Friday, February 24, 2017

The Beguiling Voice of Marilyn Scott on "Standard Blue"

The California based singer Marilyn Scott has one of those soft, sultry, beguiling voices that just sends me to another place. In many respects, she reminds me of Julie London with her controlled, simmering delivery that is not about vocal range or gymnastics, but more about heartfelt interpretation of a song’s sentiment. She has been singing since she was eleven years old and credits seeing  Big Mama Thorton play at Newport Beach when she was 15 years old as a life changing experience. It was the blues that spoke to this young woman and for over forty years she has been following that muse. Over the years, Ms. Scott’s voice has been heard backing up Tower of Power and John Mayhall’s Bluesbreakers.

She has been produced by such musical luminaries as Bob James, Bobby Womack and George Duke. Her musical collaborations with Russell Ferrante and Jimmy Haslip of the Yellowjackets has extended her blues roots and help shape a distinctive jazz sensibility to her vocals.

Her latest album is titled Standard Blue with the word standard spelled in reverse mirror image just to let you know there is nothing standard about her treatment of these songs. The band is made up of a superb rhythm section with Russell Ferrante on keyboards, Jimmy Haslip on electric bass, Michael Landau on electric guitar and Gary Novak on drums.  Saxophonist Bob Mintzer and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire are also featured on one song, the Kurt Weil/Ogden Nash classic “Speak Low.”  The song list is made up predominantly of songs that were written between 1932-1956, songs that speak to Ms. Scott and “…have in common the reality of the blues.”

Ms.  Scott opens the music with the well-worn “Willow Weep for Me,” but one would be hard pressed to find another version quite as compelling. Mr. Ferrante’s floating arrangement is cloud-like, Ms. Scott’s voice like a siren’s call of sensual loss and pathos. Meanwhile powerhouse drummer Novak is the model of restraint as Landau’s guitar sings with echoed poignancy. Beautiful.
The more orchestrated “Speak Low” features Haslip’s pulsing bass and the bass clarinet and trumpet of Bob Mintzer and Ambrose Akinmusire respectively. The Mintzer arranged intro is unique, running counterpoint to the song’s melody line. Scott navigates the unusually tricky mix with an assured confidence, never losing the song’s core feel. Ferrante adds a short piano solo before Mintzer counters with his own woody, bass clarinet solo.  Landau’s tasty guitar licks are never far from the mix.

Scott and company obviously have a thing for Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington as she has included three songs by the songwriters, “A Flower is A Lovesome Thing,” Day Dream” and “I’ve Got It Bad and That A’int Good.” On Stray’s lamenting “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” Landau’s guitar cries out on a beautifully realized solo of sublime sensitivity. Scott’s voice has those rarest of qualities, true of all great storytellers, earnestness.  

“Never Let Me Go” is played in a buoyant shuffle by Novak and Haslip with Ferrante’s keyboards painting a dreamy soundscape over which Scott’s voice pleads.

“Day Dream” is one of my favorites on the album. Ms.  Scott’s slow, smoky delivery draws you in like a bee to a fragrant blossom. Mr. Ferrante’s arrangements are lush with electronic orchestration. Mr. Landau’s guitar weeps with emotion.

“Blue Prelude” is a Gordon Jenkins song that is right in Ms. Scott’s blues wheelhouse. Her understated delivery has a cool, Michael Frank’s-like removed feel that works into the changes of the song with a laid-back assuredness. At the apex of the song she decides to assert herself, stabbing at the lyrics with authority, matching her voice pointedly with Novak’s synchronous drums. This one is a keeper.

Unfortunately, the album tails off starting with “I Wouldn’t Change It,” which is the only Scott/Ferrante composition on the album. Ms. Scott sings this in a more pop adult contemporary vein losing some of her blues bite-not my cup of tea. The set ends with a disco-esque “East of the Sun,” a lumpy “I’ve Got it Bad And That A’int Good” and a pseudo honky-tonk “The Joint is Jumpin’.” 

