Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Art Zoyd + Cuneiform Announce Exclusive Pre-sale of their First-Ever Box Set

Join Cuneiform Records and Art Zoyd to Help Create Their First-Ever Box Set.

This is a pre-sale of Cuneiform Records' FIRST-EVER BOX SET. This will also be the first-ever box set of Art Zoyds' works.

It is a MASSIVE release by ART ZOYD of all previously unreleased material. It will cost us a fortune to manufacture this, and we do not have a fortune, so we are asking Art Zoyd's fans and our friends and fans to help us to be able to release this by paying for their copy in advance directly from us. This will give us the needed funds to pay for its manufacture which we need in order to make this set a reality.

Important, please read: If we do not sell enough copies of this set here, by March 1, we will be forced to cancel the release and your money will be refunded. If all goes as we hope and plan, we will send you confirmation of production in early March, and we will ship the boxes and shirts to you sometime in May 2017.

In return, and in thanks for your early purchase, you will receive a...FREE LIMITED EDITION ART ZOYD T-SHIRT that will ONLY BE MADE EXCLUSIVELY FOR THOSE WHO PRE-BUY THIS BOX SET; if someone orders it from us after this pre-sale or anywhere else, the price will remain the same, but they will not receive the shirt!

If you want to order, please ONLY order this item. If you want other items from us, please place a separate order for those items.

Thank you for your help in making this gargantuan project happen!!


Art Zoyd's 44 1/2:
Live and Unreleased Works

This is what is included in the box set...

12 CDs featuring:
• Live in Berlin, The Loft (April 1986)
• Häxan, Live in Copenhagen, European Capital of Culture (February 1996)
• u•B•I•Q•U•e, Live in Maubeuge, La Luna (January 2000)
• Lindbergh (circa 1990)
• Le mariage du ciel et de l’enfer, Live in Paris, with the Ballet National de Marseille   (Roland Petit), Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (March 1985)
• Live in Paris, Le Golf Drouot (1972)
• Live in Nancy (1975)   
• Live at Pop Club avec José Artur, Radio France (1974)
• Live in Paris, Théâtre de la Renaissance (1976)
• Live in Mons, with Musiques Nouvelles (2000)
• “La Nuit du Jabberwock,” with members of Musiques Nouvelles, Live in Armentières, Le Vivat (2002)
• Live in Grenoble, 38èmes Rugissants Festival (1990)
• Live in Maubeuge, Art Zoyd with the Orchestre National de Lille (2000)
• Symphonie pour le jour où brûleront les cités (1975/orch. 2000)
• Live in Mexico, Art Zoyd with the Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México (1999)
• Armageddon, actes 2 & 3, Live in Lille (2004)
• Musiques Inédites demos (1987-1992)
• Faust  (unreleased, 1992)
• Les Présidents (1980)
• Korbes (1995)
• Live at Pop Club avec José Artur, Radio France (1975)
• Les Escalators mystérieux (2005)
• Globe Arena (1989)
• Musique pour le Six-Centenaire du Beffroi de Bethune (1988)
• Bethune 1789 (1989)
• Les Inattendus de Maubeuge “Spoutnik” (1993)
• Les Trois Mousquetaires
• Flixecourt Tisserands
• La Guerre de Marguerite
• Au nom du Père (1991)  
• Malbodium (1987)
• L'étrangleur est derrière vous (1983)
• Terra Terra! (1986)
• Live in Nancy (1975)
• Live in Reims, Maison de la Culture (1980)
• Live performance (excerpt) for Radio Tonkraft, Stockholm (October 3, 1979)
• Marco Polo (1984)

2 DVDs featuring:
• 44 1/2, the birthday concert, Live at Maison de la Musique, Cap’Découverte, Le Garric, France, Rock In Opposition Festival 2015 (September 19, 2015)
• Live in Berlin, Centre Culturel Français de Berlin (April 14–15, 1986)
• Live on Phase IV / FR3 TV, Hôtel de Ville de Maubeuge (December 1982)
• Nosferatu - Teaser (1988)
• Musique pour l'Odyssée / FR3 Nord Picardie TV excerpt (1979)
• Le mariage du ciel et de l'enfer (excerpts) / Antenne 2 TV (1985)

