By Dee Dee McNeil

April 5, 2022

This month I was both pleased and surprised to see how much music was released that was tribute oriented.  KEITH OXMAN and his quartet use their talents to celebrate JOEY PEARLMAN, a young bass student who passed away unexpectedly.  HENRY FRANKLIN, ROBERT TURNER and CARL BURNETT celebrate the legacy of The Three Sounds, naming themselves 3 MORE SOUNDS as they celebrate the music of Ray Charles.  The BREV SULLIVAN and the BLUE ROAD RECORDS STUDIO SESSIONS BAND, tributes the music of Ira Sullivan.  Resonance Records has discovered “The Lost Album from Ronnie Scotts” by CHARLES MINGUS.  The MICHAEL LEONHART ORCHESTRA plays original music by Michael Leonhart that tributes Leonhart’s dog, “THE NORMYN SUITES.”  Pianist, composer LYNNE ARRIALE and her TRIO reflect, with reverence, on the life-changing events of the past two years and DAGGERBOARD is an ensemble of California musicians who feature bass master HENRY FRANKLIN on their latest album.  Live tapes were discovered of the iconic PEPPER ADAMS with the TOMMY BANKS TRIO.  Their music is so beautiful, it nearly brought me to tears.  Enjoy reading all about these amazing artists.


Keith Oxman, tenor saxophone/composer; Jeff Jenkins, piano; Mark Simon, bass; Todd Reid, drums; SPECIAL GUESTS: Joey Pearlman, bass; Stevie Pearlman, drums.

This is a feel-good album that reflects reverence and respect (the title of this column), in a beautiful and heartfelt way.  It’s a tribute to a young bassist who made his transition from this earth way too soon. Tenor saxophone master, Keith Oxman, took the death very personally.  As an educator, who mentored Joey Pearlman, Mr. Oxman saw great promise in his student.

“After thirty years of teaching music, I can count a handful of accomplished students who were destined to accomplish great feats.  Notable among those students was the brilliant bassist, Joey Pearlman, whose music and personality brightened every day for us at East High School.  Joey was taken from this world too soon.  His presence brought joy to our music room as he challenged us with his brilliant compositions and performances.  Joey’s musical influence on his classmates, as well as his one-of-a-kind sense of humor, had an undeniable and positive influence on what was really most important in our program; human and musical interaction,” Keith Oxman painted a verbal portrait of his former student and capsulized his inspiration for this album. 

Opening the album with “The Gojon Jazz Messengers” the quartet swings hard with Keith Oxman’s brilliant tenor saxophone out-front and his leadership shining.  The bright, complimentary drums of Todd Reid slam the tempo down and push the band forward with strength and power.  He is given a bright solo opportunity in the spotlight about midway through the song, executing his tenacious drum talent.  When Jeff Jenkins enters, you get to appreciate more, raw, technique and talent.  His innovative approach on the piano adds spice to the arrangement.  The quartet follows this with another Keith Oxman original composition titled, “Lady Vera.”  Mark Simon steps quietly forward on his double bass to ‘wow’ us with a very melodic solo.  This quartet sounds like a group of close-knit friends, anticipating each other and working warmly in conjunction with Oxman’s accomplished compositions. I enjoy Oxman’s melodies and his attention to detail in the arrangements. 

One of my favorite tunes is “Joshua Fought the Battle Against Trump & Co” that reminds me of the exciting Coltrane days of jazz.  Jenkins is wildly creative on piano.  Keith Oxman’s saxophone has a smooth, mellow tone that still manages to capture and encompass power and excitement during his delivery.   This tune sounds like a jazz standard.  Pianist Jenkins has composed “Waltz for Joey” to immortalize the youthful musician who passed away in February of 2021 at the age of twenty-four. 

On this album, you will enjoy a Baker’s Dozen of songs, all well-played and beautifully arranged.  Oxman included a composition by his former student, Joey Pearlman, titled “Garden Song.”  It exhibits the young man’s complex composing talents, obvious even though he was merely a high school student when he penned it.  The final tune is titled “John Paul Jones” (a John Coltrane composition) that was recorded by the deceased Joey Pearlman on bass with his twin brother Stevie playing drums.  Denver has a very tight jazz scene.  All the participants on this project knew Joey and encouraged his talent.  Some had been part of his mentoring process.  After all, East High School in Denver boasts an impressive alumnus including trumpeter, cornetist Ron Miles, guitarist Bill Frisell, jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves and even bandleader Paul Whiteman from back in the 1900s.