Ms. Scott’s Standard Blue, backed by an all-star band, offers some compelling renditions of blues-based, jazz standards sung by a unique songstress that knows how to bring new life to old stalwarts.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Noah Preminger's " Meditations on Freedom"

Noah Preminger's Meditations on Freedom Dry Bridge Records 005
From the opening plaintive notes of the first track of his new album Meditations on Freedom- Bob Dylan’s “Only a Pawn in Their Game”- tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger sets the stage for an entire album of social commentary. At the same time, Preminger is reminding us-do not despair, we have been here before. Dedicated to the spirit of vigilance, peaceful dissention and hope, Preminger found his disappointment in the direction of his country’s politics as an igniting force in his own creative spirit. He recorded this suite of songs on December 17th, just forty-three days after the election, in a rush to declare his musical thoughts on the concept of freedom and what it has meant and continues to mean to an artist.

The songs are carefully chosen for their thematic consistency, with “Only a Pawn in Their Game” containing the darkest indictment of societal dysfunction. Dylan’s controversial conspiratorial call out of the systematic brainwashing of poor whites toward Blacks, resulting in the murder of Medgar Evers. The two horns of Preminger on tenor and Jason Palmer on trumpet cry out, almost in a somber dirge to the fallen Civil rights leader. When bassist Kim Cass and drummer Ian Froman enter the song, it is to lend a loosely swaying backdrop over which Preminger and then Palmer explore their own personal sentiments that the music inspires.

Bruce Hornsby’s “Just the Way It Is,” explored and condemned the moral courage of those who decided that racial injustice was something that “Just is the way it is,” and accepted the idea that “some things will never change.” Preminger and Palmer join in a unison statement of the melody before the saxophonist detours to what seems like a free exchange of ideas, stated first by Preminger and responded to in kind by drummer Froman. Then Palmer takes his with an equally liberated cross conversation, this time with bassist Cass, with Froman also contributing to the mix. The entire group reprises the melody at the coda.

The Sam Cooke classic “A Change is Gonna Come” maybe the most moving song on the album. The slow, deliberately soulful rendering finds Preminger’s tenor at its most inspirational, as Cass’s bass walks the line. With a beautiful tone on his tenor, Preminger moves along the changes with a deep sense of purpose. Palmer’s trumpet solo is equally as emotional with his prudent use of slurs and his succinct use of the mid register of his horn.

The remaining six tracks are all Preminger original compositions, with the exception of the hopeful George Harrison tune “Give Me Love,” which the group performs to an almost Caribbean Cha cha tempo. As the thirty-year old composer states his objective when composing instrumental music “is to heighten emotions.”  With titles like “We Have a Dream.” “Mother Earth,” “Women’s March,” “The 99 Percent” and “Broken Treaties” we can see the man has very specific ideas that he wants to portray with his music. The group works together like a unified whole. On “We Have a Dream,” Cass’s nimble bass opening, Palmer’s restrained high register trumpet as juxta posed against Preminger’s rich, Rollin-esque tenor make for some beautiful ensemble music.  On “Mother Earth” we again open with a Cass bass intro that leads to the front line of Palmer and Preminger playing off each other harmonically on a theme. It’s the deliberate tones that strike you here. The two horns each finding their own way within the structure of the tune. Preminger’s solo is an exploratory reach, but a calm, measured approach. Froman gets an opportunity to lay down some interesting fills over Cass’s ostinato bass line before Palmer enters exploring the possibilities of his trumpet with exquisite control and a total lack of bombast. “Women’s March” brings attention to an important, spontaneous development in modern day organized protest. Appropriately Preminger’s saxophone solos is frenetic and excitable, as I’m sure the organizers of the March were. Palmer’s trumpet solo is more organized in its approach using some repeated linearity.  The message; spontaneity can lead to fruitful action, hopefully this movement will be able to build upon its first surprising success. “The 99 Percent” is a reference to the majority of the electorate, those who have not participated in the upwardly mobile prospects of the one percenters. The two horns state a mournful opening that to my ears is filled with despair and longing. As a working musician, Preminger knows all too well the vagaries of the changing economic climate as it relates to job compression, technological dislocation and the devaluation of intellectual property (like the work of artists, musicians and writers).  Hopefully awareness will lead to improvement in the prospects for all.

