Jazz musicians seldom need a special reason to play — but on the other hand, having a special reason can often enliven the creative impulse. This album, recorded two years ago by the University of North Florida’s splendid Jazz Ensemble 1, is quite special indeed, dedicated as it is to the memory of the late Rich Matteson, Jazz educator and mellophonium maestro par excellence who founded the UNF Jazz Studies program in 1986 and led the ensemble until his retirement five years later. As anyone who ever heard Matteson play knows, he was about swinging under any and all conditions, and the ensemble does its level best to live up to his example, powering through impressive charts by Frank Mantooth, Maria Schneider, Sammy Nestico, Al Cohn, Mike Crotty, Don Menza, Tom Kubis, Sam Lussier, Gene Thorne and Barry Greene. While brass and reeds are of course indispensable, they lean heavily for support on an alert and unwavering rhythm section, commanded by drummer Ian Goodman, that never lets them down. Also from the rhythm section come three of the ensemble’s most persuasive soloists — guitarist James Hogan, pianist Scott Giddens and vibraphonist Christian Tamburr. Other standouts are tenor Juan Rollan (“Seems Like Old Times,” Cohn’s “Nose Cone,” “I Want to Be Happy,” Menza’s “Faviana”) and trombonists Clarence Hines (Nestico’s shuffling “Switch in Time”) and Marius Dicpetris (Kubis’ arrangement of wife Carol Jolin’s ballad, “Imagine What a Change Will Do”). Vocalist Lisa Kelly is surprisingly unimpressive, especially as she sounded so marvelous on three earlier albums. Hard to pinpoint the reason but she seems earnest but uncomfortable on Crotty’s up-tempo arrangement of Jerome Kern’s “Yesterdays” and uninspired on Miles Davis’ “All Blues.” Kelly fares better on Vincent Youmans’ “I Want to Be Happy” but is largely overwhelmed by the band thanks to Thorne’s brassy chart and a less–than–helpful studio mix. She isn’t credited on “Flaviana” but that must be her wordless (and nearly inaudible) voice accompanying the theme. And by the way, that’s vibraphonist Tamburr, not guitarist Hogan (as indicated on the sleeve) soloing on “Yesterdays.” The instrumental tracks are first–class, with special plaudits for “Switch in Time,” Greene’s bluesy “Calm After the Storm,” the seductive “Flaviana” and Lussier’s bustling finale, “The Third Kind.” Even though less than flawless, this is the kind of flat–out swinging big–band album Rich Matteson would have loved, and so should you.
Contact: Dr. Keith Javors, Department of Music, University of North Florida, 4567 St. Johns Bluff Rd. South, Jacksonville, FL 32224; phone 904–620–2961; e–mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Web site, www.unfjazzensemble.com
Track Listing: Seems Like Old Times; Coming About; Yesterdays; Switch in Time; All Blues; Nose Cone; Calm After the Storm; I Want to Be Happy; Faviana; Imagine What a Change Will Do; The Third Kind (56:33).
Personnel: J.B. Scott, director; Dan Silva, Perry Greenfield, Juan Carlos Rollan, Jeremy Siegel, Aaron Wilson, reeds; Jason Lichau, Kenny Lavender, Logan Lively, Randall Haywood, trumpet; Marius Dicpetris, Clarence Hines, Wes Boling, Major Bailey, trombone; James Hogan, guitar; Scott Giddens, piano; Christian Tamburr, vibes; Billy Thornton, bass; Ian Goodman, drums; Lisa Kelly, vocals.
Year Released: 2002
| Record Label: UNFJE
| Style: Big Band
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.