover songs, so this is the first time that I decided to delve into that realm, to basically expand the scope of our music,” says Tizer. Critically acclaimed music-film director, Andy LaViolette (Snarky Puppy, Bokante, David Crosby, etc), documented the entire session in a simultaneous, 8-camera HD video shoot for the included DVD.
From the 2007 album Diversify, which showcased the multi-faceted richly textured musicality of an already celebrated career, to 2009’s Passages in which the keyboardist and composer focused on a minimalist expression of his musical journey in a virtually solo piano recording with the barest of accompaniment, and then back to a pulsating full band on the 2012 release Downbeat, this ensemble of world-renowned musicians has taken Tizer’s vision to a new level on the latest album. The jazz and world-fusion group now adds rock to its repertoire with a sizzling new collection of eleven songs.
Hailing from Boulder, CO, with a career that now spans nine albums over nearly a quarter of a century — he was a teenage prodigy — Tizer is the son of hippies with a Russian-Jewish background, and the mix of that ethnic family heritage, parental new age influence and growing up with the sights and sounds of ’80s and ’90s pop culture (alongside the music of the ’60s and ’70s he heard from his parents) have brought him to a place in his artistic life where he was ready to embrace a wider range of influences and stretch himself and his players to pull off such an ambitious project.
If the choice of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On,” U2’s “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” and Cat Stevens’ “Sad Lisa” seem astonishing, Tizer’s arrangements render them almost entirely original. They are taken to the transcendent through the warm and soulful vocals of Tita Hutchison, who sang with the likes of Michael McDonald, Rick Rubin, Michael Jackson, and Foreigner, among others.
Hutchison joins Tizer’s regular collaborators who are celebrated in their own right: Chieli Minucci, the three-time Emmy-winning and Grammy® Award-nominated guitarist and composer; Grammy® Award-winning saxophonist Eric Marienthal, who is a permanent member of the Chick Corea Elektric Band; longtime member and EWI/saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Steve Nieves; and violinist Karen Briggs, who has graced the stage with Yanni, Diana Ross, Wu-Tang Clan, Chaka Khan and more. Tizer also credits the powerhouse rhythm section (bass players include Grammy® Award-nominee Ric Fierabracci and Cheikh NDoye, Grammy® Award-nominated drummer Gene Coye, and percussionist Munyungo Jackson) with underpinning the dynamic force and arrangements for the project.
The group in fact stretches to 15 members at times with the addition of a string quartet, horn section and a marimba player. Just watching the video of “Metropolis” shows the vast ambitiousness of the undertaking, the concentration of so many musicians in the studio playing live together and feeding into work that was so much grander than the breathtaking individual performances, while the sultry and intimate duet — just piano and violin — on “Forever Searching” reminds the listener and viewer of the purity of Tizer’s jazz beginnings.
“It was all recorded live at Conway Studios,” Tizer says. “So this is as authentic as it could possibly be. It’s a star-studded cast, a lot of pros, and they all came in with their A-game. We got just the right mix of players in the band at this time to make this particular set of music come to life and be artistically deep in an accessible way. And that’s always what my favorite music has been — well written, well composed, but also with that room to stretch, that’s the improvisation and the jazz of it.”
Tizer praises each musician for his and her contribution to the whole. Conceptually focused while always generous as a composer, arranger and band-leader, Tizer produced Songs From The Swinghouse on his own and wrote all of the instrumental tracks himself, aside from one co-write, “A Prayer For Unity” with the band’s other guitarist, Jeff Marshall. They wrote it just after the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015, and the significance at this particular time amid current events is imperative for Tizer. “It’s a message that the world needs on a much more macro level, and music is one of those few mediums that can bridge some gaps.”
It’s also a nice counterpoint to the groups Gospel, funkified arrangement of U2’s, “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” the civil rights-inspired song that Tizer had loved since first hearing it in the movie In The Name Of The Father. “Ramble On” was, says Tizer, “the one tune I wanted to do because I’m not sure that there’s any classic rock group more iconic than Led Zeppelin, and I wanted a song that we could take and put our stamp on, which I felt really strongly that we could with that tune, take it to another place.” As for “Sad Lisa,” dedicated on the album to the late daughter of a friend, “I had Cat Stevens’ album Tea For The Tillerman since I was in high school, and right away I knew I could do something with that.”