The final track is titled “Broken Treaties.”  With the Dakota Pipeline in the news, and its threat to Indian water supplies, the music is a reminder of the many failings we have allowed to happen, often under the guise of economic profit and job creation. The musicians have a dialogue that often seem like two parties speaking in two different languages, only coming together at the hopeful ending when their voices are more in harmony.

I realize that my take on this music is only one man’s opinion and perhaps the artist had something completely different in mind when he went into the studio. It really doesn’t matter. If we are inspired by the music to recognize its relevant and timely topics, then Meditations on Freedom has artully heightened our emotions and stirred our imaginations and Noah Preminger should be applauded for his earnest effort.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Pianist Gianni Bianchini 's Trio: Type I

Gianni Bianchini Type I
The Florida based pianist/educator/organist  Gianni Bianchini has a new album to be released on Feb 21, 2017 titled Type I. The title is reference to his recording debut and the fact that he fights with Type I diabetes which has been an influence on his life and so also his music. Perhaps his condition has given the gifted pianist a sense of urgency and if so that urgency has colored his music.

On this album, Dr. Bianchini, who is also a professor of jazz piano at Universidade de San Francisco de Quito Ecuador, is joined by bandmates Brandon Guerra on drums, Richard Mikel on bass. The liner notes indicate Jason Marsalis plays percussion, although to my ears one would be hard pressed to know exactly where he plays.

Bianchini has a deft touch and a joyful delivery that can be downright alluring.  His trio runs through American songbook standards like Rogers and Harts’ “My Romance” and “My Heart Stood Still,” Julie Styne and Sammy Cahn’s “Time After Time”, George and Ira Gershwin’s “A Foggy Day,” Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer’s “I’m Old Fashioned,” and others that are played with a sense of authentic respect, pristine clarity and astute modernism. The man can certainly swing on a melody with creative arrangements and a sense of time that is quite impressive. Check out his version of “Softly as In a Morning Sunrise.”  The band is tight and stirs up an impressive froth.

Bianchini’s playing is brimming with a vibrancy and attitude that is infectious. Bassist Mikel and drummer Guerra know how to dig deep and keep the music grooving. If there is one downside it is Bianchini’s vocals. They leave a little to be desired. Though he sings adequately and with the same upbeat swagger of his piano, his voice just isn’t nearly as musical or his delivery that compelling. The trio is much better served by the vocal talent of Karen Tennison who guests on “I Wish I Knew.”  Ms. Tennisson sings with a breezy ease, with words that float and scats that have a refined coolness. Mr. Bianchini’s piano work on this one is very impressive.

Mr. Bianchini takes on Bill Evan’s bouncy “Peri’s Scope,” a challenging piece for any pianist, which he and bandmates pull off with marvelous aplomb. Mikel’s buoyant bass and Guerra ‘s brush work are of special note. The cd ends with a Henry Mancini poignant composition “Two For the Road” with Mikel offering an arco bass opening.

Type I is by and large a successful debut by a fine pianist and a sympathetic rhythm section who know their history and mine the Songbook’s possibility with vim, vigor and a sense of modernism. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Charlie Hunter's Trio at Red Light Cafe Atlanta, GA

Carter McClean,  Charlie Hunter and Rob Dixon
Last night, February 8, 2017, the guitar virtuoso Charlie Hunter and his trio brought his own style of blues, jazz, funk, ragtime and just plain fun music to the stage of Atlanta’s Red Light Café.  Located midway between Ansley Park, Midtown and Virginia Highlands, this unassuming, relaxed, crunchy little venue that seats about seventy was filled to capacity for this show.  It was good to see so many young faces in the audience and it was especially good to see a crossover artist of Hunter’s talent being warmly embraced by an Atlanta audience.