According to Thomas Burns of Capri Records, “Most involved contributed their time and some, their money, to make this (project) a reality.”

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Henry Franklin, bass; Robert Turner, piano; Carl Burnett, drums.

This is my kind of trio; bluesy and swinging!   These three incredibly talented musicians have chosen to celebrate the unforgettable brilliance of Ray Charles.  Well, to do that you have to be able to play the blues, drenched in gospel, and also know how to swing.  No problem!  Each of these players are more than proficient to do just that!  Opening with “Let the Good Times Roll,” this trio splashes on the scene with confidence and credibility.  You have to be amazing players to reference the legendary Three Sounds, a jazz group who was originally comprised of Gene Harris, Bill Dowdy and Andy Simpkins.  These three gentlemen were some of my favorite jazz musicians on the planet and man, could they swing!  Franklin, Turner and Burnett wave the “swing” flag brightly and precociously.  Each is a master musician in their own right.  Just listen to their take on Ray’s “Unchain My Heart” or “Hit the Road Jack” smokin’ with gospel flavor, straight-ahead arrangements and solid jazz swing.  When they play, “Georgia” I am captured by the dexterity and deep, blues inuendoes that Robert Turner plays on the piano.  What a wonderful and uniquely talented pianist he is! 

Robert Turner gained his first musical “chops” playing at local Baptist churches in California before studying music at LA City College and Sacramento State University.  You quickly hear how Turner is influenced by piano genius Gene Harris and perhaps he was also inspired by Erroll Garner.  On a more contemporary note, Robert Turner has performed with the likes of Stevie Wonder and Dr. Dre.  Turner spent 5 years in Japan, partly studying music at the Yamaha school of music in Nagoya and the other part of the time, “gigging.”  Later he relocated to Shanghai, China and became a steady member of the band PGP, as well as working as a featured and award-winning artist with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.  Turner has scored music for films such as “Contradictions of the Heart” and produced several CDs including “China Piano,” “Silent Night,” and “Blues for Gene” (referencing Gene Harris).

Henry Franklin has long been a mainstay of jazz bass in the Southern California community.  At age eighteen, he was the bassist with the now historic Roy Ayres congregation.

“Roy had the Latin Jazz Quintet that included Bill Henderson (piano), sometimes Elmo Jones on piano, me and Carl Burnett (drums),” Henry recalled.

Henry has worked with Billy Higgins, Willie Bobo, and was part of the Hugh Masekela ensemble that recorded the historically famous “Grazin’ in the Grass” hit single.  He recorded with Stevie Wonder on the “Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants” album and recorded with Gene Harris for Blue Note’s “Soul Symphony” release and “Live at the IT Club.”  Franklin has toured with jazz nobility like Freddie Hubbard, Archie Shepp, O.C. Smith, Count Basie and Al Jarreau, just to name a few.  He continues to be an in-demand bandleader and sideman.

Carl Burnett, the drummer in this 3 More Sounds group, has also experienced an illustrious career.  Carl’s drums have backed artists ranging from Sarah Vaughn, Freddie Hubbard, Billy Childs, Art Pepper and Eddie Harris to Marvin Gaye and O.C. Smith.  He can be heard on albums by Horace Silver, Art Pepper, the Three Sounds,FreddieHubbard and Kenny Burrell, among others.  Together, these three very impressive gentlemen offer an album beautifully produced and exquisitely played to tribute not only Ray Charles, but the unforgettable memory and music of The Three Sounds. 

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Brev Sullivan and Leo Quintero, lead guitars; Miriam Stone, acoustic & electric guitars; Javier Espinoza, bass; Yainer Horta, Keyboards/saxophone; Kevin Abanto, drums/percussion.