The evolution of the Lao Tizer Band is revealed joyously in Songs From The Swinghouse. Now incorporating a vocalist into the recording and touring band, the road ahead is enthralling to the group’s founder. “I spent my whole life writing instrumental music, and now I’m working on original material for the group including vocals.” Ultimately, Lao Tizer eschews being formulaic. “I try and just stay true to my muse and to use every bit of my facility to create great music that hopefully has its own voice and continues to evolve as I continue to evolve as a person. It’s very reflective of me, it’s all I’ve done all my life.”
The Lao Tizer Band U.S. Performances
January 20 | Spaghetinni Jazz Club | Seal Beach, CA
February 9 – 10 | Myron’s Cabaret Jazz @ The Smith Center | Las Vegas, NV
February 24 | Punta Gorda Wine & Jazz Festival | Punta Gorda, FL
March 9 | The Baked Potato (LA RELEASE SHOW) | Studio City, CA
March 10 | Oxnard Performing Arts & Events Center | Oxnard, CA
March 22 | Desert Willow Golf Course | Palm Desert, CA
March 28 | Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill & Jazz | Bel Aire, CA
April 21 | Chino Hills Jazz & Blues Festival | Chino Hills, CA
April 27 | Bakersfield Jazz Festival | Bakersfield, CA
May 11 | Atlas Center for the Performing Arts | Washington, DC
** more dates to be announced **
The Lao Tizer Band · Songs From The Swinghouse
Yse Records · Release Date: March 16, 2018
For more information on Lao Tizer, please visit: LaoTizer.com
Iconic composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and his Golden Quintet Perform Music from America’s National Parks
Saturday, January 27 at University of Virginia as part of Smith’s
Impulse Festival residency
“A trumpeter and composer of penetrating insight.”– Nate Chinen, The New York Times
Iconic composer, trumpeter and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Wadada Leo Smith and his Golden Quintet – Smith, pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg, drummer Pheeroan akLaff, and cellist Ashley Walters along with video artist Jesse Gilbert – will perform music from Smith’s masterwork America’s National Parks on Saturday, January 27 at the University of Virgina’s Old Cabel Hall as part of the school’s Impulse Festival.The performance is part of the group’s residency, which includes a public talk, a gallery exhibition of Smith’s Ankhrasmation scores, workshops by Quintet members and more. The performance takes place at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for the general public, $13 for UVA faculty and staff, $10 for students and free for UVA students in advance from the UVA Box Office. For a full schedule and more information, log on to http://music.virginia.edu/impulse-festival.
America’s National Parks is a six-movement suite inspired by the scenic splendor, historic legacy, and political controversies of the country’s public landscapes. Cuneiform’s 2-CD recording of the work was named the Jazz Album of the Year by DownBeat’s 65th International Critics Poll and was at or near the top of most annual lists of best releases. JazzTimes wrote that the album “unites political engagement with a soul-deep connection to nature… rich with ineffable majesty, [the suite] fully engages with tensions at the heart of the American experience.”
Wadada Leo Smith
Trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and improviser Wadada Leo Smith is one of the most boldly original and influential artists of his time. Transcending the bounds of genre or idiom, he distinctly defines his music, tirelessly inventive in both sound and approach, as “Creative Music.”
For the last five decades, Smith has been a member of the legendary AACM collective, pivotal in its wide-open perspectives on music and art in general. He has carried those all-embracing concepts into his own work, expanding upon them in myriad ways.
Throughout his career, Smith has been recognized for his groundbreaking work. A finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, he received the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award and earned an honorary doctorate from CalArts, where he was also celebrated as Faculty Emeritus. In addition, he received the Hammer Museum’s 2016 Mohn Award for Career Achievement “honoring brilliance and resilience.”
In 2017 Smith topped three categories in DownBeat Magazine’s 65th Annual Critics Poll: Best Jazz Artist, Trumpeter of the Year and Jazz Album of the Year, and was featured as the subject of a cover story in August 2017. The Jazz Journalists Association also honored Smith as their 2017 Musician of the Year as well as 2017 Duo of the Year for his work with Vijay Iyer. The JJA named him their 2016 Trumpeter of the Year, 2015 Composer of the Year, and 2013 Musician of the Year, and he earned top billing in two categories in the JazzTimes 2016 Critics Poll: Artist of the Year and Composer of the Year.
