Monday, April 25, 2016

James Hughes & Jimmy Smith Quintet - Ever Up & Onward (2015)

James Hughes: saxophone
Jimmy Smith: trumpet
Phil Kelly: piano
Takashi Iio: bass
Nate Winn: drums

Audio Culture
Luca's Interlude
East Detroit
There Is A Balm In Gilead
Drum Intro
Penguins and Bunny Rabbits
Keepin' It Real
Transgender Fenderbender
I'll Remember April
I'll Close My Eyes

Audio Culture (J. Smith)
This is tune that I wrote a few years back. It was inspired by one of my biggest personal influences, the late, great Woody Shaw. 

Dots (J. Hughes)
This song is like a sugar rush, bursts of color and playful energy.  I think we all need that from time to time.  When I wrote this, it reminded me of the sound and feeling of laughter when musicians get together.

Luca's Interlude (J. Hughes)
For Luca Iio, who caused us to reschedule our second recording session.  Welcome to the world baby Luca!

East Detroit (J. Smith)
East Detroit is a recent composition, inspired by the astonishing musical spirit of our drummer, Nate Winn. Detroit is incredibly fortunate to have so many world class musicians on the scene and Nate is among the very best. His unique vibe can only come from a true Detroiter. 

There Is A Balm in Gilead (African-American Traditional/Arr. J. Hughes)
I grew up in the church, always sang in the choirs and played piano for them, even did a ten year stint as choir director.  This has long been one of my favorite spirituals.  It deals with our experiences, pains and hardships, to which we often shake our head and ask, “is there no remedy?” 

Drum Intro
We though it would be appropriate to have Nate Winn set the energy for Viridian.

Viridian (J. Hughes)
It is not just the color green, but a philosophical movement.  I wrote this tune using monochromatic harmony and shifting harmonic meters.  Instead of a melody driving the piece, I emphasized harmony and harmonic rhythm which resulted in a tune that is reminiscent of an impressionistic painting.

Zebras, Penguins and Bunny Rabbits (J. Hughes)
I have so much love for my three little nieces, Shea, Alexa and Mira that I had to write a tune for them.  I asked them what their favorite animals were and this was their response.  I was so moved by their unabashed curiosity, passion, and love for the world around them, that even now when I listen back to this track I can see their bright eyes and adorable little smiles.

Keepin' it Real (J. Smith)
This is the first composition that I ever wrote. Written over the chord changes to Hank Mobley's This I Dig of You, I have always felt that this tune works really well uptempo. 

Transgender Fender Bender (J. Smith)
Transgender Fender Bender is a minor blues that was inspired by an (also minor) and rather bizarre auto accident that I witnessed while hanging out in the East Village of NYC a few years back. The exchange that ensued between the drivers was a scene that I just couldn’t resist musically documenting. This is the result. 

I’ll Remember April (DePaul, Johnston, & Raye/Arr. J. Hughes)
This is just a fun tune to play. A jam session favorite for many years, I thought it could use a little freshening up. I wanted to restore some of that spark it had so I gave it a light-hearted treatment, sprinkled with dissonance and unpredictable twists and turns.

I'll Close my Eyes (Kaye/Reid)
This is a very straight forward and in-the-pocket version of one of our very favorite standards. Though we altered the turn around and outro to change it up just a bit, it by and large stays true to its original romantic sound. 

(James Hughes/James Hughes Music, BMI)
(Jimmy Smith/Podikins Music, ASCAP)

James would like to thank:
Jimmy, Phil, Takashi and Nate for their friendship, dedication to this project, and outstanding performance;  Jeff Pedraz, Josh Ford, Mark Byerly and Leslie Kelly for their talent and efforts in producing this; Molly Hughes for her unending support, love and companionship; and the Hughes, Higle, Vickery, Siegel and Parker clans for being good people!  Lastly I would like to acknowledge God, the ultimate creator, whose plan is still unfolding. 

Peace, Love and Harmony!

Jimmy would like to thank:
James, Phil, Takashi and Nate for the music and for their friendship; My wife Liz, mother Linda, brother Patrick and the rest of my friends and family for their continued love and support. Mark Byerly, Jeff Pedraz, Josh Ford & Leslie Kelly for helping us make this recording happen.

“What we play is life.” (Louis Armstrong)