How Long Has This Been Going On?, Pete Yellin's first album of the new millennium, is a strong sampling of his abilities as an altoist and as a songwriter. It also showcases his connections across the jazz spectrum, built up over a five-decade career. Bob Mintzer, Billy Hart, and Sheila Jordan all make appearances here. And Yellin's regular personnel are excellent, too: pianist Renee Rosnes plays a lovely solo on a mid-tempo original, "Air for Aaron," and Peter Leitch brings in strong guitar work on "Another Hairdo."
On standards, Yellin gives tasteful nods to the tradition while still adding his own subtle filigree. He sets the melody of "How Long Has This Been Going On?" in the framework of a repeated figure from the rhythm section, personalizing it to just the right degree. His "Lover Man" bends the form just slightly and allows for an open-ended introduction on the bridge section before playing the head as an up-tempo salsa beat. The only exception to this artistic taste and restraint is on "Everything Happens to Me," where the normally exceptional Sheila Jordan presents a spoken-word vocal that has little to do with the song and sullies what would otherwise be a compelling rubato version of the tune.
It means something very particular to have Charlie Parker as your role model. Every saxophonist who knows anything about jazz will of course claim him as an influence, because so much of modern jazz derives from Bird's innovations. But to truly look to Parker as a musical guidenot just as a sacrosanct hero, but as a personal modelis a true rarity. Perhaps Yellin's greatest strength as an improviser is that his love of Bird is always evident, but never blots out his own voice. On the great take of Monk's "Four in One," Yellin uses authentic Charlie Parker wails, but never sounds like a rip-off of the original. And "CP," his homage to the earlier alto player, is written in the harmonic language of post-bop, rather than a purely Birdlike idiom. Altogether, How Long Has This Been Going On? is a pleasant outing, and a reminder of a stalwart player.
Track Listing: Four in One; C.C.U; How Long Has This Been Going On?; Air for Aaron; Dearly Beloved; Another Hairdo; CP; Everything Happens to Me; Lover Man.
Personnel: Peter Yellin: alto and soprano sax; Bob Mintzer: tenor sax (1, 6, 7); Renee Rosnes: piano; Michael Wolfe: piano (5); Dwayne Burno: bass; Harvie S: bass (5); Peter Leitch: guitar (4, 6); Winard Harper: drums; Billy Hart: drums (5); Sheila Jordan: vocals (8).
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.