In October 2015 The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago presented the first comprehensive exhibition of Smith’s Ankhrasmation scores, which use non-standard visual directions, making them works of art in themselves as well as igniting creative sparks in the musicians who perform them. In 2016, these scores were also featured in exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Kadist in San Francisco.
Born December 18, 1941 in Leland, Mississippi, Smith’s early musical life began at age thirteen when he became involved with the Delta blues and jazz traditions performing with his stepfather, bluesman Alex Wallace. He received his formal musical education from the U.S. Military band program (1963), the Sherwood School of Music (1967-69), and Wesleyan University (1975-76).
Smith has released more than 50 albums as a leader on labels including ECM, Moers, Black Saint, Tzadik, Pi Recordings, TUM, Leo and Cuneiform. His diverse discography reveals a recorded history centered around important issues that have impacted his world, exploring the social, natural and political environment of his times with passion and fierce intelligence. His 2016 recording, America’s National Parks earned a place on numerous best of the year lists including the New York Times, NPR Music and many others. Smith’s landmark 2012 civil rights opus Ten Freedom Summers was called “A staggering achievement [that] merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supremein sobriety and reach.”
The Impulse Festival
The Impulse Festival is sponsored by: McIntire Department of Music, McIntire Department of Art, Arts Administration, Gassmann Fund for Innovation in Music, Acquavella Family, Office of the Provost & the Vice Provost for the Arts, UVA Arts Council, President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences’ Collective Response: Moving Forward committee, Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, Charlottesville Jazz Society, Office of the Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity, Hampton Inn and Suites, University Programs Council and WTJU Radio.
Project Pays Homage to Turkish
Jazz Impresario Mehmet “Memo” Uluğ (1959-2013),
Inspired by Avant-Garde
Jazz Legend Butch Morris (1947-2013)
& Poet Amiri Baraka (1934-2014)Features Jason Moran, Orrin Evans, Nasheet Waits,
Craig Harris, Jaribu Shahid & More
At Amiri Baraka’s funeral in 2014, Saul Williams recited a poem imploring the iconic poet, author and social critic to “get out of the coffin” and continue his important work. Sadly, Baraka was beyond hearing the younger poet’s words, but they did reach the ears of one of his closest collaborators: saxophonist David Murray.
Williams’ impassioned reading made such an impression on Murray that a day later he was on the phone, proposing a new collaboration. “Saul was one of the most dynamic speakers at the funeral,” Murray recalls. “His words were violent, but Baraka used violent words too.”
Williams sent several of his works to Murray, mostly pieces that were soon to be published in his politically scathing 2015 collection, US(a.), which powerfully confronts issues of race, class, gender, economics and culture in modern-day America. The saxophonist responded to the poet’s words with his trademark vigor, resulting in their new album, Blues for Memo, due out February 2 (digitally). Recorded in Istanbul at the end of a three-week European tour by request of the legendary Turkish producer Ahmet Uluğ, the album features a stellar band – pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Jaribu Shahid, and drummer Nasheet Waits – performing road-tested versions of these newly-penned compositions. Trombonist Craig Harris, keyboardist Jason Moran, guitarist (and Murray’s son) Mingus Murray, kanun player Aytac Dogan, and vocalistPervis Evans offer striking contributions as well.
Blues for Memo was commissioned by Ahmet Ulug, of Pozitif music in Istanbul to commemorate his late brother Mehmet Uluğ – affectionately known as “Memo” – who co-founded the music promotion company Pozitif (with a third partner, Cem Yegul), and opened the well-known Istanbul club Babylon. Pozitif opened the doors to experimental jazz in Turkey, and have presented such artists as David Murray, Butch Morris, Sun Ra and Pharoah Sanders. The album is a labor of love from Murray to the Ulug brothers in response to their many years of friendship and support. Saul Williams knew Memo from his shows in Babylon in the late ’90s with saxophonist Ilhan Ersahin’s Wax Poetics project.
The session also provided an opportunity to pay homage to another longtime Murray collaborator, conduction innovator and cornetist Butch Morris, who lived and taught in Istanbul for several years in the late 1990s. Williams adds his words to “Obe,” one of nearly 30 Morris compositions that Murray has recorded over the decades. “We were all really close,” Murray says. “So we all put our heads together and ended up making a tribute to Mehmet and Butch Morris at the same time.”
The union between Williams and Murray becomes even more meaningful as it allows the two to continue poet Amiri Baraka’s mission. “As someone who had grown up extremely familiar with and inspired by the works of Amiri Baraka, I was honored when David asked me to work with him,” Williams says. “I stepped into this very much aware of the fact that I was collaborating with someone who had worked with Amiri.”