Art Zoyd's 44 1/2:

Live and Unreleased Works

“Art Zoyd is a quartet, but their instrumental arsenal produces the sound of a mighty orchestra.”
– The New York Times

“...the uncompromising classic 1982 opus Phase IV is justifiably considered one of the group's peak accomplishments. The Rock in Opposition co-founders marry dark, unsettling atmospherics à la Univers Zero to precise minimalist constructs with hints of Philip Glass or Steve Reich.”
– AllMusic

Originally founded as a psychedelic / progressive rock band in France in 1969, with the arrival of soon-to-be co-leaders Gerard Hourbette and Thierry Zaboitzeff in 1971 and then with the departure of the band’s founder, the group radically changed direction. By 1975 they were no longer a ‘rock’ band with guitars and drums, the band were now a based around the unique sounds of violins, electric bass and cello and trumpet, with additional instrumentation.

In 1976, Art Zoyd released their first album, toured with Magma and within a few years were invited to become one of only eight members of the Rock In Opposition Movement, a musician-led organization of some of the most cutting edge bands from Europe who banded together to increase their opportunities for work.

By the early 1980s, they were touring internationally and were a figurehead of ‘new music’ or ‘avant rock’. Beginning in the mid 80s into the mid 90s, they were at their peak renown, collaborating with choreographer Roland Petit, who commissioned them to work with him on a full ballet: Le Marriage Du Ciel et De L’Enfer (The Marriage Of Heaven & Hell) as well as performing live, self-penned soundtracks to classic silent films such as Nosferatu, Faust and Haxan. Concurrent with this period and their work in ballet and with films, the music shifts towards a more electronic, stripped-down and modern sound during this era.

In 2014, after a period of inactivity, Gerard and Thierry began to speak to each other about the idea of performing some retrospective concerts to celebrate their many achievements and performing as much music from the past as was practical in a concert with as many old collaborators as could be included. The first of these events was held in September 2015 at the Rock In Opposition Festival in Carmaux, France.

This 14-disc set is an outgrowth of the celebration of the decades of Art Zoyd’s far-sighted musical work.

Every CD is filled to the bursting with nearly 80 minutes of music. There are basically eight CDs of live recordings stretching from the years 1972-2004 and four CDs of studio recordings, sketches and outtakes from 1980-2005.

Of the two DVDs, one is comprised of historical television appearances from the late 70s into the end of the 80s and the other being the entire performance of their celebration at the RIO Festival.

“Art Zoyd...is one of the most important collectives in the world - dangerous and challenging.”
– The Absolute Sound

“...a description of Art Zoyd can not be contained in a single adjective.”
– New York Post


The Ed Palermo Big Band is Making America Un-Great Again with a Brilliant Blast of Anglophilia, transforming British Rock Treasures into Wildly Inventive Jazz Vehicles on the Double Album:
The Great Un-American Songbook Volumes I & II

From the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Jeff Beck to King Crimson, Traffic, and Jethro Tull, Palermo’s 18-piece ensemble Storms the British Invasion and Plants the American Flag (upside down)

Crazy times call for outrageous music, and few jazz ensembles are better prepared to meet the surreality of this reality-TV-era than the antic and epically creative Ed Palermo Big Band. The New Jersey saxophonist, composer and arranger is best known for his celebrated performances interpreting the ingenious compositions of Frank Zappa, an extensive body of work documented on previous Cuneiform albums such as 2006’s Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance and 2009’s Eddy Loves Frank

His fifth project for the label, The Great Un-American Songbook Volumes 1 & 2 is a love letter to the rockers who ruled the AM and FM airwaves in the 1960s via successive waves of the British Invasion. Featuring largely the same stellar cast of players as last year’s gloriously eclectic One Child Left Behind, the 18-piece EPBB lovingly reinvents songs famous and obscure, leaving them readily recognizable and utterly transformed. The first installments in what he hopes to be an ongoing project (he is currently working on an Un-American Songbook, Volume 3), these two volumes give a whole new meaning to Swinging London.

