Blues are everywhere, and saxophonist Noah Howard knows it. So do his bandmates on this newest escapade for his own Alt Sax label. Yet, there's more. Howard employs an old blues lyric as the basis of his title track. Sung by Eve Packer, his frequent partner in song, the piece represents the crème de la crème of modern blues interpretations. Packer and Howard play hard-driving romps for half of the disc. Hence much of their music is rooted in energy and elan. His alto sax sings in its own inimitable manner and Packer's pipes weave flirtatiously inbetween.
To that end, "Gasoline Alley Crack-Up" comes across as the standout surefire tune. The flipside of the set welcomes the piano of Bobby Few and the drums of Bobby Kapp, both frequent running mates of Howard and also improvising luminaries in their own right. Sans any sort of bass, the trio works from resplendent chords and acheives some fervently enacted three-way dialogues and semi-structured hodgepodges. Therefore at times they drift apart, only to coalesce at various points. It's sort of like capturing or perhaps fabricating more voices or tonalities out of their instruments, where they transmit divergent contrasts via a mulitfarious approach and mostly avoid pre-conceived notions by bending the rules a bit. Utimately it's a journey of discovery and expansion.
Of course, the program is far from typical easy listening type fare. Essentially, the entire production demands the listeners' attention and imaginative powers. Shiny laurels and his own share of kudos are owed Howard for this endearing affair. (Feverishly and platitudinously recommended!)
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.