When Williams began performing in the mid-90s, as part of the thriving New York slam poetry scene, he consciously avoided working with jazz musicians. He saw the pairing of poetry and jazz at that time as somewhat cliché, especially in light of the thrilling merger of poetry and hip hop then underway. “I was eager to find a way to make sure that my work was not easily connected to some passé idea,” Williams says. “I never really wanted to dive too deeply into jazz because it seemed to fit an existing idea.”
Two decades later, Williams could count a wealth of experiences stemming from his widely acclaimed work: a half-dozen books, appearances in films including Slam (1998), the lead role in the Tupac Shakur-based Broadway musical Holler If Ya Hear Me, and several albums fusing his poetry with hip hop, rock and electronic music. So with an established reputation, years of distance, and a deep respect for Murray’s work, he undertook his first substantial jazz collaboration – and was surprised by what he found.
“As a poet who’s very often tied to the page, collaborating with David has freed me up,” he says. “What’s beautiful about jazz is that it’s a celebration of improvisation. It has so much to do with listening, how you hear and what you hear, and how you respond to that. It keeps me fresh, so it’s the opposite of what I was afraid of when I was dodging performing with jazz musicians. It has invigorated the creative process.”
For Murray, the collaboration with Williams took on a similar form to his work with Baraka and other poets, whether living writers like Ishmael Reed or his adaptations of work by long-dead authors like Alexander Pushkin. “I let a poem just sit on my piano for a week, and the next thing I know it turns into a song,” Murray explains. “The words are like water; they find their own way.”
The band also takes a few pieces without Williams’ words. The title track pays homage to Memo with a blend of blues and classical Turkish music with the addition of Aytac Dogan on the kanun, a zither-like stringed instrument from the Middle East. Murray’s “Positive Messages” offers an uplifting yet forceful message, with a laid-back groove fueled by Moran on Rhodes; Sun Ra’s “Enlightenment” tips its hat to the Uluğ brothers’ love of the cosmic bandleader and the influence of his teachings on Murray’s formative years.
At a challenging time, Williams’ interpretation is understandably confrontational and incisive. Commissioned by Simon & Schuster upon Williams’ return from a four-year sojourn in Paris, US(a.) was intended to be a celebration of being an African-American living in Obama’s America, but the string of police shootings that led to the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of Donald Trump led to a much darker tone.
A piece like “Red Summer” is directly inspired by the 2015 mass shooting in a Charleston church. “Citizens (The River Runs Red)” takes an excerpt from “Said the Shotgun to the Head,” urging a shift from a patriarchal society to a female perspective. “Cycles and Seasons” draws from Williams’ poem “Coltan as Cotton,” which parallels the mining of coltan – a precious mineral found in smartphones and other technology – with more traditional forms of mining.
Reflecting on Blues For Memo and their work together, Murray says, “Saul is a very forward-thinking visionary. I’ve always tried to be very accommodating to poets and their vision of what the world is. I’ve tried to make it a clearer and truer vision through music.”
2018 TOUR DATES
January 30 – February 2 New York (NY) Birdland
February 6 Paris (FR) Sons d’Hiver
February 7 Saint Jean de Védas (FR) Victoire 2
February 8 Zurich (CH) Moods
February 9 Salzburg(AT) Jazzit
February 10 Vienna (AT) Porgy & Bess
February 11 Antwerp (BE) Arenberg Theatre
February 13 Stockholm (SE) Fasching
February 14 Oslo (NO) Victoria
February 15 Helsinki (FI) Selo Hall
February 16 Bergen (NO) Sardinen
February 17 Goteborg (SE) Nefertiti
David Murray featuring Saul Williams· Blues For Memo
Label: Motéma Music · Digital Release Date: February 2, 2018
Featuring: Chris Turner, Bilal, Taylor McFerrin, Marcus Gilmore, Louis Cato, Randy Runyon,
Justin Tyson, J. Ivy, Reuben Cainer, Bae Bro,
Stu Brooks, Javier Starks, Celia Hatton
Torn between the ferocity of the equine and the civility of man, Chiron was considered to be the noblest of the centaurs. His front legs were not of a horse but of a man. He trotted about mythological worlds as a refined anomaly, forged with the best traits of both beasts. For keyboardist and songwriter BIGYUKI we are all on the verge of that transformation with our digital devices amplifying and polishing our intellects. His debut album Reaching For Chiron is a perfect synthesis of heart and technology, heavy beats and buoyant melodies.
