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Saltman/Knowles Quintet

The Saltman Knowles Quintet is a shining example of the tradition in jazz for long-term artist collaborations. This Washington DC group is known for serving up melodically alluring while rhythmically infectious music with a sincere and emotional collection of songs. Bassist Mark Saltman and pianist William Knowles, the leaders of this seamless blending of sounds, met while attending the composition program at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and created a musical bond with similar affections for the music of Billy Strayhorn, Horace Silver, Cedar Walton and Charles Mingus.

The new release, "Return of the Composer" exemplifies the cohesive unit created with a strong underlying foundation, interesting melodic lines, spirited rhythms and superlative musicianship. With four CDs under their belt the group decided to continue their journey into creative musical explorations by including the soulful sounds of vocalist Lori William- Chisholm in a more unconventional way. The use of the voice as an instrumental texture executing complex melodies while avoiding the cliché of standard vocal presentations is the icing on the cake of this delicious voyage of musical expression. The compelling clarity of Lori’s vocals add to the rich spirit of this CD that includes drummer Jimmy "Junebug" Jackson, alto sax player Rob Landham and trumpeter Alvin Trask who provide a lush array of musical brilliance to this solid mix.

According to Saltman Knowles "What makes this record different sound wise is the use of vocalese (using the voice as another instrument). We're lucky in the sense that we can have both an instrumental sound like a straight swinging quintet as well as a vocal sound. The music we write is melodic, harmonically dense, and swinging. Often our music is a sketch of personal situations in our lives or of those friends who are close to us. Music is our way of commenting about life."

Mark Saltman always wanted to join his stepbrother, Steve, every time he played the drums in their basement. Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut he grew up with a father who listened to jazz, which helped to influence Mark’s future passion for playing bass. "My Father, who "Return of the Composer" is partly for, used to have a big Jazz collection. He was into Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Brubeck and some West Coast like Shorty Rogers. I used to listen to his records and I kind of knew the song "Take 5" but I really started to dig it when I heard Al Jarreau's version of it." His next big influence was the great American jazz multi-instrumentalist, composer and educator, Dr. Yusef Lateef whom Mark met while attending the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Dr. Lateef helped Mark form his unique musical ideas and concepts by encouraging him to find his "own sound within". Eventually he did a recording with Dr. Lateef entitled "CHNOPS Gold +Soul". "I spent a lot of time with Dr. Yusef Lateef when I was up at the University of Massachusetts. I was supposed to have an hour lesson, but if the people after me didn't show up it would go on for a long time. I think the record was six hours straight. We used to talk about all kinds of things including music, religion, and politics. He is Muslim and I am Jewish, so we really went into the whole religious thing. It was totally respectful and incredibly enlightening. " While at Hartt school Mark had the opportunity to study with Jackie McClean for a year, along with a couple of other great musicians, Midge Pike and Salvatore Macchia on the bass and Richie Hartt whom Mark refers to as "a great guitar player". His desire to compose manifested at an early age from an intuitive reaction to a frustrating childhood but it helped him to fill the gap and ultimately became the focus of his life. These deep experiences opened Mark up to the intricate and haunting melodies of many unique jazz masters. "From a composition standpoint I really like Billy Strayhorn, Sting and Horace Silver. Strayhorn was a master at beautiful melodies and harmonic interest; I mean just listen to a song like "My Little Brown Book". Sting I love because he is a supposed pop artist but look at how sophisticated his music is not to mention brilliant lyrics. And Horace Silver really brought the music forward with different feels while still using great chord changes." Besides his dedication to the Saltman Knowles Quintet, Mark is an educator in the Washington DC schools and likes exploring the relationship between sound and color in the study of Synaesthesia.

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Album Review
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Primary Instrument


Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Return of the Composer

Pacific Coast Jazz


It's About the Melody

Blue Canoe Records


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