Volume 1 kicks off with guitarist/vocalist Bruce McDaniel belting Lennon and McCartney’s “Good Morning, Good Morning” (Palermo obsessives will notice that the track opens with a bleating goat, which is rumored to be the same creature heard at the end of One Child Left Behind…how’s that for continuity?) The Beatles provide the widest thread running through the project, including an instrumental version of “Eleanor Rigby” that’s a tour de force by violinist Katie Jacoby (who also tears up King Crimson’s prog rock masterpiece “Larks’ Tongue in Aspic, Part 2”).

Palermo deploys his surging horns on an ecstatically sanguinary romp through Blodwyn Pig’s “Send Your Son to Die,” and delivers another blast of brass on the extended arrangement of Nicky Hopkins’ “Edward, The Mad Shirt Grinder,” a piece introduced on Quicksilver Messenger Service’s album Shady Grove. A pedant might quibble that a recording by a San Francisco band doesn’t belong in The Great Un-American Songbook, but was there a more British Brit than Hopkins, the era’s definitive session keyboardist? Anyway, the picaresque piece provides the players with a consistently inspiring vehicle for improvising, including Ben Kono’s torrid tenor, John Bailey’s thoughtful and beautifully calibrated trumpet, and another arresting violin solo by Jacoby.

More than any other EPBB release, The Great Un-American Songbook is like rummaging around Palermo’s record collection and playing tracks at random after imbibing an espresso-laced bottle of absinth. He’s the first to admit that the album is a highly personal and nostalgia-induced undertaking. “Almost everything I do lately is reliving my past,” Palermo says. “With the craft and skill I’ve developed being an arranger for all these years, I can now take those songs that I grew up with and loved, and reinterpret them. I picked my favorite songs, songs that I’m going to want to hear and play a lot. There’s really no other way to explain my selection process.”

Volume 2 opens with another rule-breaking wild card, as Palermo mashes up the Berkeley punk band Green Day’s bitter indictment “American Idiot” with the point-counterpoint exchange of the West Side Story anthem “America.” In his completely unnecessary defense, Palermo points out that he’s inspired by the version of “America” that Keith Emerson recorded with his pre-ELP band The Nice, rather than the Broadway cast album or film soundtrack. Jethro Tull’s “Beggar’s Farm” features an appropriately charged Ben Kono flute solo, while also unleashing Bruce McDaniel’s vocals, which register just the right tone of reverent irreverence (or is that irreverent reverence?). There are far too many highlights to mention them all, but Napoleon Murphy Brock’s vocals on The Crazy World of Arthur Brown’s “Fire” sounds like a lost Zappa outtake (Zappologists will catch numerous Zappa quotes and references laced throughout the project). 

Speaking of irreverence, Palermo populates the Songbook with a vivid cast of characters providing some running commentary, including his fey executive producer, Edvard Loog Wanker III, Pete Best, and Ringo Starr’s long-lost cousin, Mick Starkey, who ends the album with a brief blast of Beatlemania on “I Want to Be Your Man” and “Good Night.” But don’t miss the hilariously majestic hidden track featuring the cranky but always-game crooner Mike James (last heard pondering the meaning of it all on One Child’s “Is That All There Is?”). By the end of the long and winding road through Palermo’s musical backpages there’s no doubt that his nostalgia is our delight, as vintage rock songs make for state-of-the-art jazz.

“Anything can be grist for the mill,” Palermo says. “Once I start an arrangement I get so into it. I’m going to put my spin on it.”

In many ways, Palermo’s career is a case study in getting the last laugh. Born in Ocean City, New Jersey on June 14, 1954, he grew up in the cultural orbit of Philadelphia, which was about an hour drive away. He started playing clarinet in elementary school, and soon turned to the alto saxophone. He also took up the guitar, and credits his teenage obsession with Zappa to opening his ears to post-bop harmonies and improvisation.

Palermo caught the jazz bug while attending DePaul University, and took to the alto sax with renewed diligence inspired by Phil Woods, Cannonball Adderley, and Edgar Winter (the subject of an upcoming EPBB project). Before he graduated he was leading his own band and making a good living as a studio player recording commercial jingles. But like so many jazz musicians he answered New York’s siren call, moving to Manhattan in 1977. After a year of playing jam sessions and scuffling, Palermo landed a coveted gig with Tito Puente, a four-year stint that immersed him in Afro-Cuban music.

