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If you think I'm going to say anything unkind or even negative about Albuquerque, New Mexico's Young Razzcals, you'd better check your head to make sure all the marbles are intact. Sure, they don't swing quite as hard or as consistently as Basie - yet - but there's a good reason for that; the average age of this extraordinary group of Jazz Festival veterans is 13, and that's not in dog years either.The Razzcals were born in 1992 when some young musicians (really young!) with a burning desire to play Jazz showed up at weekly jam sessions directed by trumpeter/pianist/educator Dave Adams. Instead of brushing them off, Adams let them jam and was pleasantly surprised by their enthusiasm and willingness to learn. It wasn't long before the kids brought their friends, and three years ago Adams took some of them to the Telluride Festival in Colorado. They were, to put it mildly, an enormous success, and have returned every year since. They've also performed with or opened for such well-known Jazz artists as Clark Terry, Herbie Mann, Butch Miles, Paquito D'Rivera, Albuquerque native Bobby Shew and many others. Four of the original "Telluride Razzcals" (trumpeter/vocalist Brynn Rector, saxophonists Paul Chavez, James Breslin and Stephen Lopez) perform on Jazz Project, Volume 2; others among the more than 40 who have passed through the program have gone on to make their mark in high school and college. Adams' unconventional teaching methods include having the kids hum tunes before playing them, and letting them choose new tunes to play. The approach seems to be working, as the Razzcals play with an awareness that belies their years. baritone saxophonist Breslin (age 15) is especially effective on "My Little Suede Shoes." The principal vocalists are the 12-year-old Rector, Hilary Good and guitarist Anna Kongs (each 13). Eighteen-year-old April Ball and trumpeter Laura Eaton (13) do the honors on "Corcovado." Thirteen-year-old bassist Matthew Brewer sparkles on "So What" with grown-ups Brian Trainor (piano) and Tim Ruger (drums). The youngsters receive help on Volume 2 from several of their "mentors" including Adams, Miles, trumpeters Bob Montgomery and Billy Morris, saxophonists Dick Trask and John Lewis, pianists Trainor and Michael Ning, bassist Dave Parlato and drummers Ruger, Michael Candido and Brian Lewis. A word about the finale, "Sugar Blues," a reversal of sorts as the EQ was removed and "record scratches" inserted by computer to create an authentic vintage recording. It works. And so do these young musicians, who, considering their ages, are simply outta sight. The future of Jazz? Let us hope so.
Track Listing: Afternoon in Paris; My Little Suede Shoes; A Tisket a Tasket; Route 66; Softly As in a Morning Sunrise; It Could Happen to You/Fried Bananas; The Underdog; A Night in Tunisia; Them There Eyes; Chicken Shack; Twisted; So What; Corcovado; Charlie Parker Medley; Sugar Blues (65:19).
Personnel: Dave Adams, director, piano, bass trumpet, bass; Brian Trainor, piano. The kids: Margareta Young, Laura Eaton, trumpet; *Brynn Rector, trumpet, drums; Hani Molles, trumpet, flugelhorn; Jesse Carmona, Sean French, Calvin Cobb, Starr Vavrek, Melissa Williams, alto sax; *Paul Chavez, alto, baritone, soprano sax; Aaron Lovato, soprano, tenor sax; *James Breslin, baritone sax, piano, drums; *Stephen Lopez, tenor sax; Eric Carlson, clarinet; Ed Boyd, trombone; Andrea Butler, Blake Thomson, Matthew Brewer, bass; Anna Kongs, Ryan Salmon, guitar; *Michael Alderson, Camilo Quinones, Josh McCoy, drums; Anna Kongs, Brynn Rector, Laura Eaton, April Ball, Hilary Good, Andrea Butler, Hani Molles, Margareta Young, vocals. (*Denotes original "Telluride Razzcals"). The mentors: Bob Montgomery, Billy Morris, trumpet; Dick Trask, John Lewis, saxophone; Tony Cesarano, guitar; Brian Trainor, Michael Ning, piano; David Parlato, bass; Tim Ruger, Butch Miles, Michael Candido, Brian Lewis, drums, percussion; Kelly Rodrigues, Vickie Mobley, vocals.