KC Potpourri (n)a goodly bunch of fine Kansas City musicians addressing themselves through a varied and satisfying program. Assembled by trumpeter and former Berklee educator Mike Metheny, these "jazz sounds from the heartland" prove that there's more to Kansas than steak and tornados. In this case, it's a pleasing mix of quartet, quintet, and big band tracks, originals and standards, with some sterling moments, many of them provided by Metheny himself.
A supremely lyrical player, Metheny manages to make his flugelhorn sound like something from in a dream, or gleaming softly through a fog. His very romantic aura is beautifully showcased here on "We'll Be Together Again," brother Pat's lovely "Always and Forever," guitarist Danny Embrey's pensive "Tell Me Now," and "How Insensitive," which Metheny de-clichés by saying more with less. On this, his seventh recording as a leader, he also plays muted cornet and EVI (electronic valve instrument), which has an eight-octave range, is MIDI-capable, and, as he helpfully points out, "can double as a bug sprayer."
Lest you think this is a ballad album, please note that there are some hard-swinging and bluesy tracks, like the crackling yabba-dabba of "The Flintstones Theme," Benny Golson's jaunty "Are You Real?" (where Embrey shines), the high-energy "Hey Man!," and the greasy version of John Lewis's "Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West," with notable solos by bandmates Bob Bowman and Paul Smith.
The Soundtrek Big Band is fine and tight; the CD itself is warmly recorded, very pleasurable, and further evidence of the genetic nature of musical talent.
Track Listing: The Flintstones Theme, Always and Forever, Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West, Tell Me Now, How Insensitive, Are you Real?, Darn That Dream, Hey Man!, We'll Be Together Again
Personnel: Mike Metheny (flugelhorn, cornet, EVI), Paul Smith (piano, keyboards, synthesizers), Roger Wilder (piano), Danny
Embrey, Rod Fleeman (guitar), Bob Bowman, Gerald Spaits (bass), Tommy Ruskin, Todd Strait (drums). With The
Soundtrek Big Band: Kim Park, Todd Wilkinson (alto sax, flute), Hal Melia (tenor sax, flute), Doug Talley (tenor
sax), Kerry Strayer (baritone sax), Steve Dekker, Jim Cann, Phil Thomas (trombone), Rich Coble (bass
trombone), Steve Molloy, Bob Harvey, Jay Sollenberger, Barry Springer (trumpet, flugelhorn), Joe Cartwright
(piano), Danny Embrey (guitar), Tim Brewer (bass), Tom Morgan (drums).
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.