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Mark Masters: Our Metier

Read "Our Metier" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

There are a lot of fine composers writing for large jazz ensembles today, so many that some names can get lost in the shuffle. Mark Masters is a case in point. You don'r hear about him often, possibly because many of his recordings feature his ensembles playing the music of other composers like trombonist Grachan Moncur III, baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan and tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman. However the music on Our Metier all comes from Masters' own pen and it ...

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Mark Masters Ensemble: Our Metier

Read "Our Metier" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Mark Masters, an extraordinarily talented and perhaps undersung arranger of large ensembles jazz, has spent a good deal of artistic energy on crafting recordings that explore other people's compositions. His Capri Records output includes The Clifford Brown Project (2003), celebrating the sounds of the too-soon-gone trumpet legend; Porgy and Bess (2005), from the George Gershwin songbook; One Day With Lee (2004), a celebration of alto saxophonist Lee Konitz; Farewell Walter Dewey Redman (2008), a nod to another great sax man; ...

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The Mark Masters Ensemble: Blue Skylight

Read "Blue Skylight" reviewed by Jack Bowers

California-based composer / arranger Mark Masters, who has already recorded salutes to Clifford Brown, Jimmy Knepper, Dewey Redman, Steely Dan, the Gershwin brothers and even the Duke Ellington saxophone section, directs his attention and considerable talents this time around to the music of a pair of legendary jazz trend-setters who were in many respects polar opposites: bassist Charles Mingus and saxophonist Gerry Mulligan. To amplify his purpose, Masters made two pivotal decisions, each of which serves to ...

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The Mark Masters Ensemble: Blue Skylight

Read "Blue Skylight" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Mark Masters has made his name in the banderleader/arranger arena fronting The Mark Master Ensemble, in various forms, with personal tributes to past masters: saxophonist Dewey Redman, Duke Ellington, trumpeter Clifford Brown, and present master, alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, who played as the featured artist on One Day With Lee (Capri Records (2000). These are all top notch recordings, affording Masters the opportunity to craft his own beguiling interpretations of the artistries of recognized giants of jazz. With ...

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The Mark Masters Ensemble: Everything You Did: The Music of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen

Read "Everything You Did: The Music of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Another tribute album from leader / arranger Mark Masters whose splendid ensemble has previously paid homage to trumpeter Clifford Brown, saxophonist Lee Konitz, trombonist Jimmy Knepper and the Gershwin brothers (Porgy & Bess Redefined). This time around it's the music of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, better known by their collective name, Steely Dan. The album, says Masters, is “a quartet recording with an ensemble," and said foursome is comprised of trumpeter Tim Hagans, tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, bassist Hamilton ...

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Mark Masters: Everything You Did

Read "Everything You Did" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Rock band Steely Dan released Pretzel Logic (ABC) in 1974. The album was big, one its most successful. But with younger audiences unfamiliar with jazz, the disc surely must have caused some confusion, along the lines of: “What in the world is this 'East St. Louis Toodle-oo?' And what are they talking about with 'Parker's Band?'" The former tune, a three-minute instrumental, closed out side one and it was, of course, from the pen of composer/bandleader Duke Ellington. The latter, ...

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Mark Masters: Everything You Did

Read "Everything You Did" reviewed by Jeff Dayton-Johnson

Bandleader/arranger Mark Masters has recorded a set of Steely Dan tunes with a big band, which can be set on the shelf next to his celebrated albums dedicated to the music of George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Dewey Redman. A Dan jazz album makes sense. It's clear from the rock band's '70s albums that Donald Fagen and Walter Becker warmly loved jazz: the intro to their hit “Rikki Don't Lose That Number" is lifted directly from pianist Horace Silver's “Song ...

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Mark Masters Ensemble: Ellington Saxophone Encounters

Read "Mark Masters Ensemble: Ellington Saxophone Encounters" reviewed by Greg Simmons

It could be argued that the core of bandleader Duke Ellington's wonderful textural sound was the way he harmonized his reed section, with great woody chords and lush polyphonic melodies. That reed section, with the great Johnny Hodges leading on alto, stalwarts like Paul Gonsalves on tenor and Harry Carney on baritone, as well as shorter-term itinerants like the incomparable tenor player Ben Webster, was one of the most well-oiled machines in jazz history. It was glorious. So ...

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Mark Masters Ensemble: Ellington Saxophone Encounters

Read "Ellington Saxophone Encounters" reviewed by Edward Blanco

Longtime big band arranger/bandleader Mark Masters happens to be President of the Pasadena, CA-based non-profit American Jazz Institute (AJI), while baritone saxophonist great Gary Smulyan sits on its Advisory Board. Together, the two have often joined forces on musical projects intended to foster and promote jazz; Ellington Saxophone Encounters is another one of their AJI collaborations, this time with the nine-piece Mark Masters Ensemble supplying the musical muscle.Don't be misled by the title of the album, this is ...

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Mark Masters Ensemble: Ellington Saxophone Encounters

Read "Ellington Saxophone Encounters" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Countless albums have been made with the sole intention of honoring the great Duke Ellington by highlighting his personality, piano skills and pile of hits, but they don't tell the whole story; part of his legacy rests with the men who brought his music to life. The individuals who filled out the roster in Ellington's illustrious band earned their own place in history by shaping the sound and identity of his group so, rather than tread on well-worn ground, arranger ...

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Mark Masters Ensemble: Farewell Walter Dewey Redman

Read "Farewell Walter Dewey Redman" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

It's hard to believe that Dewey Redman isn't still around when listening to Mark Masters Ensemble set, Farewell Walter Dewey Redman. Masters and the group--especially alto saxophonist Oliver Lake--capture the soul and sound of the unsung tenor titan on this marvelously inspired recording.Dewey Redman (1931-2006), the father of saxophonist Joshua Redman, is probably best known for his work with Ornette Coleman on albums like The Science Fiction Sessions (Columbia Records, 1972) and New York is Now (Blue Note ...

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Mark Masters Ensemble: Porgy & Bess Redefined!

Read "Porgy & Bess Redefined!" reviewed by George Harris

Well, they said it couldn't be done, but he did it. Arranger Mark Masters has breathed new and refreshing life into Gershwin's Porgy & Bess. Just when you thought Miles may have had the last word back in '61, Masters adds a touch of Mingus, a sprig of Kenton, and songs that you've heard a thousand times sound new and enticing.

As with any stage production, it sure helps to have the right cast, and Masters has a ...


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