All Original compositions featuring:
Mark Shim-Tenor Saxophone
Godwin Louis-Alto Saxophone
All Original compositions featuring:
Mark Shim-Tenor Saxophone
Godwin Louis-Alto Saxophone
I know it’s been a looong time since I’ve blogged, but all is well on this end and I hope it’s the same with you. I’ve been really busy working, which I’m forever grateful for. I wanted to let you know that I’ve been nominated in the Boston Phoenix Music poll and you can vote for me here!! You can vote once a day from what I understand, so if you feel inclined to do so, please do!! I would really appreciate all of your support!! In the meantime you can keep up with the latest news with me on my site.
All the best to all of you!!
One of my professors in college just told me a funny story about meeting Miles on several occasions.
The first time he met Miles was in Detroit at a club called the Minor Key. He was about 15 at the time and was already playing saxophone. He went to a matinee show and afterwards he saw Miles standing alone and decided to approach him and ask for his autograph. He didn’t have a program or a record for him to sign with him so he reached in his pocket to see what he had. He pulled out his musician’s union card.
So he approaches Miles, introduces himself, and tells Miles that he plays saxophone. He then asked if Miles would sign his union card. Miles took the union card out of his hand, takes a look at it, ripped it in half, and gave it back to him.
Decades later, my professor was in Boston playing with a big band. The leader of the band happened to be good friends with Miles. Miles’ band was also in town and the big band had a night off during one of Miles’ performances. So the bandleader asked my professor is he would like to go and meet Miles. Trying to put the past behind him, he agreed.
So they arrive backstage at Miles’ show and Miles is sitting down on a huge black beanbag and the room is fairly full of people. The bandleader goes up to Miles, greets him, and then introduced Miles to my professor. By this time it’s pretty quiet in the room and all the attention is focused on the three of them.
Professor goes on to tell Miles the details about the first time they actually met back in Detroit at the Minor Key. To that, Miles responded, “I wouldn’t do no shit like that!!”
Back on a September night in Boston at Wally’s Café, I was playing with the band and in walks in a familiar-looking older gentleman wearing some dark shades and a Miles Davis tee shirt. He also had what looked like a trumpet case in his hand, ready to play! As it turns out I had met him in October of 2010 in Wilmington, Delaware at a Clifford Brown Tribute concert that we were both billed on. So I got off of the bandstand and reintroduced myself and invited him to the bandstand. His name was Dr. Richard Williams. We played a few tunes then we went on break.
During the break, Richard began telling me about his life in music. He was a classmate of Clifford Brown in Delaware. Clifford was a few grades ahead of him and during Clifford’s graduation he played an excerpt from the Carnival of Venice. Hearing this inspired Richard to become a better trumpeter and do the same thing at his graduation.
Richard later went on to study at Harvard University’s Medical School. Richard told me that for one of his projects at Harvard he decided to interview Clifford Brown. He went meet Clifford for the interview on an evening in late June of 1956. He said that the interview was a couple of hours and Clifford had to cut it short because it was getting late and he had a long drive ahead of him. That was the last time Richard saw Brownie alive because he, along with Beverly and Richie Powell passed away in a car accident.
Richard decided to join the music fraternity when he started at Harvard and one of his initiations was to go to see Miles at his performance in Boston and convince him to come to Harvard with his band for a concert.
Richard was familiar with Miles music and the players that were in his band at the time. At the concert in Boston Richard noticed that Miles had a new saxophonist in his band. Richard was taken aback by the style of this saxophone player and decided to go and introduce himself to Miles and ask him about his new saxophonist. So he approached Miles and asked him about this saxophonist (who turned out to be Trane, btw) and Miles replied, saying something to the degree of, “Why don’t you go and sit down and listen, you’ll probably learn something.” So Richard did for the rest of the concert and decided to go up to Miles at the end of the concert and talk to him about why he was really there. Miles actually agreed to bring the band to Harvard and that’s where Miles and Richard’s friendship began.
Sometime after finishing his studies at Harvard, Richard started a practice and had Miles as one of his primary clients. He said that he actually lived with Miles for a number of years. He relayed many stories about Miles that I never knew. He said that Miles had a thing for hair. If you knew Miles well, he would sometime run his fingers through your hair and ask if he could do your hair. He was also a visual artist as many of you may well know. Richard has many works by Miles including some illustrated ties that Miles made.
It’s always great to meet people like Dr. Williams, people who’ve actually lived the history of this music. It’s a constant reminder to me of how NEW this music is in relation to the age of other art forms.
Thank you all for supporting this project and this label! I’m excited to present this project of mostly original material with this NY based band (with all the members having musical ties to Boston/Cambridge). It’s indeed an all-star cast and I don’t think I could have picked a better group for the tunes that I selected for the session. It was one of the smoothest sessions that I’ve ever been a part of music wise, but at the same time, it was one that I was extremely nervous about because we didn’t rehearse and I was worried that everyone on the session would not have had time to check out the music ahead of time. As it turned out, they played the tunes like they wrote them themselves. Every song was recorded in two takes and in most cases we kept the first one. I’m really thankful for that.
Here Today, Gone Yesterday- This song was a part of a project that I presented in 2009 in NYC. The project, “Never Before, Never After”, was a concert featuring my original compositions with the intent of premiering them the night of the concert (Never Before) and never to play them again (Never After). To me, it was a lesson in detachment from my work. The band, however, convinced me that disposing of all the tunes wouldn’t be the best idea, so we agreed to choose one of the tunes and add it to our repertoire. This tune in 7/4 time was the lucky winner!
