The Jazz Professors aren't wearing any hats they don't own; the fact is, they really are Professors in the Jazz Studies program at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Instead of letting the students have all the fun, however, the Professors have recorded three albums of their own, the second Live from UCF-Orlando Jazz Festival
, the third and most recent Do That Again,
this one in a studio. Lest anyone assume these are "vanity" enterprises, it should be noted that in their "spare time" these mentors have performed and recorded with a wide variety of celebrated jazz artists, from Mel Torme
, Maynard Ferguson
and Benny Carter
to Bob Mintzer
, Paquito D'Rivera
, Dave Liebman
, Tom Harrell
, Bill Evans
, Stan Getz
, Zoot Sims
, Rob McConnell
, Louie Bellson
, Clark Terry
, Bob Brookmeyer
and Diane Schuur
. In other words, their classroom instruction ranges well beyond "do as I say" to "do as I do."
Speaking of Getz and Sims, tenor saxophonist Jeff Rupert
immediately pays homage to their overriding influence on "You and the Night and the Music," a sunny standard that opens the concert in Orlando and to which guitarist Bobby Koelble and pianist Per Danielsson
append radiant solos. Danielsson's piano ushers in the handsome ballad "But Beautiful," after which the group welcomes guest tenor Grant Stewart
for some sharp and persuasive exchanges on Burton Lane / Yip Harburg's "Old Devil Moon." Koelble and Danielsson dazzle here, as they do again on Antonio Carlos Jobim
's "No More Blues," which rings down the curtain. Jimmy Rowles
' "The Peacocks," which precedes "No More Blues," is a placid showcase for Rupert's warm tenor. Save for its forty-five minute playing time, a superlative concert session by five well-schooled Professors whose musical knowledge is by no means limited to the classroom.
Perhaps reckoning that one concert alone wouldn't be enough to validate their credentials, the Professors decided to Do That Again,
with pretty much the same results. Rupert shines once more as a Getz / Sims surrogate, the rhythm section is sturdy, and guitarist Koelble and trombonist Michael Wilkinson
add their impressive voices along the way (Koelble on three numbers, Wilkinson on two). The play list consists of four standards and seven originals including Rupert's "(The Home of) Happy Feet," "Do That Again," "The New Creole Love Call" and "Two Bats." Drummer Marty Morell wrote the rhythmically engaging "El Vuelo," Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis
"Hey Lock," Duke Pearson
"Cristo Redentor." The standards are Rodgers and Hart's "Where or When," Irving Berlin's "What'll I Do," Ord Hamilton's too-seldom-heard "You're Blasé" and last but not least, Johnny Mercer's "I Remember You," presented here as a breezy samba. "Cristor Redento" is basically a showpiece for a four-member chorale backed by the core group and trumpeter John Almeida.
Recorded sound is exemplary, as is the over-all performance, while playing time is a respectable one hour. When not in the classroom, these Professors show that experience is one of the best teachers, guiding by example as well as by discourse and lesson plans. Should students pay close attention, they'll find there is much of value to be learned from these well-informed pedagogues.
Jeff Rupert: tenor saxophone; Per Danielsson: piano, keyboard; Bobby Koelble: guitar; Richard Drexler: bass; Marty Morell: drums. Live from Orlando — add Grant Stewart: tenor saxophone (3). Do That Again — Koelble: guitar (3, 7, 11); add Michael Wilkinson: trombone (3, 6); John Almeida: trumpet (7); Richard Drexler, Thomas Potter, Johanna Nordhorn, JoAnne Stephenson: vocal (7).