135

Peter Welker: Paradise Is Awfully Nice

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Trumpeter / arranger Peter Welker has dedicated this album to his mother, Elisabeth, a remarkable woman who, in spite of having been born blind, became a band singer who performed on the coast–to–coast radio program Camel Caravan in the ’30s, later taught at the Berklee School of Music and developed a Braille course that changed completely the way Jazz was taught to blind musicians, making it more focused and accessible. All of the musicians on Paradise Is Awfully Nice are personal friends of the younger Welker, and most of them were acquainted with his mother including trumpeter Herb Pomeroy, Peter Welker’s teacher at Berklee in the ’50s. Most selections feature an eleven–piece group with Welker (piano) dueting with Norton Buffalo (harmonica) on Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday” and pairing with flugel Michael Whitwell, French hornist Gus Klein, trombonist René Jenkins and bass trombonist Floyd Reinhart on the brief (55–second) title track, whose words were the last spoken by Elisabeth Welker before her passing on January 21, 1999, at age eighty–five. Pomeroy solos on five numbers, ace saxophonist Ernie Watts on three. Other prominent phrase–makers include mandolin virtuoso David Grisman (“Chelsea Bridge”), guitarist Randy Vincent, pianist Smith Dobson, alto saxophonist / clarinetist Jim Rothermel and tenor saxophonist Barry Ulman. The veteran Pomeroy is superb whether playing open (“Just Friends,” “Nica’s Dream,” “Born to Be Blue”), muted (“A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing”) or using a plunger (“Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You”) while Watts quickly takes charge on his three appearances (“Sweet George,” “Detour Ahead,” “In Your Own Sweet Way”). Welker solos on “Flower” and “Sweet Way,” both open. The CD, says Welker, was recorded “live in the studio” with everyone playing at the same time, giving it “a passion and immediacy often missing on multi–track, overdubbed recordings.” Even so, there’s a rather conspicuous edit at the 5:02 mark preceding Rothermel’s clarinet solo on “Just Friends.” Aside from that, everything seems ship–shape and spontaneous. This may not be, in the strictest sense of the phrase, a “big–band album” (two or three trumpets, three or four saxophones, trombone and rhythm), but thanks to Welker’s well–crafted charts and earnest blowing by his teammates, it’s close enough. And from whatever corner of paradise she may be listening, Elisabeth Welker must be glowing with pride.

Contact: www.peterwelker.com

Track Listing: Paradise Is Awfully Nice; Sweet George; Chelsea Bridge; Just Friends; A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing; Gee Baby, Ain

Personnel: Collective

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: 33rd Street | Style: Big Band


Shop

More Articles

Read Malnoia CD/LP/Track Review Malnoia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Get 'Em CD/LP/Track Review Get 'Em
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Radioactive Landscapes EP CD/LP/Track Review Radioactive Landscapes EP
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Wake Up Call CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 24, 2017
Read The Many Minds of Richie Cole CD/LP/Track Review The Many Minds of Richie Cole
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: April 24, 2017
Read LifeCycle CD/LP/Track Review LifeCycle
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Rejoice! I'm Dead!" CD/LP/Track Review Rejoice! I'm Dead!
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "The Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review The Unknown
by Budd Kopman
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "Momentum" CD/LP/Track Review Momentum
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 18, 2016
Read "Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder" CD/LP/Track Review Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 15, 2016
Read "Moons" CD/LP/Track Review Moons
by Dave Wayne
Published: July 27, 2016
Read "Rubicon" CD/LP/Track Review Rubicon
by John Kelman
Published: July 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!