Hunter was born in Rhode Island and lived through high school in California where he took lessons from the great guitarist Joe Satriani. He moved to Paris when he was 18 where he is said to have learned the ropes of being a working musician. After returning to the States and performing in several groups as a sideman, he released his debut album the Charlie Hunter Trio in 1993 with Dave Ellis on tenor sax, Jay Lane on drums and Charlie playing a seven-string guitar. Hunter’s seven string guitar technique utilizes the top three strings as a bass guitar and the lower four strings as a standard guitar. He has developed a mind-blowing technique that allows him to play complex bass lines while alternately finger-picking melody and improvised solo lines and strumming rhythmic chording almost simultaneously. The guitarist had for a time experimented with a custom eight string guitar, but he has returned to a custom modified seven string guitar that suits his present multi-faceted style.

Hunter’s Let the Bells Ring On was one of my best of jazz 2015 picks in the Huffington Post and combined Hunter’s blues/funk/Americana approach with the trombone of Curtis Fowlkes and the drums of Bobby Previte. His latest album is amusingly titled Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth was released in 2016.

On this evening, Hunter was joined by the tenor saxophonist Rob Dixon and the drummer Carter
Mc Clean. Dixon has roots from Atlanta and went to Indiana University where he studied with David Baker. His resume included stints with bassist Rufus Reid, guitarist Fareed Haque and as a co-leader in a group with Wes Montgomery organist Melvin Rhyne.  McClean has worked with vibraphonist Roy Ayers, funk master Bernie Worrel-of Parliament Funkadelic fame- and Fred Wesley, a James Brown alumnus.  He also was the pit drummer for the Broadway show The Lion King.

The group had a telepathic connection as they ran through two sets of head-bopping music. They started the first set with Charlie’s “These People” from his album Let the Bells Ring On, with Dixon’s tenor taking up the part played on the album by Fowlkes bellowing trombone. Dixon had a deep, smoothly burnished tone that at times reminded me of Stanley Turrentine. Hunter for his part just amazed the audience with his dexterity and unfailing musicianship. He laid down some bass lines that for bass players would be impressive enough, but then he added a filigree of finger picked melodies on top of it all.  His technique is a descendant of the pioneering work of the great guitarist Joe Pass, an obvious influence, who would also play both bass and melody coincidentally. But whereas Pass limited his accompaniment to walking bass lines -admittedly on a six-string guitar- and impressive chordal comp work, Hunter has extended the complexity of his bass lines and incorporated a delicate finger picking approach unlike Pass’ pick and finger driven style. Hunter also incorporates some rhythmic strumming that has a flamenco feel to it and occasionally uses a delicate touch to produce harmonic overtones similar to virtuoso Lenny Breau.

Charlie Hunter
On this evening, the trio stuck to a mostly blues or blues/funk format that was expertly executed and grabbed the crowd with its accessibility, authenticity and emotional appeal. Hunter’s facility on his guitar at extracting the rawness emblematic of the old blues masters was palpable and audience approved. The trio ventured into the fusion-esque “Pho-Kus-On-Ho-Hokus” from the Let the Bells Ring On album and interplay between Dixon and Hunter was tight and crisp. Hunter and company often brought the song to an extreme tempest only to break abruptly into a calm oasis of sensitivity. A version of Terrence Trent D’Arby’ s funky “Wishing Well” was a crowd pleaser with McClean using a steel plate, xylophone-like apparatus on top of his tom to create an interesting effect. Hunter, who has a penchant for using period Americana pieces, then played a solo version of a classic Ink Spots 1941 tune “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire.” His sensitivity with this loping waltz was a high-light as he mouthed a few verses to his own sensitive accompaniment.

After a brief intermission, the band returned for a second set which started out featuring Dixon on a fiery saxophone solo, this time sounding a little like Lenny Pickett. Another nasty blues followed before Hunter went away from his blues-centric playbook and spontaneously started to play a Caribbean riff that had the band grooving in a mode reminiscent of Sonny Rollins “St.  Thomas.” The set was climaxed by a funky version of Hall and Oates “I Can’t Go for That” which had the whole audience grooving to the catchy song and which Hunter made into his own vehicle of expression.

For those who attended this show there was no lack of excitement and it was good to see the Red Light Café able to successfully bring in this kind of top quality entertainment into a neighborhood Atlanta area haunt. Let's hope this is the strat of a trend.

