Archive for alto

Blindfold Bootleg Series: Greg Osby

Posted in Improvisation, Musical Influences with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2015 by pogo56

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I consider saxophonist/composer/sonic scholar Greg Osby to be my musical godfather.  He gave me my first big break by hiring me to play in his quintet after he released St. Louis Shoes.    This came at a time when I was thinking about quitting music.    I’ve learned what it means to be on the road and how to survive once you’re there under Osby’s tutelage.   He possesses a deep well of knowledge on musical stylings as well as a highly refined sense of taste and these qualities shine brightly in his playing and composing.  Here’s what Greg had to say after hearing the examples:

Example 1: Marcus Strickland live at the Regattabar Cambridge Ma 2008

1. This tenor saxophonist may be JD Allen. He sometimes plays in trio format without chordal accompaniment and it doesn’t sound very much like an older person. I’m assuming that it’s JD based on the player’s vibrato and attention to tone. I say tone as opposed to sound because everyone has a sound but everyone doesn’t necessarily have a tone, as exhibited by many of the likes of a Don Byas, Stan Getz, Ben Webster, Paul Gonsalves, Hank Mobley, Dexter Gordon, etc… TONE – the main ingredient, And JD has a beautiful tone and a very meaningful way of interpreting music. He some exhibits an admirable amount of patience.

AFTER:  OK, it’s Marcus. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard either him or JD enough to have answered this one correctly, but what I have heard from Marcus validates my response. He also has a beautiful full-bodied tone and appears to be concerned with proper execution and the development of solos via beautiful phrases. His ouput is very broad and lush and yet, still very precise.

Example 2: Myron Walden live at Fat Cat NYC (year unknown)

2. I can’t recognize the player, but his rush to flash lost my interest very quickly. There was little to hold onto, in terms of thematic material and melodic development. In the beginning, there was a brief statement, and the next thing I know all the fireworks were quickly being lit. Listening to music like this is akin to being shouted at for extended periods. It’s great to thing hear or to experience music like this live but it somehow loses it’s impact on recordings, given the references to the Coltrane/Jones dynamic that has been explored and even exploited to no end. It makes one wonder why would anyone seek to frame themselves in such an environment these days when the social and arts climate is so significantly different than when this mode of expression was being developed? It just doesn’t have the same meaning behind it anymore and the overall impact is lessened considerably. Somehow, for me, it amounts to yelling and forcing a point when there is none. Again, the players here are fantastic musicians but I’ve grown weary of this approach unless I’m in the venue when it’s actually happening.

AFTER: This makes sense. Myron is what I respectfully call a convert  – which is to say that I heard him first and know of him primarily as an alto saxophonist. I think that would account for the way he plays tenor. Maybe not. However, it’s easy for me to understand the excessively notey approach because many tenor players who “hear” alto or hiigher pitches in their heads like Stitt and Coltrane, have a tendency towards content bombardment. I am also guilty of this, and is why no one will ever hear me play tenor saxophone publicly, or otherwise. Mind you, playing with lots of notes isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it should be a progressive act. Not an aural assault just several bars in. But, just because it overwhelmed me doesn’t make it improper.

Example 3: Logan Richardson live at the Duc du Lombards Paris 2013

3. This very definitely sounds like Logan Richardson, who does have a very considerate and refined style with a strong sense of purpose in his playing as well as in his compositions. I appreciated the pacing of the build during his solo. It was very relaxed and there was no hurry to rush into a technical display. I also recognize his tone, which has some very personal and appealing characteristics to me. Interestingly enough, as an alto player myself, I must admit that I have a very low tolerance for the output of many, if not most, alto players. Some players have sounds that are very strident and devoid of body or fullness. Not human-like enough for my tastes. Also, the tendency for players to overwhelmingly embrace the discoveries and breakthroughs of the most prominent player of the day represents, to me, a failure to define themselves adequately by developing a methodology that emphasizes the core character in their musical makeup. They resign to playing the role of copyists and parrots, as opposed to crafting a style for themselves. This is one of the primary reasons why most laypersons have the usual throwaway impression that “all jazz sounds the same,” One can’t fully blame them for having such a perception, given the lack of sonic diversity amongst the ranks. At any rate, this is not one of those instances. Logan has successfully done what used to be the normal thing to do, which was to recognize and hone one’s own voice.

AFTER: This was the easiest and most obvious example, as Logan is one of my favorite contemporary improvising artists. He has a great mind and is fearless. It would have been nice to have evaluated a few more altoists during this listening session but tenor is, and always has been, much more popular than the smaller horn. There are many reasons for this, but that’s an entirely different discussion.

Example 4: Ravi Coltrane live at the Jazz Standard 2013

4. More chordless saxophone trio. Again I’m at a loss for who it is. I’ll take a wild guess and say Tivon Pennicott but that’s a shot in the dark. I do appreciate the player’s sense of articulation, which is a characteristic That I find to be missing in the playing of many contemporary players who often seen to slur through every line with no detail to the attack or punctuating elements. Here, there’s a sameness in approach that is shared by many younger players that makes them difficult to identify, as if they are all influenced by the same guy. Proficient many, but hopelessly similar.

AFTER: I’ve always enjoyed Ravi’s playing, and I’m surprised that I didn’t recognize him here. I heard him live at Birdland a while ago and was really caught up in his creativity and dominance on the bandstand and how he navigated around within the forms of his music. This performance wasn’t reflective of anything that I heard that night, although I do appreciate his approach to the instrument. He usually doesn’t play in a manner that one would expect, which gets my attention immediately. Perhaps he wasn’t so inspired during this song or maybe there were other moments that night where he caught fire.

Example 5: George Garzone live at the Museum Boston (year unknown)

5. Without know who it is, I must say that I really like this. Some very good decisions are being made and the player sounds very mature and he makes no effort to impress, although he sounds very proficient. The beginning of the solo has definite Stan Getz inflections, which these days is so rare that hearing this is a breath of fresh air. If only players would dig into the archives and research and study the output of some of the more ignored masterful players of the music, they would find an untapped pool of resources that would separate them from the rest of the pack that has chosen to emulate the popular players of the day. I almost hear a bit of Charles Lloyd in the makeup of this player. Yet another untapped resource worth investigating.

AFTER: I was right about the mature aspects of the tenor playing here, but I’m disappointed in myself for not recognizing George. What he does is always masterful and unique. He has a genuine love of the art and comes with a great deal of passion and information that he can back up theoretically as well as sonically. I can hear many levels of acknowledgement and history in his playing, coupled with his own discoveries and developments. He is one of the important voices and minds in contemporary improvised music.Example 6: Bill McHenry Live at the Village Vanguard Nyc (year unknown)

6. No clue. I don’t hear very many identifying characteristics other than the eighth note feel in the lines. I did like the development of the riff in the beginning, as well as the articulation.
AFTER: I have heard Bill live several times, but even after the reveal I still don’t know enough about what he does to identify him.

Example 7: Tim Warfield live at Scullers (year unknown)7. I can’t identify this player either. It’s interesting because I happen to go out to hear players perform live a LOT, and I thought that I knew the approaches styles and detail of many of the younger cats. However hearing this final player is akin to sampling perfume – in a short while, they all start to smell the same, even if they are amazing. In the case of this listening session, I’ve heard some amazingly accomplished players, but, for me, most of them lack standout characteristics in style, approach interpretation, concept, logic, phrasing and TONE (most important) This isn’t to say they are not good players, I’m saying that there’s not much of a difference between them other than that they’ve all have an exceptionally similar educational makeup and inspirational foundation. They not only speak the same language, but the same dialect and inflections as will, which makes listening to them fine – the first rime.

AFTER: It’s been years since I’ve heard Tim live, and this example shows very few outstanding or identifying markers, if you will. What he’s doing certainly shows accomplishment, but I was waiting for something that really would set him apart from anyone else, and it didn’t happen for me. I’m not referring to something very radical either – perhaps a personally developed technique, conceptual approach, a way of developing ideas and phrases, a very personal tone, juxtaposition of thoughts, etc.. something that would make me do a double take or press rewind. None of my observations are meant to suggest that he is incapable of these things, it just isn’t projected on this cut.

When I hear Ben Webster, Don Byas, Gene Ammons, Paul Desmond, Joe Henderson, Cannonball, Getz, Ben Webster, Young, Hodges, Konitz, etc.. play just a few notes, their identity is unmistakeable. Who they are is not necessarily defined by content, but by a deliberate crafting and cultivation of a trademark tone and a sense of purpose.

Everyone do yourself a huge favor by staying current to Greg’s new projects and live events by frequenting his website.

Jason Palmer Septet Live at the Jazz Gallery 2013

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2013 by pogo56

All Original compositions featuring:
Mark Shim-Tenor Saxophone
Godwin Louis-Alto Saxophone
Mike Moreno-Guitar
Leo Genovese-Piano
Edward Perez-Bass
E.J. Strickland-Drums
Jason Palmer-Trumpet

Update!!

Posted in Performance, Stories in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2011 by pogo56

Hello Everyone,

I hope that you all are enjoying these last days of summer!! Just writing here to update you on what’s been up with me this summer and what’s planned for the fall!

I started off the summer in the start of June in NY, performing and recording with saxophonist/composer Dan Blake. Look out for his album soon!! Some beautifully, soulful, intricate music!! Check out a clip from our live gig at the Douglas Street Music Collective here:

I then went on a US/Canada tour with the Grace Kelly Quintet, with special guest Phil Woods joining us for a few of the dates. It’s always a learning experience being in the presence of a master like Phil. I love picking his brain about the musical society of the past several decades. He’s got a boots on the ground perspective of the goings-on in the music!! That tour involved stops in Rochester, Cleveland, Niagara Falls, Philadelphia, the Berkshires, Boston, and Montreal.

In the start of Juiy, I traveled to Europe for a couple of concerts with Grace in Stuttgart, Germany and Mureck, Austria. After the concert n Austria, I then went to Paris for 12 days of R&R with my wife and time to arrange music for the next gig. In those 12 days I did a fair share of sightseeing and I also saw many friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. While I was in Paris I saw/heard some wonderful concerts at the Sunset/Sunside (one lead by Lionel Loueke and one led by Tom Harrell) and a nice concert at the Olympia (Marcus Miller’s homage to Miles which featured Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Sean Jones, and Sean Rickman).

I then ended the European tour with a week residency at the Jazz Nights Festival in Langnau, Switzerland and a member of the FLY7 ensemble (Jeff Ballard, Mark Turner, Larry Grenadier, Edward Simon, Becca Stevens, and me). Our residency included 6 hours of instruction a day and a few concerts in the week. There were also two bands that came to perform in the evening nightly. Throughout the week I had the pleasure of hearing John Scofield’s new group (Sco, Mulgrew Miller, Scott Colley, and Bill Stewart), Nir Felder’s 4tet (Nir, Aaron Parks, Ben Street, and Henry Cole), Ravi Coltrane’s 4tet (Ravi, Luis Perdomo, Hans Glavischnig, and EJ Strickland). Here’s a clip from the concert of FLY7.

When we returned to the States, I played a few concerts in Boston followed by a set at the Newport Jazz Festival with Grace’s 5tet featuring Phil Woods and Bill Goodwin.

The following week I traveled to Washington State to attend my brother-in-law’s wedding and to visit with my wife’s family. It was a wonderful trip but it was cut short by a gig that I had at the Oslo Jazz Festival in Norway with GK5 featuring Phil Woods. While I was in Oslo I caught up with some wonderful musician friends that I hadn’t seen in a while (trumpeter Michael Rodriguez, Johnathan Blake, Lage Lund). A word to the wise: For the concert in Oslo, I brought 3 cds to sell after the concert. I sold them all, the festival took 10% commission, the currency exchange took 10% and I still got 100 USD for the sale of 3 of my cds.

So that pretty much brings us up to date. There are several engagements that I am excited for this fall/winter. Before I let you know of them, I’d like you all to join me in congratulating the alto saxophonist in my Boston-based band Michael Thomas on his recent accomplishment. Michael was just accepted into the exclusive artist diploma program at Julliard where he’ll be starting in the fall of this year!! It’s been a pleasure having Michael in my band and I look forward to hearing great things from/about him in NY in the years to come.

I’d like you all to keep on the lookout for the release of my 3rd album entitled Here Today on Steeplechase Records. The album features the Great Mark Turner on tenor, