Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

114

Peter Welker: Duke, Billy and Tadd

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Trumpeter Peter Welker's labor of love, a warmhearted tribute to three of the jazz world's most renowned composer/pianists—Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn and Tadd Dameron—awakened memories of a similar enterprise from some years ago, the late Tom Talbert's 1956 record Bix, Duke, Fats. Like Talbert, Welker uses a pared-down "big band whose numbers range from ten to twelve (with a quartet and digitized "string section on the last number), and like Talbert, his spare, upbeat arrangements lend the session an intimate small-group ambiance whose payoff is quite charming and appropriate.

Welker's ensemble is loaded with world-class players ("I called in all my markers on this one, he says), including his mentor during student days at the Berklee College of Music, trumpeter Herb Pomeroy, and the superlative trombonist Bill Watrous. Pomeroy solos on three numbers, Watrous on five. The program consists of four compositions by Ellington (including the brief opener, "Heaven, performed by a brass/reeds sextet sans rhythm section), four by Strayhorn, and three by Dameron. Most of them would no doubt be familiar to all but the most unseasoned jazz listener, and each one is a classic in its own right.

While one can't reprove the material or the performance, the sound is something else again. Like too many albums I've heard recently, large group or small, there is far too much brightness and reverb, placing the band in what amounts to an escape-proof echo chamber. This is true in varying degrees throughout, but most disquieting on "Things Ain't What They Used to Be, "Isfahan, "U.M.M.G. and "On a Misty Night. Welker emphasizes that this is a "live recording, an observation that is, unhappily, squarely on the mark. A shame, really, as Welker invested so much time and effort into steering the enterprise toward a successful outcome (he says he spent about 700 hours writing the charts).

That was time well spent, as the arrangements are admirable, as are the ensemble and soloists (besides Pomeroy and Watrous, they include saxophonists Mel Martin, Fred Lipsius, Ray Pizzi, Jim Rothermel and Scott Peterson; pianist Dave Mathews, bassist Mel Graves and drummer George Marsh). Welker solos only on the last track, Dameron's "Soultrane, with a rhythm section comprised of brothers Pete Levin (piano), Tony Levin (bass) and drummer Steve Smith. If it weren't for the sub-par sonics, Duke, Billy and Tadd would be easily recommended. It still warrants an endorsement for the first-rate musicianship, but with an asterisk for sound quality.


Track Listing: Heaven; Our Delight; Prelude to a Kiss; Things Ain

Personnel: Peter Welker: leader, arranger, trumpet, flugelhorn; Herb Pomeroy: trumpet (2,6,8); Michael Whitwell: trumpet, flugelhorn (1-10); Jim Rothermel (1,2,5-8,10), Fred Lipsius (3,4,9), Charlie McCarthy (3,9): alto sax; Mel Martin (1-4, 6,8,9), Scott Petersen (7): tenor sax; Ray Pizzi (5,7,10): tenor sax, flute; Doug Delaney (1-10): baritone sax; Bill Watrous (3,5,7,9,10), Ren

Title: Duke, Billy and Tadd | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Peachy Productions

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Journey to a New World CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Disappeared Behind the Sun CD/LP/Track Review Disappeared Behind the Sun
by John Sharpe
Published: January 21, 2018
Read 2018 Neujahrskonzert New Year’s Concert CD/LP/Track Review 2018 Neujahrskonzert New Year’s Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Lux CD/LP/Track Review Lux
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 20, 2018
Read Unleashed CD/LP/Track Review Unleashed
by John Sharpe
Published: January 20, 2018
Read "Daylight Ghosts" CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Rediscovered Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 4, 2017
Read "Asian Fields Variations" CD/LP/Track Review Asian Fields Variations
by John Kelman
Published: May 21, 2017
Read "Mata Hati" CD/LP/Track Review Mata Hati
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 10, 2017
Read "Sanctified" CD/LP/Track Review Sanctified
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 1, 2017
Read "Esse" CD/LP/Track Review Esse
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 5, 2017