Here is the Charlie Hunter Trio from a live performance in NYC on December 30, 2016 with Carter McClean on drums and Curtis Fowlkes on trombone.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Twenty-Five Great Jazz Soprano Saxophone Performances

The soprano Saxophone has been the stepchild to its large brothers, the Alto and Tenor saxophones in jazz music. Despite a lineage that dates to the early twenties, the soprano was not widely used as a solo instrument in many early jazz recordings, with most soloists preferring the clarinet for its warmer, richer sound. The soprano is typically found as a straight barreled instrument although small curved horns that look like baby alto saxophones with a straighter crook are also in use. The saxophone was invented by Adolphe Sax in 1846. Modern soprano instruments have a range of between Ab3 to E6 pitched one octave higher than the tenor, but some skilled players can play in the altissimo register allowing them to play even higher.

Sidney Bechet photo credit unknown

It has been said that the great Sidney Bechet, a New Orleans born classically trained musician, discovered a quality soprano saxophone while on tour in England with Marion Cook’s Southern Syncopated Orchestra, sometime around 1920. Bechet, who was a world class clarinetist, wanted a solo instrument that could better stand up to the louder brass cornets and trombones of the era. In the soprano, he found that the bright, piercing sound of the instrument had the strong, clear voice he was looking for and people started to notice.  Bechet is considered by many to be the father of the soprano saxophone in jazz. While certainly the most celebrated player of his era, he was not the only practitioner of this quirky horn back in the twenties. The first record that I found featuring Bechet on a serpentine soprano solo was from Clarence Williams Blue Five recording of “Wild Cat Blues” recorded on July 23, 1923 in NYC. Boyd Atkins was famously heard several years later playing a momentous soprano saxophone solo while with Louis Armstrong and his Stompers on “Chicago Breakdown” from 1927.  Duke Ellington would sometimes use multi- reed players Johnny Hodges and Otto Hardwick to play soprano as a section instrument in his orchestra, but on occasion the soprano was featured as a solo instrument as with Johnny Hodges beautiful work on “Harmony in Harlem” from 1937. 
Lucky Thompson photo credit unknown

By the nineteen forties the premier practitioner of the soprano was the inimitable multi-reedist Lucky Thompson. You can hear some of his brilliant work while he was in Paris back in October 1960 on a session where he recorded the sensuous “Lover Man.” Thompson became disenchanted with the music business in the United States and moved to Paris from 1957-1962. It was after all Paris that had so thoroughly embraced Sidney Bechet in the early twenties both because of his musicianship and because Bechet’s Creole heritage had ties to the French language and to French colonialism in hometown of New Orleans. It was here that Thompson, though predominantly known as a tenor player, became more interested in the soprano and would continue to pioneer its use in more modern jazz. You can hear the man’s brilliant command of this difficult instrument on such tunes as Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Way” from his 1964 album Lucky Strikes.

By the late fifties and into the sixties another young saxophonist was starting to go his own way on the instrument, abandoning his Dixieland roots and focusing exclusively on the high register horn with a more modern approach.  Saxophonist Steven Norman Lackritz aka Steve Lacy is perhaps best known as the soprano’s modern-day Sidney Bechet. His debut album was aptly titled Soprano Sax and was recorded in 1957.  After playing with Thelonious Monk he became enamored with the quirky pianist’s compositions and rarely performed or recorded without including at least one Monk tune in his repertoire. Lacy also adventured into the avant-garde and the experimental music scene. His work and the work of saxophonist John Coltrane on the soprano would influence legions of players that followed.
Steve Lacy photo credit unknown

