Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Playlist for Tom Ossana – The Thin Edge – January 3, 2018 MST 7:00 to 9:00p.m. ~ Use this link to access the show online.

Today’s big bands are manned by performers better educated and possibly more fluent than their counterparts in the mid-forties and early fifties. What they lack is the fire in the bellies of those early performers. That fire is comparable to the excitement surrounding the performers during the rock revolution in the sixties. North Texas State’s jazz department began in 1942 promoted by graduate student M. E. Hall.  Wilfred Bain, dean of the School of Music, asked Hall to write his master's thesis on a proposed curriculum for a dance band major. The recording outputs from NTS’s efforts are substantial and worthwhile: a long-winded prelude to the first half-hour’s emphasis on big bands beginning in 1947, in the midst of the bop revolution. Woody Herman lights the fire with Shorty Rogers’ “Keeper of the Flame” featuring Serge Chaloff (bs), Lou Levy (p), Woody (cl), Al Cohn (ts), Terry Gibbs (vb), Bill Harris (tb), Zoot Sims (ts) and Ernie Royal (tp): all of this in three minutes and three seconds! Stan Kenton’s 1953 “New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm” follows with Bill Russo’s “Frank Speaking” highlighting the trombone of Frank Rosolino. Also in 1947, swing-era bandleader Claude Thornhill takes a poke at the bop idiom covering Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie’s “Anthropology” featuring Russo’s trombone, Mario Rollo’s tenor, Barry Galbraith’s guitar and most notably, Lee Konitz’s esoteric alto. Elliot Lawrence and His Orchestra is next, also from 1947, covering Gerry Mulligan’s “Elevation”, a jazz classic. Enter the bands from North Texas State! “NICE!” headed up by Jay Saunder’s Best of the Two with a big band treatment of Lennon and McCartney’s “When I’m Sixty-Four” featuring Matt Hornbeck’s guitar and Miles Davis’ “Nardis” featuring Jonathan Mones, alto saxophone,  Brad Young Chan Kang, guitar and Lupe Barrera, drums. Next from NTS comes “Airstream Artistry” as conceived by Jim Rigg’s Best of the Two covering Frank Foster’s “Booze Brothers” with the spotlight on Stephan Smith’s trombone and Mike Shields’ trumpet. Quincy Jones wraps up this big-band half-hour with his 1990 Saturday Night Life cover of Dizzy Gillespie/Chano Pozo/Gil Fuller’s “Manteca”. In keeping the program’s satire, Quincy takes credit for the composition. Alex Foster improvises on soprano followed by a towering tenor sax solo by the late great Michael Brecker.

Canadian alto saxophonist P.J. Perry's Quartet’s “Alto Gusto ~ Live at the Yardbird Suite” (Cellar Live 2017) gets the second half moving with a cover of Benny Golson’s “Stablemates” – a tune largely identified as a Miles Davis staple. We’ll hear solos from the leader and Jon Mayer’s piano. Herbie Hancock’s uniquely original “Speak Like a Child” (Blue Note 1968) follows with the title track. It’s essentially a showcase for Hancock’s piano supported by a superb ensemble: Bass – Ron Carter, Bass Trombone – Peter Phillips, Drums – Mickey Roker, Flugelhorn – Thad Jones, Flute [Alto] – Jerry Dodgion. Guitarist newcomer Carl Filipiak and the Jimi Jazz Band is next with a cover of Lennon and McCartney’s “Strawberry Fields Forever” from “What Now” (Geometric Records 2017). Closing this half, we get Sweden’s award-winning trumpeter Anders Bergcrantz and his Quartet’s “In This Together” (Dragon Records 1995) performing his “Wake Up” backed by pianist Richie Beirach’s trio including Ron McClure’s bass and Adam Nussbaum’s drums.

Edinburgh-born drummer Andrew Bain's “Embodied Hope” (Whirlwind Recordings 2017) kicks off the third half with his “Accompaniment” featuring George Colligan (p), Jon Irabagon (ts) and Michael Janisch (db). Pianist Billy Lester, an artist that’s been around for decades, yet new to the show, follows with “An Evening with Friends”, his take on John Lennerin’s “Just Friends”, from his “Italy 2016” (Ultra Sound Records (2017). Billy’s approach is reminiscent of both Bud Powell and Lennie Tristano. Miles Davis concludes this half with the other-worldly “Masqualero” – a tune penned by tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter – from “Sorcerer” (Columbia 1967). Miles’ second great quintet includes Shorter, Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams.

Jean Louisa Kelly returns from last week with a cover a George and Ira’s “Someone to Watch over Me” from her “For My Folks” (Louisa Productions 2017). Steve Heckman & Matt Clark’s “Some Other Time / Slow Café” (World City Music 2017) follows with a sax/piano duo cover of Stordahl/Weston/Cahn’s “I Should Care”. Norah Jones gets political with her “Flipside” from her “Day Breaks” (Blue Note 2016). You could say her romantic instincts clash with the new Trump order: “I can't stand when you tell me to get back, if we're all free, then why does it seem we can't just be?” Gregory Porter’s “But Beautiful” (Johnny Burke/Jimmy Van Heusen) comes to us from his “Nat King Cole & Me” (Blue Note 2017). Charlie Haden’s Quartet West follows with Melody Gardot’s penned “If I’m Lucky” from Charlie’s “Sophisticated Ladies” (Universal/EmArcy 2010). Alan Broadbent’s piano and Ernie Watts’ tenor hold everything together. Brit’s Jamie Cullum’s cover of Guy Wood and Robert Mellin’s “My One and Only Love” closes this love-fest from his “Interlude” (Blue Note 2015).

She has a charm that is incomparable. She has a beautiful heart that flows with love. And she has a sensitive soul that enthralls with magic. She was the spark I had been waiting for all my life. ― Avijeet Das

Let's have some fun!

Thanks to Music Director Serah and friends around the world for the program's content.