American jazz trumpeter, flugelhornist, flautist, saxophonist, and composer, Ira Sullivan, passed away in 2020 at the ripe old age of eighty-nine, leaving behind a legacy of musical compositions and recordings for the world to enjoy.  The Blue Road Records Studio Sessions Band is composed of South Florida’s crème-de-la-crème music makers. The band has an international flair inclusive of lead guitarists, Brev Sullivan (U.S. born) and Leo Quintero who was born in Venezuela.  Bassist, Javier Espinoza, also hails from Venezuela and percussionist Kevin Abanto arrived on the U.S. music scene from Peru.  Keyboardist and saxophone master, Yainer Horta is Cuban and Miriam Stone (also a proficient guitarist on both electric and acoustic guitars) has Cuban roots.  Miriam Stone and Brev Sullivan became fast friends and decided, shortly after Ira Sullivan died, to produce a tribute album.  Brev is actually Ira Sullivan’s son and has performed on stage with his father.

Brev explained, “I wanted to make this album to not only preserve his legacy, but also preserve the memory of those moments that are dear to me when I performed with him on stage.”

Miriam Stone recalls what inspired her to join this project. 

“I was privileged to have met Ira at one of his concerts.  The band was exquisite and Brev was with him.  I felt that Ira and I had formed a personal connection.  I knew making this album would be challenging, because the music is so complex.  But it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had as a musician,” Miriam confessed.

Although this Blue Road Records Band has rock-roots and Ira Sullivan was cut from a bebop cloth, this project manages to compliment and enrich the Sullivan legacy.  They open with the familiar Cole Porter standard,” I Get a Kick Out of You” swinging from the very first licks of Kevin Abanto’s busy drums.  He establishes a brisk pace and interjects a boisterous drum solo at the top of the tune that is star quality.  The guitar solo runs alongside the rhythm like a racehorse towards the finish line.  “Monday’s Dance” is a wonderful opportunity for Brev Sullivan and Leo Quintero to let their lead guitars soak up the spotlight.  This is an Ira Sullivan composition that opens with a melodic line that reminds me of the Wichita Lineman song.  I wonder if Jimmy Webb heard Ira’s beautiful “Monday’s Dance” tune and was inspired or vice versa? 

Although Ira Sullivan was a bebop musician at heart, having played with the likes of Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Red Rodney and Roland Kirk, in later years he embraced a younger generation of musicians.  He liked Pat Metheny and mentored Jaco Pastorius at one point.  Ira enjoyed the fusion era of music and some of his charts reflect that change of musical heart.   You hear this on Sullivan’s tune, “Multimedia” where the band employs solid Latin rhythms and energetically arranges a song Ira says he wrote to capture the sounds of his students practicing.  This song is stuffed with fusion inspiration and the electric guitar sings like a happy bird on steroids.  Both “Monday’s Dance” and “Multimedia” are some of my favorites on this album.  The fusion input continues on the Sullivan tune, “Nineveh” with shades of blues and rock brightly coloring the arrangement.  Tad Dameron’s “Our Delight” reverts back to bebop and swing roots. The band sounds great and shuffles us into “Little Train of Caipira” on Track #8.  It opens quietly, celebrating the guitar playing a’ cappella before the band joins in.  The drums mimic the sound of a locomotive picking up speed, playing double time underneath the pretty melody.  “Espresso Bueno” is another Sullivan composition and another favorite.  It’s saturated in Latin rhythms that make me want to dance. The music lifts my spirits, especially when Yainer Horta takes a soaring solo on saxophone.  Abanto once again struts his stuff on percussive drums.  They close with “Amazing Grace,” offering a guitar prayer whispered to the wind. 