An encounter with trumpeter Woody Shaw’s septet at the Village Vanguard in the late 1970s stoked his interest in writing and arranging for multiple horns, and by the end of the decade he had launched a nine-piece rehearsal band with five horns. Between Don Sebesky’s well-regarded book The Contemporary Arranger and advice from Dave Lalama and Tim Ouimette “I got a lot of my questions answered and I’ll love them forever,” Palermo says. “Then the real education was trial and error. I lived in a little apartment with no TV or furniture. All I had was a card table, and once a week I’d rehearse my nonet, then listen to the cassette of the rehearsal and make all the changes.”

Palermo made his recording debut in 1982, an impressive session featuring heavyweights such as David Sanborn, Edgar Winter and Randy Brecker. As a consummate studio cat and sideman, he toured and recorded with an array of stars, including Aretha Franklin, Eddie Palmieri, Celia Cruz, Lena Horne, Tony Bennett, Mel Tormé, Lou Rawls, Melba Moore, The Spinners, and many others. As an arranger, he’s written charts for the Tonight Show Band, Maurice Hines, Eddy Fischer, and Melissa Walker. Employed frequently by bass star Christian McBride for a disparate array of projects, Palermo has written arrangements for a James Brown concert at the Hollywood Bowl, a Frank Sinatra tribute featuring Kurt Elling, Seth McFarland, John Pizzarelli, and a 20-minute medley of Wayne Shorter tunes for the New Jersey Ballet

Palermo had been leading his big band for more than a decade before the Zappa concept started coming together. Inspired by electric guitar master Mike Keneally, who performed with Zappa on some of his final concerts before his death in 1993, Palermo decided to arrange a program of 12 Zappa tunes. When the time came to debut the material at one of the band’s regular gigs at the Bitter End in early 1994, a sold-out crowd greeted the band. “The Internet was just becoming powerful, and word really got around,” Palermo says. “We were used to playing for small audiences, and the place was packed. There were people who had driven down from Canada, and up from West Virginia who didn’t have a clue who I was, but they wanted to hear Zappa’s music. It was an amazing night.”

The Ed Palermo Big Band earned international attention with its 1997 debut The Ed Palermo Big Band Plays Frank Zappa on Astor Place Records. With Palermo’s brilliant arrangements and soloists such as Bob Mintzer, Chris Potter, Dave Samuels, Mike Stern, and Mike Keneally, the album made an undisputable case for the Zappa jazz concept. His first album of Zappa tunes on Cuneiform Records, called Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance, came out in 2006, followed in 2009 by Eddy Loves Frank. But while Palermo has written more than 300 Zappa charts, he’s anything but a one-trick pony. Recent releases like 2014’s Oh No! Not Jazz!! and 2016’s One Child Left Behind, both on Cuneiform, featured a bountiful selection of his original compositions and material by composers not named Frank Zappa.

Nothing demonstrates the ensemble’s ongoing vitality better than the stellar cast of players, with longtime collaborators such as violinist Katie Jacoby, baritone saxophonist Barbara Cifelli, drummer Ray Marchica, and keyboardist Ted Kooshian. Many of these top-shelf musicians have been in the band for more than a decade, and they bring wide ranging experience, expert musicianship and emotional intensity to Palermo’s music. From the first note, well, after the goat, the band manifests greatness in a truly Un-American cause.




April 1 USA
The Falcon [the music of The Beatles!]
1348 Route 9W
Marlboro, NY 12542

The Reunion Project - Varanda (TAPESTRY / CAPRI RECORDS 2017)

Five masters of Brazilian jazz bridge years and styles to form 
The Reunion Project

Lifelong friends Felipe Salles, Chico Pinheiro, Tiago Costa and Edu Ribeiro, along with rising star Bruno Migotto, offer a modern spin on their jazz and Brazilian music influences on Varanda

The bonds forged during our formative years can be some of the strongest and most enduring throughout the rest of our lives, no matter where our paths might take us. Saxophonist Felipe Salles, guitarist Chico Pinheiro, pianist Tiago Costa and drummer Edu Ribeiro came of age in São Paulo listening to a unique blend of jazz and Brazilian music that shaped each of them as they’ve embarked on notable but diverging careers in music. 20 years on, all four come together for the first time and, joined by young lion bassist Bruno Migotto, form The Reunion Project. The quintet’s debut, Varanda, reflects the eclectic roots and youthful camaraderie of its members, deepened and honed by the maturity gleaned from two-plus decades of study and experience.