“We don’t memorize phone numbers anymore. We don’t memorize maps. It’s like a part of the brain now,” says BIGYUKI. “There is an ongoing discussion about AI creating a god or summoning a devil. I kind of feel like in the near future there is no way a human will develop themselves without help from AI. It’s a unity between human and machine.”
BIGYUKI is naturally the perfect embodiment of that modern man. Raised in Japan, he moved to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music. Up until that point, a majority of his keyboard experience had been with the classical masters. “Playing classical music I learned how to depart from this realm. Me becomes not me. That’s when I learned that. I love Chopin. I could really relate as my young self. He has beautiful melodies. I loved it. I think that part is still in me. Whatever music I play, it’s always there.”
Not long after arriving in Massachusetts, BIGYUKI began to see the changes, expanding and acquiring the knowledge that would create his powerhouse sound. An encounter with the much sought-after drummer Charles Haynes at Wally’s Cafe landed BIGYUKI a church gig in the Boston suburb of Dorchester, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the state. “People seemed to like my enthusiasm, attitude and maybe my playing. I didn’t know any songs but I have an ear that doesn’t suck. I can figure it out.” And he did. He played that gig for six years, lasting far longer at the church than at the college. “That really kind of gave me a sense that maybe where you are from and what your background is doesn’t really matter.”
A move to New York helped to solidify BIGYUKI’s transformation. He worked regularly with hip-hop artists like Talib Kweli and Matisyahu and made numerous contributions to the long-awaited return from A Tribe Called Quest. All of these elements — Chopin, jazz, gospel, hip-hop — reside between the keys on BIGYUKI’s debut, trampling anyone who stands in the way.
The album opens by tuning into an intergalactic transmission with the ethereal “Pom Pom,” a malleable swim through space dust that is engulfed in a storm of synths, Randy Runyon’s panic attack-inducing guitar and drummer Justin Tyson’s driving hi-hat. Despite its intensity, “‘Pom Pom was one of the simpler ones,” BIGYUKI explains.
He gets an assist from Taylor McFerrin on two tracks. “Eclipse” features vocalist Chris Turner in a swoony mood, crooning poet J. Ivy’s impassioned lyrics over drummer Louis Cato’s thundering presence. Drummer Marcus Gilmore sprinkles the funk on “Missing Ones,” a chill-out crawl that blinks breathlessly from the atmosphere.
“Coming up with the bass lines and the changes was the easy part. Harmonies and melodies are very simple but then coming up with a form? Figuring out how to make the four-minute piece interesting enough so that you don’t stop in the middle of it? That’s the hard part.” “Belong” and “In A Spiral” both showcase BIGYUKI’s more sensitive side.
“Belong” features some of BIGYUKI’s most delicate work on the album. Amid the clipped rhythms programmed by Reuben Cainer, BIGYUKI channels an inner calm that becomes even more stripped down on “In A Spiral,” a virtual cabaret performance amidst the unrelenting futurism found throughout the album.
“I wanted to come up with something that was straight fire. That was the idea. Let’s make something that hits people hard.” There isn’t any mystery to “Burnt N Turnt.” BIGYUKI is aiming straight for the club floor with help from producer Bae Bro. The two mix samples and synthesizers for a menacing spin. “Boom,” the duo’s second collaboration further along the record, is equally indebted to the heavy jam, vocal samples twisted into place by dense drum programming.
“It was after one of those taping sessions for Stephen Colbert’s late show. I was part of the house band for two months. I started jamming over my piano figure with Louis Cato and I recorded it on my phone.” That sample made its way into the final recording of “NuNu.” Drummer Lenny “The Ox” Reece lays down a skittering track that melds seamlessly with a distant vocal sample manipulation. There is a latin-ish vibe simmering beneath the surface throughout. “Reuben Cainer sprinkled a little bit of his flavor to it and the rest is blood and tears.”
BIGYUKI first worked with Bilal years ago. The soul singer is the main guest on “Soft Places” making the tune decidedly his own. “You know that it’s Bilal as soon as you hear his tone. He gives musicians such a freedom to stretch. He makes the music his playground.” With help from co-producer and sound designer Stu Brooks, BIGYUKI presents a post-apocalyptic love song that veers through time to create a soundscape that ears can easily tumble into.