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Michael Leonhart, orchestra conductor/composer/arranger/trumpet/drums/guitar/accordion/ mellotron/optigon/organ/pump organ. ORCHESTRA:  Peter Schwartz, organ; Robbie Mangano, Luke O’Malley & Caruso Srebnick, guitar; Danton Boller, Richie Goods, Jay Leonhart & Joe Martin, bass; Nicholas Movshon, Daniel Freedman, Homer Steinweiss & E.J. Strickland, drums; Elizabeth Pupo-Walker, Kevin Raczka, Jens Jungkurth, Mauro Refosco, Joey Waronker, Stephane San Juan, Leo Sidran & Daniel Yvinek, percussion; BRASS: Frank Greene, Keyon Harrold, Freddie Hendrix, Tony Kadleck, Jordan McLean, Billy Aukstik, Eric Biondo, Jeff Pierce, Scott Wendholt, Carter Yasutake, trumpet; Todd Simon, trumpet/euphonium; Michael Leonhart, trumpet/mellophonium/French horn/trombone; Nathan Koci, French horn; Ray Mason, trombone; Ryan Keberle & Jeff Nelson, bass trombone; John Altieri, sousaphone.  SAXOPHONES/WOODWINDS:  Chris Bullock,bassclarinet/piccolo flute/flute/alto flute/bass flute; Michael Blake, tenor saxophone/flute; Stuart Bogie, clarinet; John Ellis, Daniel Srebnick, Morgan Price & Brandon Wright, flute; Sam Sadigursky, piccolo flute/flute; Chris Potter, bass clarinet; Jason Marshall & Cochemea Gastelum, baritone saxophone/flute; Sara Schoenbeck, bassoon. STRINGS: Pauline Kim & Claudia Chopek, violins; Ludovica Burtone, viola/violin; Emily Hope-Price & Erik Friedlander, cello. CHOIR: Elvis Costello, Catherine Russell, Rebecca Haviland, Donna Leonhart, Jamie Leonhart, Carolyn Leonhart, La Tanya Hall, Paul Brill, Milo Leonhart & Vaughn Escoffery. FEATURED SOLOISTS: Joshua Redman, tenor saxophone; JSwiss, rapper; Bill Frisell, guitar; Jim Pugh, trombone; Walt Weiskopf, tenor saxophone; Nels Cline, guitar; Michael Leonhart, trumpet; Larry Goldings, Hammond B3 organ; Chris Potter, bass clarinet; Donny McCaslin, tenor saxophone.

It begins like a funk tune, inviting a guitar to pluck a groove and then the voice of Elvis Costello starts to sing. A rap is injected, spoken word by JSwiss.  Frankly, I wasn’t expecting this kind of contemporary music under the banner of an orchestra.  The orchestra itself is powerful, creating a groove and inviting a sax solo by Joshua Redman that lifts this opening piece (“Shut Him Down”) out of commerciality and into jazz reverence.  All tracks have been composed, arranged and conducted by Michael Leonhart, a respected trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist.  Leonhart was a longtime member of Steely Dan, a popular commercial rock group from the 1970’s.  “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” became one of their hit records, rising to #1 on the Pop charts. They were a group blending rock, R&B, pop and, on this arrangement, using the popular jazz riff from a Horace Silver tune (Song for My Father) to open their pop record.

Orchestra conductor, Michael Leonhart, has written this double suite of music to tribute his fifteen-year- old dog, a female mini-Dachshund named Normyn.  In addition to trumpet, Leonhart is also a singer, pianist, songwriter, organist, accordionist and film composer.  His studio session credits are diversified.  He played on the Bruno Mars/Mark Ronson hit record, “Uptown Funk” and he produced the Donald Fagen “Sunken Condos” 2012 album release.  So, you see how connected he is to the element of funk and fun.

However, after the opening song of his own album with this orchestra, the songs are, although beautiful, more remorseful and lethargic.  “The Normyn Suite #1” is divided into titles like: Denial, Anger, Catharsis, Nostalgia and Acceptance.  Still, during this production the Michael Leonhart Orchestra traverses a great deal of musical terrain, epitomized in their exploration of the “Radio is Everything” composition. It opens with spoken word and a lush orchestrated background.  The male voice speaks poetic:

 “They say I have a perfect face for radio and a trumpet for listening.”

I’m intrigued by the poetry and by Michael Leonhart’s mournful cry on trumpet.  This is followed by The Normyn Suite #2, featuring six songs that celebrate love and loss.  This music plays like a film soundtrack.  It’s very beautiful, but sad.  The addition of harmonic voices brings a warmth to the tracks.  Especially emotional and poignant is the twelfth track, “La Preghiera” that features beautiful piano work.  There are two bonus quartet tracks.  One is titled “Kenny Dorham” and the other is called, “Wayne Shorter.”  These tracks are full of rhythm and a happy lightness, featuring Michael Leonhart on trumpet and Donny McCaslin on saxophone.  They appear last on the album, but are worth the wait!

