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Ralph Lalama: Steppin' Out, Steppin' Forward

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Ralph Lalama's rich tenor saxophone voice has been heard for years on the New York City scene, perhaps most notably with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and its predecessors, first led by Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, and later by just Lewis. He's a guy who grew up when rock music was fully bursting on the American scene, but maintains that not much of that music touched him. He came from a family that listened to jazz and the American Popular Song canon, and he chose that direction.

“The feeling of it," is the turn-on of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ralph Lalama Quartet: The Audience

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Covers can become trite very quickly, but when arrangements are fresh and performance is equal to the task, they can become as endearing as new masterpieces. The Audience, by Ralpha Lalama Quartet, has that quality with its mix of lesser-known jazz songs, a little pop and some original interludes. Lalama, a tenor saxophonist, has been a fixture on the New York jazz scene for 30 years, many of them spent with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. He was also a member of Joe Lovano's Grammy-winning Nonet. Joining Lalama are bassist Rick Petrone, guitarist John Hart and drummer Joe Corsello. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ralph Lalama Quartet: The Audience

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Dexter Gordon achieved a post-bebop tenor saxophone sound that was Somewhere between the sleepy, vibrato-less tone of Lester Young and the falling-off- the-edge wail of John Coltrane. Yonkers native Ralph Lalama comes It is out of this tradition. On his fifth recording as a leader and his first release since 2008's successful Energy Fields (Mighty Quinn), Lalama elbows his way to the center with his virile, muscular tenor tone.

Lalama has been an important sideman in several seminal bands, including a membership in Woody Herman's 1976 Thundering Herd, a 25-year stint with the [{Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra}} and Joe Lovano's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ralph Lalama: The Audience

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A few choice items from the American Popular Songbook, tunes by Wayne Shorter, Duke Pearson, and Stevie Wonder, plus three brief duo improvisations, all rendered in a recognizable mainstream style by a band that includes two primary soloists and a bass and drums team. On the face of it, Ralph Lalama's second Mighty Quinn release appears rather modest relative to the ever expanding, unceasing advance of jazz and improvised music in the 21st Century. Nevertheless, throughout the ten tracks of The Audience the group delivers something as substantial as their forward leaning colleagues. Lalama and his cohorts, who occasionally play ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ralph Lalama: The Audience

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Tenor saxophonist Ralph Lalama is a respected jazz journeyman probably best known for his more than 25-year tenure with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. He's also played and recorded with the Joe Lovano Nonet, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and drummer Joe Morello's group, among others. But he's had relatively few opportunities to record as a leader. His 2008 release, the well-received Energy Fields (Mighty Quinn), was his first in over a decade and his first ever for a US label. So it's nice to see him back so soon with a worthy follow-up. Lalama is a powerhouse ...

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Ralph Lalama at The Turning Point Cafe

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Ralph Lalama The Turning Point Café Piermont, NY May 18, 2009

On Mondays, tenor saxophonist Ralph Lalama plays in the reed section and is one of the featured soloists of the venerable Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. He recently took a night off to lead a quartet at The Turning Point Café, a small, comfortable venue about 25 miles north of Manhattan. The gig generated some advance buzz because Lalama was slated to come in with the group which played on the splendid Energy Fields (Mighty Quinn), his first record as a leader in a decade.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ralph Lalama Quartet: Energy Fields

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Sometimes, small works better. That's evidenced by the plethora of jazz trio recordings released in 2008. One instrument can make a dramatic difference. That's where the Ralph Lalama Quartet comes in. Energy Fields is like a trio with additional versatility. Tenor saxophonist Lalama is joined on this effort by guitarist John Hart, bassist Rick Petrone, and drummer Joe Corsello. All came of age during the period when John Coltrane and Miles Davis put their stamps on jazz. Collectively, their stage and recording associations include Benny Goodman, Marian McPartland, Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, and Buddy Rich, among others.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ralph Lalama Quartet: Energy Fields

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An exciting band with a firm melodic grasp, Ralph Lalama's quartet pours over musical themes with emphasis, as accents fall into place with angular motion and improvised forays push forcefully. The leader's suave tenor, John Hart's sultry guitar, Rick Petrone's driving acoustic bass and drummer Joe Corsello's rhythmic thunder combine gracefully to shape each tone poem with a lyrical message. With “Indian Summer," “Blackberry Winter," “Old Folks" and “Like Someone in Love," for example, Lalama and Hart apply vocal-like phrasing that settles in comfortably. Although it's interpreted at a quick tempo, “Just in Time" comes with a similar impression that ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Richie Vitale Quintet Featuring Ralph Lalama: Shake It!

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Shake It! is Richie Vitale's third album for the Swiss based TCB label. Saxophonist Ralph Lalama guests sharing the bill and playing time with Vitale throughout. But Lalama's dissonant, biting sax seems out of place on a CD which for the most part is devoted to the hushed side of jazz. In contrast Vitale's horns never loses their cool, even on those semi abstract cuts such as “Hara". This nine minute track features avant gardish Lalama's chattering, offset by the pleasant discursive piano of Tardo Hammer. You can clearly hear that the lineage comes from the small bop groups of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ralph Lalama: Music For Grown-Ups

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For Ralph Lalama, living the jazz life means making ends meet by being involved with music on many disparate levels and in many various ways. The 48-year-old tenor man has been on the New York scene for several decades now, working as an educator, session musician, and leader of his own groups. Recent stints have also included a regular gig with the Village Vanguard and Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestras. Every so often though, he also manages to put together a pleasing record date for Criss Cross, with Music for Grown-Ups being his most recent and fifth for the label overall. ...



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