George Schuller has moved from the basic quartet of his band The Schulldogs to fashion music for a conglomerate that moves from a quintet to a septet for this record. While the extra horns bring in a greater depth and extension, the addition of strings lends a serene presence. Together they add to the lure, and the call.
Schuller says that he had violinist Mark Feldman in mind for the three-part suite called "Tense." It is apparent why. Inspired by Free Jazz,Unit Structures and Ascension, the tune finds Feldman riding the registers of the violin assembling a musical visage that is sculptured in round tones and quick, sharp lines abetted by a touch of klezmer music. The horns change the structure as they move into more fractured territory, amid wail and yowl as Dave Ballou dissects the middle with the scalpel that is his trumpet. Then comes the cleave between Feldman and Howard Johnson on the bass clarinet, a close conversation that gives way for Feldman to twitter as the horns form a gentle curtain before drawing him into that mode.
Ed Schuller draws the blues on his bass when "Punta d'Blues" comes to play. The body is built gradually through the horns and a bit of swing. Schuller vocally urges his bass, the response coming in strong rhythmic structures, the momentum given the surge and daubs of colour by Tony Malaby on tenor and Ballou as they take turns and then collaborate on the ornate design. Punctuating the proceedings is Johnson's tuba.
What at first may appear disparate falls into place neatly, making this jigsaw a worthy experience.
Track Listing: Ripe; Punta d'Blues; Band Vote; Distant Cousin; Tip Jar; Comeuppance; Tense (Suite) - Pre-Tense, Tension, Past Tense; Band Vote (The Recount).
Personnel: Dave Ballou: trumpet, flugelhorn; Tony Malaby: tenor and soprano saxophones; Mark Feldman: violin (1, 2, 6, 7); Matt Dariau: clarinet, bass clarinet and tenor saxophone (1, 2-6, 8);Curtis Hasselbring: trombone and guitar (1, 5, 6); Howard Johnson: bass clarinet and tuba (2, 7); Ed Schuller: bass; George Schuller: drums, cymbals, bells, things you shake.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.