On Varanda (due out February 17 on Capri Records), these five Brazilian virtuosos explore the far-reaching crossroads of modern jazz and Brazilian music through nine original compositions and the aptly-chosen standard “Yesterdays,” which, in Costa’s tropically lush arrangement, puts the group’s unique spin on a familiar tune while expressing the warm nostalgia of the group’s reunion.

“We all share a common background, have the same early influences and figured out who we wanted to be as musicians around the same time,” Salles says. “From sitting in a room in college listening to music together to so many years later having established ourselves in the field, it’s quite a nice thing to come back and reunite on the other side of the spectrum from where you started.”

Salles and Pinheiro share the longest relationship, dating back “to day care, pretty much,” according to the saxophonist. The two spent countless hours listening to fusion-era jazz giants like Weather Report, the Yellowjackets, and Pat Metheny, alongside Brazilian icons like Elis Regina, Milton Nascimento and Hermeto Pascoal. The frequent convergences of the time, like the Wayne Shorter/Milton Nascimento collaboration Native Dancer, were particularly thrilling to their ravenous young ears.

While Pinheiro pursued a short-lived (thankfully, given his now well-known musical gifts) interest in physics, Salles went on to study music at São Paulo’s University of Campinas (Unicamp), where he met both Costa and Ribeiro, forming a similarly music-focused friendship with the pianist and drummer. “The first actual gigs that I ever played were with those guys,” Salles recalls. “We’d get a gig at a nearby bar and we’d transcribe all our favorite hits from the current jazz bands of the time and try to play them. There was some pretty complex stuff happening at that time, and we were trying to learn from it.”

Salles left Brazil at age 22 to complete his studies at Boston’s New England Conservatory. Refocusing his attention from the subatomic to the sonic world, Pinheiro followed not long after, arriving in the same city to attend Berklee College of Music. Both established acclaimed careers in the States: Salles has played with the likes of Randy Brecker, David Liebman, Lionel Loueke and Sam Rivers in addition to his role as Associate Professor at of Jazz and African-American Music Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; Pinheiro has worked with Brad Mehldau, Bob Mintzer, Esperanza Spalding, Ivan Lins and Dori Caymmi, continuing to bridge his jazz and Brazilian influences.

Meanwhile, Costa and Ribeiro have become equally prominent on the Brazilian music scene. Costa has enjoyed a long tenure as pianist, arranger and producer for two-time Latin Grammy-winning vocalist Maria Rita as well as co-leading the ensemble Vento em Madeira and serving as arranger for Orquestra Jazz Sinfônica. Ribeiro has won a pair of Latin Grammys as a member of Trio Corrente with whom he’s recorded three albums, including a collaboration with saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera; he’s also worked with Mike Stern, Maria Schneider, Anthony Wilson and New York Voices, among others. Though younger than his bandmates, Migotto has played with most of the major names in Brazilian music, from Claudio Roditi to Wilson das Neves, as well as collaborating with Pinheiro and Costa, which Salles says made him the perfect fit for the project.

Despite the intervening years, miles and diversity of experiences, Salles says the group easily rediscovered their natural chemistry upon reuniting last year. “The interesting thing for me was that the essence of who they were is still the same, but the level of maturity and accomplishment is much greater. I wondered if we would feel the same familiarity as we did 20-something years ago, but when we’re playing it’s like they can know what I’m going to do before I’m going to do it. It has a lot to do with our musical choices, but it also has to do with knowing each other so well, the fact that we all speak Portuguese together, our demeanors and cadences of speech. There’s a depth in the way we know each other that’s unexplainable but that translates into the music.”