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Lynne Arriale, piano; Jasper Somsen, double bass; E. J. Strickland, drums.

Welcome to Lynne Arriale’s sixteenth album release as a leader.  It’s her third trio recording.  This album is meant to reflect the life-changing events of the past two years.  Several of her original compositions reflect heroes around the world, some who served as caregivers during the horrible COVID pandemic.  She tributes them with reverence and respect, opening with “March On.”  This phrase was common around my home and neighborhood, as people tried to protect themselves from the virus and still manage to march forward with their individually affected lives.  For Lynne, this is a tribute to activists around the world who kept pushing forward through the fear, the disease and the political unrest.  Track #2 is infused with classical European music and quite beautiful.   The melody is inviting, like the title itself; “The Lights Are Always On.”  Track #3 is called “Sisters” and is soaked in gospel richness.  Lynne Arriale has included a composition to tribute Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman titled, “Honor.”  He stood up for ‘right’ in the face of heavy, political backlash.  He must have been torn to have to speak up during a time of such political turmoil in our country and in Ukraine.  Arriale’s blending of two melodic ideas creatively recalls that decision-making time and shows, with music, how two very different opinions can merge to reinforce each other.  Jasper Somsen brings his double bass to the forefront and adds a delightful solo song.  This composition is meant to characterize one American patriot’s unwavering pride in country and commitment to do what is honest and good.  Her song, “Loved Ones” takes my breath away with its beauty.  Lynne’s artistic fingers dance happily across the piano keys and her melody is springtime bright.  She also tributes “The Notorious RBG” with a song to remind us of the amazing stamina and legal fortitude that Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg brought to our court system and to our nation. This melody is regal.  It rings true to something deep inside of me and makes me want to sing along; march along; play it again.  It becomes one of my favorites on this album of original Arriale compositions. I also love “Into the Breach” that somehow reminds me of the John Coltrane days and, for me, tickles bebop memories.  Actually, her press package explains this song was written in remembrance of the January 6th insurrection and the heroes that saved democracy on that day.  “Walk In My shoes” is dedicated to the memory and work of civil rights icon and conscientious congressman, John Lewis.   She closes with “Heroes.” That title pretty much sums up all of these musical tributes.  It’s also a heartfelt ballad, composed by Arriale, in recognition of those who have brought light to a very dark period of our United States history.  She offers her music, like a beacon of hope.

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Matt Clark, piano/Fender Rhodes; Roger Glenn, vibes; Russ Howe, guitar/composer/arranger; Erik Jekabson, trumpet/flugelhorn/arranger/composer; Henry Franklin, bass/composer; Gregory Howe, percussion/composer; Mike Hughes, drums; Mads Tolling & Anthony Blea, violins; Charith Premawardhana, viola; Ben Davis, Cello.

On their recent release, the Daggerboard group is featuring the big, bad bass of Henry Franklin.  As usual, they have a tight, cohesive sound as an ensemble.  However, on this project they have added the beauty of strings that gives these arrangements a peaceful, lovely ambience.  When people speak the name Henry Franklin, or ‘The Skipper’ (as he is lovingly referred to) you might see those people smiling.  There is a certain respect and reverence attached to this historic bassist.  He has played with such a long list of luminaries; it would take the whole page to list their names.  ‘The Skipper’ has a gold record for his “Grazin’ in the Grass” hit record recorded with the late, great Hugh Masekela.  He was part of the Roy Ayers ensemble when they were all fledgling musicians.  Based in Southern California, you may have seen him working the jazz scene in a number of places.  Most recently he has recorded with and toured with drummer Carl Burnett and pianist, Robert Turner under the banner of “3 More Sounds.”

