If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.
You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...
One sure sign of spring is the arrival of the latest yearly recording by the superb Howard University Jazz Ensemble, a tradition that dates without pause from the days of vinyl in 1976, one year after the ensemble was formed by its first and only music director, Fred Irby III. For archivists and numbers-crunchers, that's forty-four years and counting.
Unlike some of its precursors, HUJE 2018 is entirely instrumental; it does, however, include the usual measure of exemplary arrangements, from Ron Horton's garden-fresh treatment of Cole Porter's "I Concentrate on You" to Scott Silbert's groovy take on the folk evergreen "Frankie and Johnny." They are separated by a literal handful of jazz staples, the Gershwin brothers' "They Can't Take That Away from Me" and one luminous but lesser-known theme, "For the Love of Money." The jazz-linked entries are Herbie Hancock's "Driftin,'" John Coltrane's "Dear Lord," Thelonious Monk's "Blue Monk," Walter Davis Jr.'s "Sweet Cakes" and Russell Malone's "Sweet Georgia Peach."
When soloists are required to step forward and have their say, Irby turns most often to members of the rhythm section to perform that essential task. Electric guitarists Walter Beck and Theodross Alemu solo on three numbers each, bassist Eliot Seppa on three others, pianist Tristan Ledale Benton on "Sweet Cakes" and "Frankie and Johnny," drummer Aaron Freeman on "Love of Money." The only other soloists are tenor saxophonist Antonio Parker ("Blue Monk," "Sweet Cakes," "Sweet Georgia Peach") and soprano Na'Vaughn Martin ("I Concentrate on You"). Even so, every solo is well-drawn and never less than engaging, as is true of the impressive charts by Horton, Silbert, Joe Wright, Mike Crotty and Rob Lussier.
As noted, Irby and the Howard ensemble from Washington D.C. have been producing admirable recordings for more than four decades, and HUJE 2018 is clearly no exception to the rule. Unreservedly endorsed.
Track Listing: I Concentrate on You; Driftin’; Dear Lord; For the Love of Money; Blue Monk; Sweet Cakes; They Can’t Take That Away from Me; Sweet Georgia Peach; Frankie and Johnny.
Personnel: Fred Irby III: music director; Jonathon Neal: trumpet, flugelhorn; Aaron Broadus: trumpet, flugelhorn; Christian Adkins: trumpet, flugelhorn; Robert Perry: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jalissa Douglas: trumpet, flugelhorn; Na’Vaughn Martin: alto, soprano sax, flute; John Felder-Washington: alto sax; Antonio Parker: tenor sax; Sterlyn Termine: tenor sax; Dionne Ledbetter: baritone sax; David Onley: baritone sax; Christopher Steele: trombone; Paul Phifer: trombone; Curry Hackett: trombone; George Allen: bass trombone; Tristan Ledale Benton: piano, Fender Rhodes; William Richards: vibraphone; Theodros Alemu: electric guitar; Walter Beck: electric guitar; Eliot Seppa: acoustic, electric bass; Samuel Prather: drums, congas; Aaron Freeman: drums.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
We sent a confirmation message to . Look for it, then click the link to activate your account. If you don’t see the email in your inbox, check your spam, bulk or promotions folder.
Thanks for joining the All About Jazz community!