Each member of the band brought in new compositions for the session, all written with these particular players in mind. Costa and Pinheiro worked together on the title tune, a modern spin on the traditional Brazilian choro with a romantic classical twist that calls to mind Gershwin or Villa-Lobos. “We wanted to do music that would be rooted in Brazilian music, obviously, but where you can hear everybody’s different personality,” Salles explains. “I’ve always thought of Brazilian music as an evolving thing. I don’t like to be a purist. The idea was to use our Brazilian influences as the common core, but then everybody would bring their own personal style, thinking of this as a modern approach to Brazilian jazz.”

It’s obvious from listening to Varanda that these artists share a chemistry that goes beyond the purely musical. “You get together with your friends from childhood and you crack the same jokes, you still have that same level of comfort that you did as a kid,” Salles says of the reunion. “We were sitting in a van going from gig to gig and it as like I was back in high school with those guys. Then the subject would change and we’d be talking about our kids, which is such a crazy, deep thing. Shockingly, that depth translated to the music. “

The Mark Masters Ensemble - Blue Skylight (CAPRI RECORDS 2017)

Arranger/Bandleader Mark Masters Reimagines the Music of Iconic Jazz Composers Charles Mingus and Gerry Mulligan

Blue Skylight, out Feb. 17, features singular arrangements for the Mark Masters Ensemble, with veteran players Putter Smith, Gary Foster and Gene Cipriano

"Mark Masters is an accomplished arranger who comes up with hip, unusual ideas for jazz concerts and recordings." – Thomas Conrad, JazzTimes

"Masters is leading the charge as one of the great arrangers of our time.” – Brent Black, CriticalJazz

In many ways, Charles Mingus and Gerry Mulligan couldn’t have been more different. One was notoriously fiery and confrontational; the other understated, the epitome of cool. But one thing that these two jazz icons did share – beyond their influential shaping of the music’s low end – was their singularity of vision, a wholly unique perspective that in different ways redirected the trajectory of jazz through their own individual conceptions – with complete disregard for the naysayers.

With that in mind, both Mulligan and Mingus would no doubt approve of the reimaginings that Mark Masters has made of their compositions on Blue Skylight, out February 17 on Capri Records. The word “arrangements” doesn’t quite do justice to Masters’ approach; these eleven pieces are vivid acts of recomposition, each vividly rendered and finely tailored to fit the gifted and distinctive players of the Mark Masters Ensemble.

As trumpeter Tim Hagans (a gifted and inventive composer and arranger in his own right) puts it in his liner notes, “arranging is composing and if the arranger’s voice is highly personal and developed, the original composer fades in function against the arranger’s musical opinion.”

The particular pieces that Masters chose for Blue Skylight are not the obvious selections, the marquee compositions that have been rendered by band after band, year after year, in the decades since they were written. “I prefer the more obscure music,” Masters insists with a self-deprecating chuckle at his un-salesmanlike instincts. Regardless of how familiar a listener is with these composers’ catalogues, though, it’s not likely that Masters’ takes will ever sound well-worn or predictable. As Hagans points out, Masters is a true composer; his initial spark may be a pre-existing tune rather than a stroke of inspiration from the clear blue sky, but his palette is a pool of highly skilled, deeply expressive musicians from which he culls his namesake ensemble.

“It’s all about the players,” Masters says. “There are very few people who can be successful writing music without knowing who’s going to play it. The overriding factor for me is creating a framework for the players to be successful in.”

Blue Skylight was born of a pair of 2015 concerts performed by the ensemble in Palm Desert, California: a “Gerry Mulligan Songbook” evening and a program entitled “Blues by Mingus.” Both prominently featured a trio of undersung elder jazz statesmen that Masters wanted to feature and celebrate: bassist Putter Smith, who has played with such icons as Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey and Duke Ellington; tenor saxophonist Gene Cipriano, a studio veteran who worked with Henry Mancini, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Miles Davis and Gil Evans, and Frank Zappa, and provided the sound of Tony Curtis’ sax playing in Some Like It Hot; and alto saxophonist Gary Foster, who has played on countless TV and movie scores while playing in big bands led by Toshiko Akiyoshi and Lew Tabackin, Clare Fischer, and Louis Bellson.

“They're true veterans,” Masters says. “They’re some of my heroes.”