Franklin (The Skipper) opens the first tune of this album, “The Dream Within a Dream,” with a funky bass line that sets the mood and tempo.  The strings hoover, like a circling bird and then the guitar of Ross Howe takes over.  It sounds like the soundtrack to a Western film.  The drums shuffle like horse hooves and the trumpet of Erik Jekabson soars above the groove.  It’s a compelling composition.  Track #2, “Agapanthus” is the name of a lavender ‘Lily of the Nile’ plant and becomes a springboard for trumpeter Erik Jekabson to explore.  He has a smooth relaxed approach to his solo exploration.   On Track #3 titled “Involuntary Separation” the arrangement reminds me of the Miles Davis ‘Sketches in Spain’ album.  It’s not the tone of Jekabson’s horn, but the ‘vibe’ of the production that recalls the Davis history-breaking album.  The featured artist, Henry Franklin, has contributed one original composition for this project called “Henry’s Garden.”  He opens the piece on double bass and it’s a heartfelt solo that grabs the attention immediately.  Oaxaca is a city in Mexico, and Daggerboard’s “Oaxacan Standoff” tune is very Spanish-influenced composition that features guitarist Russ Howe and the spectacular drums of Gregory Howe and Mike Hughes.  Gregory Howe has written seven of the nine songs on this album in collaboration with Erik Jekabson.  The strings are given a bright spotlight on a tune called “Video Culture.”  Mads Tolling and Anthony Blea on violin, along with Charith Premawardhana on viola and Ben Davis on Cello whisk me away to imaginative places where fiddles gather around a campfire in the wild, wild West and people dance into the fire-lit night.  This is a lovely listen.

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Pepper Adams, baritone saxophone/composer; Tommy Banks, piano; Bobby Cairns, electric bass; Tom Doran, drums.

There is rarely something as beautiful as Pepper Adams playing his baritone saxophone.  I was absolutely excited when I heard that the Cellar Music Group’s archival imprint, Reel to Real, was releasing a two-disc set recorded ‘live’ on September 25, 1972.  The Tommy Banks trio, featuring Pepper Adams, was performing at the University of Alberta in Canada.  Pepper was born in Highland Park, Michigan, Oct 8, 1930, and is known for his work with John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Lee Morgan, Donald Byrd and a plethora of other iconic jazz legends.  Some say Pepper Adams often felt as though he had been overlooked and perhaps, even disparaged as a bandleader.  This amazing concert should put all such thoughts and rumors aside.  Here we have a cultural artifact that clearly justifies the Adams mastery of his instrument and upholds his position as bandleader and a legendary baritone player.

According to the 28-page booklet included in this double set release, Coleman Hawkins was one of Pepper’s biggest fans.  One of Adams’ closest friends was Don Byas.  He too adored Pepper’s style and talent.  In 1985, Dizzy Gillespie confided in Cecil Bridgewater how much he admired Pepper Adams and how his mastery utilized the baritone sax in a completely different and unexpected way from other players.  In the booklet, a number of Pepper’s peers shower him with praise and accolades.  As I listen to “Oleo” played at a maddening pace and challenging even the layman’s snap of fingers, Pepper Adams makes the fast-paced tune sound as casual and natural as breathing in and out.  It’s nineteen minutes of pure bliss!  Tommy Banks jumps stage front and executes a splendid solo on piano.  He’s followed by Bobby Cairns on an electric bass, playing non-stop Straight-ahead and I don’t even mind that it’s an electronic solo.  Cairns sounds great!  They follow the bass solo by trading fours and giving Tom Doran a time to shine on trap drums.  It’s quite exciting and I feel that I’m in the room and spellbound along with the rest of the appreciative audience.  This is the opening number on Disc two and it thrills me!  They follow this with “Tis” a composition only two minutes and thirty-some seconds long, but still inspired and fiery.  “Time On My Hands” is a tune I usually enjoy hearing a vocalist sing; especially Little Jimmy Scott.  However, Pepper Adams makes me appreciate the song without lyrics and simply enjoy the way he interprets it.  They perform it as a slow swing and I love it.  The baritone saxophone sings, swoops and dives through the melody like a wild bird.  I wonder how he can take a breath deep enough to spit out all those jazzy, non-stop phrases.  His playing is so beautiful, it nearly brings tears to my eyes.  Disc #2 closes with a bonus track, “Stella by Starlight,” that begins already in progress and is flying fast as a 747-jet plane. 

