Deservedly rising in public consciousness and critical acclaim from its West Coast cultish following, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (CHJO) possesses a quality that distinguishes it from other big bands: an unforced inherent swing. Taking a cue from Basie minimalism combined with a hard drive, CHJO can't help but ooze blues from every beat and every measure. The composition "Shout Me Out" assumes a Hefti-ish heavily accented anticipation of the beat, a la "Li'l Darling." "Plunger Mute Syndrome," once again a blues, arranges for an alternating brass-and-sax give-and-take as Basie piano tickles fill the fourth measures, just before 22-year-old trombone wunderkind Isaac Smith goes gutbucket with astounding results. On "Nice To Meet You," pianist Bill Cunliffe introduces the tune with a signature Basie-like single-note improvisation, backed by Jim Hershman's Freddie Green-like rhythm guitar, Christoph Luty's walking bass and Jeff Hamilton's lightly prodding drumwork.
Just as the listener thinks that CHJO captures and retains the spirit of Basie, the band includes an original ballad, "Yellow Flowers After," that transforms the band's exuberance into an expression of loss akin to "I Remember Clifford." Charles Owens' lilting remembrance of his friend on "One For Horace Tapscott" reworks a fairly simple phrase into a soaring soprano sax flight supported elegantly by Bill Cunliffe and Jeff Hamilton before the band intensifies the feeling through crescendo and extended climax.
After ten big band arrangements that inspire the individual musicians to a high degree of unity and personalized solos, the biggest surprise is the conclusion: John Clayton's virtuosity on Antonio Carlos Jobim's "How Insensitive," the nuances of Clayton's style accented by Hamilton's sensitive percussive like-mindedness.
Shout Me Out; Max; Plunger Mute Syndrome; Yellow Flowers After; Grizzly; Day By Day; Nice To Meet You; One For Horace Tapscott; Barbara's Rose; I Want A Little Girl; How Insensitive
John Clayton, Jr., arco bass; Jeff Clayton, alto sax, flute, oboe, piccolo; Jeff Hamilton, drums; Bijon Watson, "Snooky" Young, Oscar Brashear, Clay Jenkins, Bobby Rodriguez, trumpet; Ira Nepus, Geoge Bohanon, Isaac Smith, Maurice Spears, trombone; Keith Fiddmont, alto sax, clarinet; Rickey Woodard, tenor sax, clarinet; Charles Owens, soprano & tenor sax, clarinet; Lee Callet, baritone sax & bass clarinet; Bill Cunliffe, piano; Jim Hershman, guitar; Christoph Luty, bass
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.