“Simple Like You” puts hip-hop in the center of BIGYUKI’s universe. Javier Starks brings a swagger to the album that is refreshing and unexpected. A staccato riff keeps everyone on their toes while Celia Hatton’s top melody on viola packs a hard-left turn with a symphonic break.
The album closes with “2060 Chiron,” another floating collaboration with Cainer. An industrial pulse surrounds the futuristic song that is also incredibly indebted to the science fiction soundtracks of the 1980s. And as quickly as it arrives it goes, taking with it the future of BIGYUKI, the shape-shifting keyboardist, part man, part beast, all soul.
BIGYUKI · Reaching for Chiron
Likely Records · Release Date: February 2, 2018
For more information on BIGYUKI, please visit: bigyuki.com
and a strong but pliable tone…” – The New York Times
“He’s got an almost New Orleans-style flair that keeps the blues front and
center at all times, and focuses on melody rather than
explosions of virtuoso technique” – Stereogum
“Electrifyingly new and strangely familiar at the same time.
With his mix of modern sounds and old-fashioned feeling, Raymond
is steering jazz in the right direction.” – DownBeat
In the unfettered world of the jazz musician, having a long-time working group with a unique identity and sound is a rare thing. But for over four years now, Minnesota-born trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer John Raymond has done just that. His bass-less trioReal Feels, which includes guitarist Gilad Hekselman and drummer Colin Stranahan, evokes a sense of home, companionship and comfort that his Midwest roots might suggest. However, bringing together three musicians from three distinct musical backgrounds make the group a model of what defines American music — a melting pot of influences tied together by a close bond of warm-hearted kinship. Their newest album Joy Ride accomplishes this in its fullest sense.
The majority of the music on Joy Ride was written during a self-imposed, month-long retreat in which Raymond spent hours composing each day. Among the priorities for the music was Raymond’s desire to connect to his listeners, so rather than compose “heady” or complex songs, he focused on simplifying and writing music that people could sing along with. When the group was ready to record the new music, Raymond brought in Matt Pierson as producer to help streamline the recording process and help craft a stronger musical presentation.
The recording begins with the title track, “Joy Ride,” a jaunty original that keeps both the band and the listener on the edge of their seats for the entire tune. The group’s interpretation of Paul Simon’s “I’d Do It For Your Love” provides a perfect setting for Raymond’s flugelhorn on the sing-song melody and intriguing harmonic underpinning. Raymond’s “Follower” evokes a Radiohead-esque vibe, with a steady groove and winding, mysterious melody. Justin Vernon’s music is a huge influence on Raymond, as he was in Eau Claire when Bon Iver was just in its nascent form. Taking hints from a live Bon Iver performance in Brooklyn, the trumpeter rearranged “Minnesota, WI” into an incredibly poignant and resonant piece which features Hekselman stretching over his own guitar loops. The group’s take on the hymn “Be Still, My Soul” starts out calm but gradually becomes more edgy and dissonant, ending with a collectively improvised release of acoustic and electronic sounds.
The bare, yet moving original “Fortress” further reinforces Raymond’s indie-rock influences. Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill” is a perfect pop song set up with a repetitive guitar riff that the group modulates both harmonically and metrically throughout. Raymond’s soulful “En Route” is a lighthearted piece that breezily traverses the musical back roads. A tribute to a Minnesota legend, Raymond’s pastoral take on Bob Dylan’s iconic “The Times They Are A-Changin'” (to this day, still a powerful political statement) subtly shifts and bends, yet retains, the essential sentiment of the song. The recording concludes with “Hymn,” a duo performance with Hekselman leaving the listener with yet another simple and sincere melody resonating in their ears.
“From the very beginning this band has had a special connection, not only to each other but also to listeners — both jazz and non-jazz inclined,” Raymond states. “The process of recording this album gave way to an even more tangible realization of this connection, and upon completion we all remarked to each other how unique this music was going to be.” The urge to create a band with a deep chemistry was of high importance to John Raymond. The desire to play music that develops a unique and memorable connection to the listener was also a priority. Both of these are on full display in Joy Ride, a distinctive and highly listenable new recording that will further establish Raymond and the group as an important voice in jazz today.
About John Raymond & Real Feels
Originally from Minneapolis, MN, John Raymond grew to appreciate musicians who wanted not only a connection with their audience but also with their associates on the bandstand and, taking this to heart, the trumpeter applied the sentiment when he created his own band, Real Feels.