Reportedly Miles Davis purchased a soprano for his saxophonist at the time John Coltrane, while the group was on tour in Europe in March of 1960.  Coltrane started progressively using the straight horn and  he soon after broke from Davis to form his own group with McCoy Tyner on piano, Steve Davis on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. At that time only Steve Lacy was actively utilizing the instrument in jazz.  The instrument had little reach outside its limited use in the world of jazz until saxophonist John Coltrane made his ground-breaking album My Favorite Things using his soprano. The adventurous Coltrane made the soprano soar on this modal exploration of a Rogers & Hammerstein song from the Broadway show The Sound of Music. The song was transformed into a hypnotically driven, raga inspired chant whose melody was immediately familiar despite its wildly exploratory improvisational forays over a repeated vamp.  It became an instant hit and a vital bridge to an expanding non-jazz audience. It also opened the doors for many future players to explore the transcendental, eastern inspired sound of this unique instrument. The multi-instrumentalist ( not yet Rahsaan)  Roland Kirk played a manzello quite proficiently. The manzello is a King saxello soprano saxophone with an extended bell. Kirk made his statement on the instrument in the late sixties with his “A Handful of Fives.”

Since Coltrane, world and jazz music has seen a proliferation of players who have taken the instrument down new and unexpected paths. When fusion came on the scene in the early seventies, mixing the bombast of rock with the improvisational bravado of jazz, the soprano found its way into the music. Saxophonist’s like Pharaoh Sanders, a Coltrane disciple, took the music into a spiritual mode allowing us all to “Astral Travel” with or without the aid of hallucinogens from his 1971 album Thembi.  

Multi-reed players who mostly played tenor would occasionally feature their soprano skills throughout their careers. Notable players like Zoot Sims, who came to the soprano relatively late in his career, did a beautiful version of “Moonlight in Vermont” from his 1976 album Soprano Sax. The masterful Jerome Richardson was no stranger to the soprano and his work can be heard from the early fifties into the late nineties on such big bands as the Mingus Big Band and Oliver Nelson’s Big Band. His work is represented here as a featured solist in the  Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra on the song “The Waltz You Swang for Me” from the 1968 live at the Village Vanguard recording.  At the same time Bechet devotees like Bob Wiber and Kenny Davern would keep the Dixieland spirit of the old master alive, although admittedly modernized, with songs like “Song of Songs” a dueling soprano performance from 1977.

No list of soprano masters would be complete without the extraordinary work of the great Wayne Shorter. His legionnaire work with his band Weather Report and on his own solo efforts are trailblazingly beautiful. Perhaps one of his most memorable performances for me was “Beauty and the Beast” from his seminal album Native Son from 1974.

Other notable soprano players included Dave Liebman, Joe Farrell, Gerry Niewood, Joshua Redman, John Lurie, Jane Ira Bloom, Jane Bunnett, Jan Gabarek, John Surman, Klaus Doldinger, Kenny Garrett, Steve Wilson, Sonny Fortune, Dick Oatts, Billy Drewes, Bill Kirchner, Bob Sheppard, Chris Cheek, Chris Potter, James Carter, Jeff Coffin and Paul Mc Candless. The saxophonist Branford Marsalis has become a superb player on the soprano and has distinguished himself from a fine field of newer players. The avant-garde modernist Evan Parker has carved himself his own place with a sound like no other. The inimitable Sam Newsome is in a class by himself having taken the instrument into new areas of sonic experimentation and texture.

In the field of popular crossover, soprano saxophonists that come to mind are Grover Washington Jr, Bob Mintzer of the Yellowjackets, and Jay Bechinstein of Spyro Gyra, and in  the smooth jazz arena there is Dave Koz, Najee and of course Kenny G to name a few. Amazingly it is Kenny G's soprano saxophone on "Going Home" that has probably been the most played song on the instrument in its history! It is often used in China, even twenty-five years after it was recorded, to signal to shoppers that it is closing time and indeed time to go home.

I could not have assembled such a well studied list without the generous help of saxophonist, arranger and educator Bill Kirchner, multi-reedist Scott Robinson, and saxophonists Michael Blake and Dave Anderson. To them I offer my sincerest thanks. With the above brief history, and acknowledging in advance to having undoubtedly left off some important players whom I may not be aware of, here are my picks for twenty-five great jazz soprano saxophone performances in roughly chronological order:

Sidney Bechet “Wild Cat Blues” from Clarence Williams Blue Five; Sidney Bechet, sop sax; Clarence Williams, piano; Thomas Morris, cornet; John Mayfield, trombone; Buddy Christian, banjo.  Recorded in NYC  1923

