If you think I'm going to say anything unkind or even negative about Albuquerque, New Mexico's Young Razzcals, you'd better check your head to make sure all the marbles are intact. Sure, they don't swing quite as hard or as consistently as Basie - yet - but there's a good reason for that; the average age of this extraordinary group of Jazz Festival veterans is 13, and that's not in dog years either.The Razzcals were born in 1992 when some young musicians (really young!) with a burning desire to play Jazz showed up at weekly jam sessions directed by trumpeter/pianist/educator Dave Adams. Instead of brushing them off, Adams let them jam and was pleasantly surprised by their enthusiasm and willingness to learn. It wasn't long before the kids brought their friends, and three years ago Adams took some of them to the Telluride Festival in Colorado. They were, to put it mildly, an enormous success, and have returned every year since. They've also performed with or opened for such well-known Jazz artists as Clark Terry, Herbie Mann, Butch Miles, Paquito D'Rivera, Albuquerque native Bobby Shew and many others. Four of the original "Telluride Razzcals" (trumpeter/vocalist Brynn Rector, saxophonists Paul Chavez, James Breslin and Stephen Lopez) perform on Jazz Project, Volume 2; others among the more than 40 who have passed through the program have gone on to make their mark in high school and college. Adams' unconventional teaching methods include having the kids hum tunes before playing them, and letting them choose new tunes to play. The approach seems to be working, as the Razzcals play with an awareness that belies their years. baritone saxophonist Breslin (age 15) is especially effective on "My Little Suede Shoes." The principal vocalists are the 12-year-old Rector, Hilary Good and guitarist Anna Kongs (each 13). Eighteen-year-old April Ball and trumpeter Laura Eaton (13) do the honors on "Corcovado." Thirteen-year-old bassist Matthew Brewer sparkles on "So What" with grown-ups Brian Trainor (piano) and Tim Ruger (drums). The youngsters receive help on Volume 2 from several of their "mentors" including Adams, Miles, trumpeters Bob Montgomery and Billy Morris, saxophonists Dick Trask and John Lewis, pianists Trainor and Michael Ning, bassist Dave Parlato and drummers Ruger, Michael Candido and Brian Lewis. A word about the finale, "Sugar Blues," a reversal of sorts as the EQ was removed and "record scratches" inserted by computer to create an authentic vintage recording. It works. And so do these young musicians, who, considering their ages, are simply outta sight. The future of Jazz? Let us hope so.
Track Listing: Afternoon in Paris; My Little Suede Shoes; A Tisket a Tasket; Route 66; Softly As in a Morning Sunrise; It Could Happen to You/Fried Bananas; The Underdog; A Night in Tunisia; Them There Eyes; Chicken Shack; Twisted; So What; Corcovado; Charlie Parker Medley; Sugar Blues (65:19).
Personnel: Dave Adams, director, piano, bass trumpet, bass; Brian Trainor, piano. The kids: Margareta Young, Laura Eaton, trumpet; *Brynn Rector, trumpet, drums; Hani Molles, trumpet, flugelhorn; Jesse Carmona, Sean French, Calvin Cobb, Starr Vavrek, Melissa Williams, alto sax; *Paul Chavez, alto, baritone, soprano sax; Aaron Lovato, soprano, tenor sax; *James Breslin, baritone sax, piano, drums; *Stephen Lopez, tenor sax; Eric Carlson, clarinet; Ed Boyd, trombone; Andrea Butler, Blake Thomson, Matthew Brewer, bass; Anna Kongs, Ryan Salmon, guitar; *Michael Alderson, Camilo Quinones, Josh McCoy, drums; Anna Kongs, Brynn Rector, Laura Eaton, April Ball, Hilary Good, Andrea Butler, Hani Molles, Margareta Young, vocals. (*Denotes original "Telluride Razzcals"). The mentors: Bob Montgomery, Billy Morris, trumpet; Dick Trask, John Lewis, saxophone; Tony Cesarano, guitar; Brian Trainor, Michael Ning, piano; David Parlato, bass; Tim Ruger, Butch Miles, Michael Candido, Brian Lewis, drums, percussion; Kelly Rodrigues, Vickie Mobley, vocals.
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.