Raymond moved to New York City after spending some time time studying music in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He was able to establish himself in the New York scene playing alongside well-known musicians like Billy Hart, Orrin Evans, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Dan Tepfer and Linda May Han Oh among others. He also began to establish himself as a bandleader by releasing four albums since 2012, all of which receiving critical acclaim including nods from the Stereogum, New York Times, and Downbeat Magazine who named him a Rising Star Trumpeter in 2016.
Raymond formed Real Feels in 2014 by piecing together a trio comprised of flugelhorn, guitar and drums. Influenced by albums done by Art Farmer and Jim Hall, as well as the collaborations of Ron Miles, Bill Frisell and Brian Blade, Raymond called guitarist Gilad Hekselman who was a frequent contributor in Raymond’s past projects. Raymond’s decision to play as a trio without a bassist allowed Hekselman free reign to interpret the harmony of the compositions any way he chose. Providing the glue between Hekselman’s harmony and Raymond’s melody would be drummer Colin Stranahan, a formidable but elastic timekeeper who had an instant connection with Raymond and Hekselman. Together, the group would go on to release two albums in 2016, the self-titled Real Feels and a live follow up Real Feels: Live, Vol. 1.
John Raymond & Real Feels Upcoming 2018 Tour Dates:
January 17 – 18 / Indiana University Residency / Bloomington, IN
January 19 / Rudy’s Jazz Room / Nashville, TN
January 20 / The Velvet Note / Atlanta, GA
January 21 / White Horse Black Mountain / Asheville, NC
February 7 / Jazz Standard / New York, NY
February 10 / The Liberty / Cincinnati, OH
February 11 / Mabel Tainter Theater / Menomonie, MN
February 12 / The Icehouse / Minneapolis, MN
February 13 / Jazz Showcase / Chicago, IL
February 14 – 15 / Luther College Residency / Decorah, IA
February 16 / The Mill / Iowa City, IA
February 17 / Noce / Des Moines, IA
April 4 / Twins Jazz Club / Washington, D.C.
April 5 / The Bop Stop / Cleveland, OH
April 6 / Cliff Bells / Detroit, MI
April 7 / BLU Jazz / Akron, OH
May 10 / The Dark Room / St. Louis, MO
May 11 / Dazzle Jazz / Denver, CO
May 12 / The Nash / Phoenix, AZ
May 14 – 15 / Blue Whale / Los Angeles, CA
John Raymond & Real Feels · Joy Ride
Sunnyside Records · Release Date: February 9, 2018
Available December 15 Exclusively on Apple Music and iTunes
The National Jazz Museum in Harlem’s Savory Collection will release Vol. No. 4: Bobby Hackett and Friends exclusively on Apple Music and iTunes on December 15. The full multi-volume collection of historical archives will feature swing era jazz artists at the height of their artistry and previously unissued performances, all captured in superb sound quality by sound engineer/technical genius Bill Savory. Starting today, a sample track is available on Apple Music, and the album is available for pre-order on iTunes.
For 30 years, Loren Schoenberg, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem’s founding director and senior scholar, chased down these essential recordings. This edition further emphasizes the importance and excitement of this series, of which the eminent documentarian Ken Burns said: “It’s hard to think of many other historical discoveries that equal the incredible amount of new and vital information that comprises the Savory Collection.”
“In being an integral part of this project since its inception, Apple Music is helping to ensure this wonderful music is not simply limited to jazz collectors’ shelves but reaches a broader audience as well,” said Schoenberg, of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.
As the title emphasizes, the outstanding cornetist Bobby Hackett is prominently featured — on three tracks with his own ensembles and four as a participant led by the fine clarinetist Joe Marsala, with whose group Hackett made his initial impact on the New York scene in 1937. Admired by trumpet giants from Louis Armstrong to Miles Davis throughout his 40-year career, Hackett was already leading his own ensembles by the time of the recordings that open this album after gaining notoriety through his performance with Benny Goodman in his legendary 1938 Carnegie Hall concert.
Here he joins baritone saxophonist Ernie Caceres and pianist Joe Bushkin, with Carmen Mastren, Sam Shoobe and George Wettling on guitar, bass and drums respectively, all under Marsala’s keen leadership for a quartet of rollicking extended pieces filled with dynamic ensemble work and inspired solos. These late 1937 recordings contain the popular standards “California, Here I Come” and “The Sheik of Araby,” as well as blues classics “Jazz Me Blues” and “When Did You Leave Heaven” (also covered by heavyweights like Big Bill Broonzy and Bob Dylan).
