The number of projects which Bob Masteller juggles to keep the flame of jazz alive is nothing short of astonishing, each displaying passion and dedication to the art and history of jazz. Masteller is owner of the Jazz Corner, a nationally recognized, award-winning jazz club located in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. He lives jazz in all areas of his life; he's a multi-instrumentalist, lecturer, writer on the history of jazz, and booking agent for national and international touring jazz artists.
Since 2000, Masteller has recorded three CDs, and he's presently working on two other projects, including the development of his own recording label at the Jazz Corner. The Jazz Corner Swings Latin sets eleven well-known swinging standards to a Latin pulse to create a romantic flow.
Masteller's vibraphone style is very reminiscent of Lionel Hampton and Cal Tjader. With clear and concise rhythmic and harmonic direction, Masteller's soloing focuses on melody and storytelling instead of technique and flash. He also knows the value of finding band members who work well together and complement each other in their playing style. "Satin Doll exemplifies this, with pianist Norm Gagne taking the energy from Masteller's solo and building upon it with flowing sixteenth-note lines and block chords.
"That's All is given a cha cha flavor with Mark Husbands providing a nice pad of conga rhythms for the band to interact with. Drummer Chris Russell and Husbands play as one unit on "Darn that Dream, keeping the sixteenth-note pulse driving without sounding rushed. This piece also features some of Masteller's best playing, with nice rhythmic and melodic development. The technique of quoting small phrases from various melodies during a solo reached its zenith in the bebop era, and Masteller continues the tradition by including multiple quotes in all of his solos. For example, "Darn that Dream features quotes from "London Bridges Falling and "I'll Remember April.
The musicians focus on a romantic theme while telling their story to a live audience in Masteller's club in March, 2005. The audience's encouragement fuels the performers' creativity throughout, without distracting the flow of the music. Overall this is an easy listen for the jazz fan who favors the swing era with a few new twists.
Personnel: Bob Masteller: vibes; Norm Gagne: piano; Clarence Williams: bass; Chris Russell: drums; Mark