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Growing out of a weekly jam session that drummer Joe Farnsworth used to lead at a New York club called Augie’s, the hard bop ensemble One For All now encompasses a pool of leaders who still manage to get together and cultivate the kind of musical empathy that they’ve developed over the years. After two initial albums for the Sharp Nine label, the group jumped ship to Criss Cross Jazz where the majority of the guys cut records of their own. Live at Smoke- Volume 1 is the third installment on Criss Cross and a live session documented at the club that used to be Augie’s, now known as Smoke.
Past highpoints are visited here in new versions that up the ante in terms of tempo and solo brilliance. “The Second Milestone” is Eric Alexander’s line and it starts things off in a way that delineates the creative muse for the remainder of the date- burning solos and collective interplay that borders on the telepathic at times. Naming just a few of the highlights, trumpeter Jim Rotondi toys with the beat during a souped up remake of “Betcha By Golly Wow,” Eric Alexander can be heard in impassioned voice on his ballad feature “Dedicated To You,” and Steve Davis contributes fitting homage to inspiration J.J. Johnson on a reverential “Poem For J.J.”
Track Listing: The Second Milestone, Betcha By Golly Wow, Poem For J.J., Too Soon to Tell, Dedicated to You, The Lonely Ones, We All Love Eddie Harris
Personnel: Eric Alexander (tenor saxophone), Jim Rotondi (trumpet), Steve Davis (trombone), David Hazeltine (piano), Peter Washington (bass), Joe Farnsworth (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!
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