A Hackett ensemble’s participation on a 1938 Paul Whiteman radio broadcast bring us the beautiful Gershwin ballad “Embraceable You” and a stomping take on Kid Ory’s “Muskrat Ramble,” with Hackett joined by the brilliant Pee Wee Russell on clarinet, arranger/valve trombonist Brad Gowans, the piano/bass/drums team of Dave Bowman, Clyde Newcombe and Andy Picard, and legendary guitarist Eddie Condon — whose equally legendary “Condon’s Mob” included Hackett as an integral member. Two years later Hackett got together with an NBC house band to add his own brief but memorable contribution to the “Body and Soul” legacy (to be extended seven years later with his beautiful solo on Frank Sinatra’s unforgettable version).
Listeners will also discover three extremely rare recordings by the immortal pianist Teddy Wilson’s 13-piece orchestra, virtually unrecorded in live performances. Recently discovered and to this point the only excellent high audio quality (superb, at that) recordings of this group, these 1939 items feature such masters as tenorman Ben Webster, trumpeters Doc Cheatham and Shorty Baker, altoist/clarinetist Rudy Powell and the sparkling rhythm section of Al Casey, Al Hall and J.C. Heard on guitar, bass and drums. With Wilson’s majestic virtuosity front and center, the band was structured for smooth transitions and elegant voicings, employing the rare — for its time — two trumpet/two trombone brass section creating a uniquely singing dynamic that was as graceful as its leader’s singular artistry and presence.
Powell wrote and arranged the lyrical and intricate “Cocoanut Groove,” while Wilson arranged the delightful “Sweet Lorraine” and the romping “Jitterbug Jump;” the former marked by a lovely saxophone quartet and warm ensemble, with beautiful solos by Wilson and Webster; and the tenorman stretching out with an appropriately explosive offering on the latter.
Martin Block, famed for hosting terrific jam sessions (including the aforementioned Joe Marsala excursions) also hosted the two loosely structured, but highly energetic 1939 jams here, led by the spectacular trombone titan Jack Teagarden. Joined by Charlie Shavers on trumpet, Kenneth Hollon on tenor, pianist Bill Miller, guitarist Teddy Bunn, Johnny Williams on bass and the drummer and wildman scat-singer Leo Watson, they tear into two pieces perfect for jamming – Andy Razaf and Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose” and the Harry Warren/Johnny Mercer’s then-current hit “Jeepers Creepers.” As an added highlight on the latter, Johnny Mercer makes an unusual appearance alongside Teagarden and Watson for a highly spirited vocal trio.
This delightful album closes with three pieces (taken from two separate radio broadcasts) by one of the most popular of the Swing-era big bands, the Glenn Miller Orchestra — all featuring the leader’s right-hand man (and eventual successor after Miller’s tragic wartime death) Tex Beneke on tenor sax and vocals. From 1938, Miller’s arrangement of “By the Waters of the Minnetonka” follows in the tom-tom driven spirit of Benny Goodman’s fabulous Carnegie Hall version of “Sing Sing Sing.” The 1940 broadcast gives us two of Miller’s most iconic pieces, “Tuxedo Junction” and “In the Mood.” Although less jazz-oriented than the band would become after Hackett joined shortly after this broadcast, the exuberant sense of swing and joy that made the Miller orchestra so wildly popular is fully apparent throughout.
Of this latest essential release, co-produced by Loren Schoenberg and Ken Druker, with the superb original recordings raised to perfection through the restoration and mastering wizardry of Doug Pomeroy, Schoenberg says: “To be able to share never-before-heard music created by great American artists such as Teddy Wilson and Bobby Hackett is such a thrill — just like an old wine, they improve with age! So much of the music of the Era was played in the musical equivalent of capital letters; these performances are such a joy to hear from bands that played with the lower-case letters too; so relaxed and flowing.”
On December 19, Mosaic Records will release a deluxe, limited-edition six-disc boxed set of the Savory Collection available only through mosaicrecords.com.
The Savory Collection Volume 4: Bobby Hackett and Friends The National Jazz Museum in Harlem· Release Date: December 15, 2017
For more information on the Savory Collection, please visit:SavoryJazz.org