Boyd Atkins: “Chicago Breakdown” from Louis Armstrong and His Stompers with Louis Armstrong, trumpet; Boyd Atkins, sop sax; Frank Walker, baritone sax; Rip Bassett, banjo/guitar; Earl Hines, piano; Albert Washington, tenor sax; Honore Dutry, trombone; Bill Wilson, cornet; Tubby Hall drums. Recorded in Chicago, Illinois 1927

Johnny Hodges: “Harlem in Harmony” with the Duke Ellington Orchestra recorded in September 20,  1937  in NYC with Johnny Hodges , sop sax;  Duke Ellington, piano; Rex Stewart, cornet; Cootie Williams, Arthur Whetsel, Freddie Jenkins, trumpets; Joe Nanton, Lawrence Brown, trombones; Juan Tizol valve trombone; Barney Bigard, clarinet; Otto Hardwick, alto and clarinet; Harry Carney, baritone sax; Freddy Guy, guitar; Billy Taylor, bass,  Sonny Greer, drums.

Steve Lacy : “Day Dream”  from the album Soprano Sax recorded November 1, 1957  at Van Gelder studios in Hackensack , NJ with Wynton Kelly, piano; Buell Neidinger, bass; Dennis Charles, drums.

Lucky Thompson: “In A Sentimental Mood” from his album Lucky Strikes recorded September 15, 1964 at Van Gelder Studios in Hackensack, NJ  with Lucky Thompson, sop sax; Hank Jones, piano; Richard Davis, piano; Connie Kay , drums.

John Coltrane: “My Favorite Things” for his album My Favorite Things recorded October 21,24 and 26th 1960 with John Coltrane, sop sax; McCoy Tyner, piano; Steve Davis, bass; Elvin Jones, drums.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: “Handful of Fives” from his album The Inflated Tear recorded November 27-31, 1967 with Roland Kirk, manzello; Ron Burton, piano; Steve Novosel, bass; Jimmy Hopps, drums; Dick Griffin, trombone.

Jerome Richardson: “The Waltz You Swang for Me” from his work on the album Monday Night Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra live at the Village Vanguard album from October 1968 recorded at the Village Vanguard in NYC with Jerome Richardson, sop sax; Richard Davis , bass; Thad Jones, flugelhorn; Mel Lewis, drums, Roland Hanna, piano; Jerry Dodgian, alto sax; Seldon Powell, tenor sax; Eddie Daniels, tenor sax; Pepper Adams, baritone sax; Richard Williams, SnookyYoung, Danny Moore, Jimmy Nottingham, trumpets; Jimmy Knepper, Garnet Brown, Jimmy Cleveland, Cliff Heather, trombones.

Pharaoh Sanders: “Astral Traveling” from his album Thembi recorded November 1970 and January 1971 in California with Pharoah Sanders sop sax; Lonnie Liston Smith, Fender Rhodes; Michael White, violin; Cecil McBee, bass; Clifford Jarvis, drums.

Dave Liebman, Joe Farrell and Steve Grossman: “Brite Piece” from Elvin Jones Merry Go Round recorded Feb 12, and December 16, 1971 at Van Gelder Studios, Engelwood Cliffs, NJ with
Dave Liebman, Joe Farrell and Steve Grossman, sop saxes; Elvin Jones, drums, Gene Perla, bass; Jan Hammer, electric piano; Don Alias, oriental bells.

Here is a live performance of the group in France in 1972 unfortunately without the great Joe Farrell or Don Alias, and with Steve Grossman on tenor.

Joe Farrell: “La Fiesta” from Chick Corea’s Return to Forever recorded February 2nd & 3rd, 1972 in London with Joe Farrell, sop sax; Chick Corea, electric piano; Stanley Clarke, bass;  Airto Moreira, drums and percussion; Flora Purim , vocals and percussion;  “La Fiesta” starting at 38:00 minute mark

Grover Washington Jr.: “Invitation” from a live broadcast on WBCN in Boston, Mass in Spring of 1973 with Grover Washington Jr., sop sax; Bill Meek, Fender Rhodes; Charles Fambrough, bass; Daryl Brown, drums.