The seven-piece ensemble (slightly different for the Mingus and Mulligan selections) is filled out by some of the West Coast’s most in-demand musicians, most of whom have enjoyed long relationships with Masters. The longest-serving among them is saxophonist Jerry Pinter (Woody Herman, Stan Getz), who has been working with the bandleader for nearly three decades. Masters has high praise for each player, though, including baritone saxophonist Adam Schroeder, trumpeter Ron Stout, trombonist Les Benedict, pianist Ed Czach and drummer Kendall Kay.

Masters was intrigued by different facets of the two legendary composers’ music. To begin with, in order to make these pieces truly his own, he had to forego being too deferential or awed by their looming status in the jazz world. “There was no sense of staying true to Mulligan or Mingus or capturing the spirit of either one of them,” he says. “I don’t want that to sound egotistical, but I had to do what I was going to do regardless of who the composer was.”

In Mingus’ case, Masters was drawn to the master bassist’s unique harmonic structures. The album kicks off with the burly swing of “Monk, Bunk and Vice Versa,” from Mingus’ culminating masterwork Epitaph. Masters also chose the Dolphy epitaph “So Long Eric,” which opens with Smith’s emotive bass; “Peggy’s Blue Skylight,” which gives the album its title and fits the mysterious, elusive tone of the Edward Hopper painting on its cover; the tenderly aching ballad “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love,” highlighted by Pinter’s yearning tenor; and the dusk-lit “Eclipse,” featuring standout solos from Foster and Benedict.

The lesser-known Mulligan pieces include the swaggering “Out Back of the Barn,” featuring a bluesy, moaning turn from Cipriano; the delicate “Wallflower,” from which Czach wrings a particularly hushed and heartbreaking solo; “Strayhorn 2,” on which Schroeder gets to step into Mulligan’s shoes in a captivating duet with Czach; the percolating “Apple Core,” with Pinter and Foster going head to head; “Birds of a Feather,” a bop-fueled early tune penned for Gene Krupa; and finally the more familiar “Motel,” closing the album with another bravura run by Schroeder.

Long recognized as one of the great jazz arrangers of the last few decades, Mark Masters formed his first ensemble in 1982. He’s gone on to found the non-profit American Jazz Institute and has recorded tributes to Jimmy Knepper, Clifford Brown, Dewey Redman and other greats, leading ensembles featuring some of the music’s most revered performers, including Billy Harper, Tim Hagans, Gary Smulyan, Peter Erskine, Steve Kuhn, Ray Drummond, and Oliver Lake.

Keith Oxman - East of the Village (CAPRI RECORDS 2017)

Tenor Saxophonist Keith Oxman Leads a Burning Organ Trio from Denver to East of the Village

Oxman’s 9th release for Capri Records, out Feb. 17, features drummer Todd Reid and Hammond B3 player Jeff Jenkins on a set of little-known standards and newly-penned originals

" If anyone still needs convincing that outstanding jazz players live and work in places other than on the East and West Coasts, they should check out Denver-based Keith Oxman… an excellent improviser with a fine sound, agile technique and sure harmonic sense. He also exhibits a thorough knowledge of the hard bop language and can swing like crazy." – David Franklin, JazzTimes

"[Oxman’s] tone on the tenor breathes a warm, coaxing fire that he moulds into each composition with flair and imagination.”  Jerry D’Souza, AllAboutJazz

From just east of the Rockies comes East of the Village, a burning taste of East Coast hip straight from the heart of the Mountain West. Tenor saxophonist Keith Oxman and his Denver-based trio –organist Jeff Jenkins and drummer Todd Reid – offer a well-honed set of Mile-High swing on this set of less-familiar standards and infectious originals, out February 17 on Capri Records.

From just east of the Rockies comes East of the Village, a burning taste of East Coast hip straight from the heart of the Mountain West. Tenor saxophonist Keith Oxman and his Denver-based trio –organist Jeff Jenkins and drummer Todd Reid – offer a well-honed set of Mile-High swing on this set of less-familiar standards and infectious originals, out February 17 on Capri Records.

Oxman’s ninth recording for Capri, East of the Village (named, incidentally, for the soulful Hank Mobley tune included herein, not for any geographical reasons) reconfigures Oxman’s longtime quartet as a deeply grooving organ trio, with usual pianist Jenkins switching over to the Hammond B3 for the occasion. The trio found its smoldering sound during a two-month residency at Denver’s Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club, an intimate space with an art deco bar that harkens back to the Five Points neighborhood’s jazz-rich past, when it was known as the “Harlem of the West.”

As carefree and finger-snapping as this music may be, it wasn’t achieved without its share of struggle. The trio’s first attempt at recording was marred by equipment mishaps and had to be scrapped. When they reconvened last April, less than a month had passed since the passing of Oxman’s mother, which almost precipitated another cancellation.

“My father encouraged me to proceed with it,” Oxman recalls. “I was barely in a frame of mind to play, but something happened when we got together. Six out of ten of those tracks are first takes.”

It helps that the three members of Oxman’s trio (which he only grudgingly takes leadership of, preferring to think of it as a collaborative effort) share histories that stretch back more than a decade and a half. In his liner notes for the CD, Nocturne owner Scott Mattson cites “honesty” as the trio’s defining quality, which shines vividly through every note on the album’s ten tracks. Oxman passed over the obvious repertoire choices for the album, searching for deserving but rarely-played pieces like Jule Styne’s “Bye Bye Baby,” the breezy swinger that opens the album, sung by Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

“I did not want things that were typically played or recorded,” Oxman says. “That’s how we operate in the clubs. We’re always trying to find material that hasn’t been played to death.”

That includes album closer “(I’ve Got) Beginner’s Luck,” not one of George Gershwin’s better-known compositions though it was introduced by Fred Astaire in the 1937 film Shall We Dance, perhaps overshadowed by the fact that “They All Laughed,” “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” all appear in the same movie.

Even more obscure is “Breeze (Blow My Baby Back To Me),” a Vaudeville-era James Hanley piece that Oxman discovered when Clark Terry sang its praises in the documentary Keep On Keepin’ On. Taking Terry’s complaint that no one ever played the tune as a personal challenge, Oxman determined to play it despite the rarity of recordings. He eventually learned it from Jim Reeves’ country version of the song.

Oxman is at his breathiest on Jimmy Van Heusen’s solemn “Deep in a Dream,” with Reid’s whispering brushes and Jenkins’ weeping organ, while Leonard Bernstein’s “Lucky To Be Me” features the band at its most tender and winsome. Their strolling take on Fred Ahlert’s “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home” is probably the best known piece on the album.

The trio’s originals fit snugly in with these undersung classics. Reid’s pun-titled “A Vaunt Guard” is driven by a zig-zagging, percussive head and features Oxman blowing an angular solo over the drummer’s rollicking foundation. Jenkins’ “The Shorter Route” is an anthemic tribute to Wayne Shorter’s Blue Note years, while the leader’s “Brothers, Michel and Jean-Marc” is an homage to a pair of French saxophonists, each represented by an alternating theme. 

Keith Oxman’s burnished tenor sound is born of a love of classic players like Sonny Stitt and Charles McPherson, with both of whom he’s played, along with greats like Art Blakey, Buddy Rich, Jack McDuff, Phil Woods and Dave Brubeck. Having learned directly from these masters, Oxman passes that torch along to his students at Denver’s East High School.

A native of Nebraska City, Nebraska, Jeff Jenkins headed east to New York City in the 1980s, where he studied with Richie Beirach, Kenny Barron and Fred Hersch while playing in Broadway pit orchestras. Now teaching at the University of Colorado and Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts, Jenkins has worked with such notables as Phil Woods, Freddie Hubbard, David “Fathead” Newman, Bobby Hutcherson and John Abercrombie.

After studying at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, Todd Reid moved to New York City and worked with Gerry Mulligan, Dr. Billy Taylor, Jim McNeely, Bucky Pizzarelli and others. Upon moving to Denver in 1992 he played drums in the house band at the famed jazz and blues club El Chapultepec and performed or recorded with the likes of Jon Hendricks, Mose Allison, Richie Cole, Bob Dorough, Curtis Fuller, Eddie Harris, Red Holloway and more. He’s currently the Percussion Area Coordinator at the University of Colorado Denver.