Abu Abed- This is the newest composition (composed in the summer of 2010) on the record. The song was inspired by a story that I heard on NPR’s This American Life about a man by the name of Abu Abed. I composed this piece in 5/8 time, but it’s much easier felt and played with 5/4 time in mind.
3rd Shift- I wrote this song for my mother. For over 20 years, my mom worked the 3rd Shift in the textile industry, so this tune is dedicated to her!
Takes Courage to be Happy- I wrote this song for Abbey Lincoln in 2006. I had the honor and the pleasure of first meeting Abbey after the first set of one of her performances in Boston at Sculler’s Jazz Club on Valentine’s Day (which happens to be my birthday) several years ago. In our conversation between sets, I remember her asking me if I had my trumpet with me and if I would like to sit in with the band. I didn’t have it with me but we exchanged information and decided to stay in touch because I had many questions for her about the music. I took me about a year to muster up the courage to call her but I did finally. In the course of this conversation, Abbey suddenly says to me, “You know Jason, it Takes Courage to be Happy!” A song was born.
Skylark/I Can’t Help It- This arrangement was a part of a project that I put together for a special performance in the winter of 2009 in Boston. For this project I celebrated the music of Johnny Mercer by arranging some of his classics and fusing them with my originals and other classic tunes in the jazz and pop canon. Me, like most people in mid to late 2009, were mourning the passing of Michael Jackson. In the fall of 2009 I started to rediscover the beauty of the songs that Michael wrote and performed. I then thought of the idea of adding I Can’t Help It (composed by Susaye Greene and Stevie Wonder) to the project I was putting together at the time.
3 Point Turn- I wrote this tune for Mark Turner in October of 2008 in a hotel room in Finland on tour. One of my favorite records is Mark Turner’s Dharma Days. There’s a nice tune in 5/4 time on the record entitled Jacky’s Place. 3 Point Turn is a variation of the B section of Jacky’s Place where I borrowed the pair of chords in the bridge of Jacky’s Place and added two more pairs, making 3!!
Capricorn-This is my reharmonization of a Wayne Shorter classic.
Mark Turner- Mark Turner is one of the most influential non-trumpeters on my approach to improvisation. I spent many hours in college absorbing Mark’s playing and composing style, delving into his records as a leader such as Dharma Days and Ballad Sessions as well as the records he made with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel (The Next Step, Enemies of Energy, and Heartcore). His collaboration with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel produced music that left an indelible earprint on my jazz generation. Mark possesses many of the attributes that John Coltrane exhibited, including the idea of becoming a selfless musician and playing for more of a lofty purpose. When I listen to Mark, the absence of the ego in his playing is pretty evident to me. This project represents the first time that I’ve played with Mark. I’m extremely lucky to have him on this record.
Nir Felder- Nir’s the kind of player that has the intrinsic gift of making the listener want to move one way or another when he plays. He’s one of the busiest guitarists on the scene in NY and that’s saying a lot, considering the bulk of guitarists on the scene. I initially met Nir when he was a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston. I had the occasional pleasure of having Nir in my band at Wally’s so I was able to witness his speedy pace of musical development firsthand. Upon finishing his studies at Berklee, he then moved back to NY to further his already bright career. We reconnected musically in 2009 during our residency at the JazzUV Festival in Veracruz, Mexico.
Edward Perez- Edward has enjoyed having one of the most diverse careers in music to this day. He’s played with many of the greats in jazz (Mark Murphy, Miguel Zenon, Kenny Werner, and Ari Hoenig) to the greats in Latin music (Julio “Chocolate” Algendones, Juan Medrano Cotito, Sergio Valdeos, and Andrés Prado). Born in Texas, Edward began playing music at a young age and by the age of 13 he was a member of the symphony orchestra in his hometown. He l attended the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan as a teenager and went on to study applied mathematics at Harvard University. It was during Edward’s time at Harvard that I was able to begin a musical relationship with him. We played many nights at Wally’s, the Wonderbar, and Ryles Jazz Club.
Kendrick Scott- Kendrick hails from a rich lineage of strong, young, gifted drummers/musicians from Houston Texas. Kendrick Allen Dewitt Scott, affectionately known as KADS, attended the Houston School for Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA). This school has produced musicians such as Eric Harland, Chris Dave, Walter Smith III, Jason Moran, Robert Glasper, Mike Moreno, and Andre Hayward. We first started playing together in saxophonist Grant Langford’s band at The Goodlife in downtown Boston while Kendrick was studying music at Berklee. We later performed in the house band at the Wonderbar and Wally’s Jazz Café. Upon graduating from Berklee, Kendrick relocated to NYC and joined Terence Blanchard’s band, where he has been a mainstay ever since. Kendrick has a golden touch on the set and has strong ears behind a drum set as well as behind a studio soundboard. He is the founder of World Culture Music, a record label based in NY.
Thank you again for listening and I hope you enjoy! Until next time!
Swing it out!
Here’s another workout for you! Trumpeters, use false fingerings in cases where the line feels easier to play using them. Also play these in ascending order. Click here to download!
Here are some simple triadic sequences you can try out if you feel the urge. I would suggest playing these to the double bar first, then try to play from start to finish. Horn players try to play this from start to finish in one breath. Attempt to memorize as well. Click here for the pdf!