Wayne Shorter: ”Beauty and the Beast” from his album Native Dancer recorded in 1974  with Wayne Shorter, sop sax; Milton Nascimento, vocals; David Amaro, guitar; Jay Graydon, bass; Herbie Hancock, piano and keyboards; Wagner Tiso, organ; Dave McDaniel, bass; Roberto Silva, drums; Airto Moreira, percussion.

Zoot Sims: “Moonlight in Vermont” from his album Zoot Sims- Soprano Sax recorded January 8th and 9th 1976 at RCA Studios NYC with Ray Bryant, piano; George Mraz, bass; Grady Tate, drums.

Bob Wilber and Kenny Davern: “Song of Songs” from a live performance in October 1977 with Bob Wilber curved bell sop sax; Kenny Davern, straight sop sax; Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar; Geroge Duvivier, bass; Bobby Rosengarten, drums.

Gerry Niewood: “Joy” from his album Gerry Niewood and Timepiece from 1976 with Gerry Niewood, sop sax; Dave Samuels, electric vibes; Rick Laird, bass; Ron Davis, drums.

Klaus Doldinger: “Ataraxia Part 1 & 2” from the album by his group Passport Ataraxia recorded in Germany 1978 with Klaus Doldinger sop sax and keyboards; Dieter Petereit, bass; Willie Ketzer, drums;  Roy Louis, guitars; Hendrik Schaper, keyboards; Elmer Louis, percussion.

Dick Oatts: “Ding Dong Ding” from the Mel Lewis and the Jazz Orchestra with Bob Brookmeyer recorded live at the Village Vanguard 1980 with Dick Oatts sop sax; Jim McNeely, piano; Rufus Reid, Bass; Mel Lewis, drums; Bob Mintzer, Steve Coleman, Gary Pribeck, Richard Perry, reeds; Bob Brookmeyer, trombone and arranger; Earl McIntyre, John Mosca, Lee Robertson, Lolly Bienenfeld, trombones; Earl Gardner, Larry MosesRon Tooley, trumpets; Stepahnie Fauber, French horn.

Jane Ira Bloom: “The Man with the Glasses” from her album Mighty Lights recorded at Vanguard Studios in NYC  November 17 and 18, 1982 with Jane Ira Bloom, sop sax; Charlie Haden, bass; Fred Hersch, piano; Ed Blackwell, drums.

Chris Cheek: “Ice Fall” from his album Vine recorded 1999 with Chris Cheek , sop sax; Brad Mehldau, electric piano, Kurt Rosenwinkel, guitar; Matt Penman, bass; Jorge Rossy, drums.

Sam Newsome: “Toy Tune” from the Orrin Evans Album Grown Folk Bizness  released in Oct 1999 with Sam Newsome, sop sax; Orrin Evans, piano; Rodney Witaker, bass; Ralph Peterson, drums.

Branford Marsalis: “The Ruby and the Pearl” from his album Eternal  recorded October 7-10th, 2003 with Branford Marsalis, sop sax; Joey Calderazzo, piano, Eric Revis Bass, Jeff “Tain” Watts,  drums.

Paul McCandless: “May or Mai” live in concert with Antonio Calogero in Messina, Italy on November 28, 2007 with Paul McCandless, sop sax; Antonio Calogero, classical guitar.

Kenny Garrett: “Detroit” from Seeds from the Underground released April 2012 with Kenny Garrett, sop sax;  Benito Gonzales, piano; Nat Reeves, bass, Rudy Bird Percussion; Ronald Bruner drums;  Nedelka Prescod, vocal.

Jan Gabarek: live at Mai Jazz Festival in Stvanger Cocnert in Norway,  2013  with Jan Gabarek, sop sax; Rainer Brǘninghaus, keyboards; Trilok Gurtu, drums; Youri Daniel , bass.

You may also like to check out my Twenty-Five Great Jazz Baritone Performances
by clicking here. Or if your into jazz flute my Twenty-Five Great Jazz Flute Perfromances by clicking here.