Disc One is also stellar and inspired.  It opens with “Three and One” (a Thad Jones composition) where Pepper Adams plays a blistering and spellbinding solo to exhibit his genius.  In the accompanying CD booklet, they reveal that virtually nothing exists of Pepper Adams recording with a trio during that 1970s period.  In 1968 he did record with Zoot Sims, Tommy Flanagan, Ron Carter and Elvin Jones.  In 1973 there was a quartet recording for Spotlite Records with Roland Hanna, George Mraz and Mel Lewis. But this current release gives Pepper the spotlight on long, illustrious solos, something he rarely got a chance to show-off during other recordings.  He’s free to let loose during these ‘live’ performances and play as long as he feels the spirit move him. He also plays two original compositions: “Patrice” and “Civilization and its Discontents.”   This music took my breath away! The LP releases April 23, 2022 and the CD & digitals will be released May 6, 2022.

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Charles Mingus, bass/composer; John Foster, piano/vocals; Roy Brooks, drums/musical saw; Jon Faddis, trumpet; Charles McPherson, alto saxophone; Bobby Jones, tenor saxophone/clarinet.

Resonance Records has released a three-album glimpse into the music of Charles Mingus, during the prime of his career.  Resonance Records has established itself as top-of-the-line in the business of independent labels who search for unreleased jazz treasures. Surely, this is one of their big discoveries. It was recorded ‘live’ at the famed London-based, Ronnie Scott’s Club in 1972 and will be released this month to celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of Charles Mingus this year.  The ‘live’ set is comprised of almost two-and-a-half hours of music that originally was recorded professionally on eight-track tapes. 

“This is a lost chapter in Mingus’ history.  Originally intended to be an official album release by Mingus, it never materialized. … It’s especially exciting to be celebrating Mingus with this release in his centennial year,” said Zev Feldman, Resonance Records co-president.

What a line-up of musicianship!  Mingus is joined by the legendary Detroit musician, Roy Brooks on drums and musical saw; by the brilliance of nineteen-year-old Jon Faddis on trumpet, blowing holes through the ceiling with those very high notes he plays, and the now iconic Charles McPherson on alto saxophone.  Bobby Jones played tenor sax and clarinet, while John Foster was new on the ‘set’ and had replaced pianist Jaki Byard on the 88-keys.  With personnel like that on the bandstand, you can only expect greatness. Their very first tune on CD #1 is titled “Orange Was the Color of Her Dress, Then Silk Blues” and the conversation between the Charles Mingus bass and the Faddis trumpet is formidable and exciting.  Their first song runs thirty-plus-minutes long and is stuffed with blues interludes and improvisational master moments.

During his time in England, Mingus was interviewed by a journalist named Brian Priestley who published the book, “Mingus: A Critical Biography.” 

Mingus philosophized, “Life has many changes.  Tomorrow it may rain and it’s supposed to be sunshine because it’s summertime.  But God’s got a funny soul.  He plays like Charlie Parker.  He may run some thunder on you.  He may take the sun up and put it in the nighttime, the way it looks to me.”    

“Noddin’ Ya Head Blues” completes the two-tune CD #1 in the most Mingus way.  He opens solo on the double bass and sets the rhythm and tone for the piece.  Then John Foster’s voice enters the scene, singing the story.  Turns out, not only is Foster an amazing pianist, he’s also a very good blues singer and gives a nod to Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vincent during the performance. Roy Brooks introduces the audience to his wood-cutting-saw solo, to much appreciation and applause.

Charles McPherson described the music of Mingus by saying, “… Organized chaos is the term because that’s the way Mingus’s music really did sound.  It did have almost this free-wheeling kind of vibe and yet, you can tell it’s written out; it’s thought about.  It has all the elements of organization, but still, it has the elements of spontaneity.”

Along with three discs of Mingus music, you will also be gifted with a booklet stuffed with information about these master players, photographs, the complete interview transcript of Brian Priestley questioning Charles Mingus and Charles McPherson in 1972.  There is a section in the booklet where Fran Lebowitz remembers her very personal connection to Charles Mingus.  It’s great reading!  I laughed out loud at some of Fran’s stories.  There is also an excerpt from the autobiography “Tonight at Noon: A Love Story” by Sue Graham-Mingus.  It’s a sixty-four-page booklet that is full of historic music information, serious and comedic memoirs, plus gives an in-depth insight into Charles Mingus, the man.  You can lie there and listen to his unique brilliance on disc, while reading all about him while you listen. 

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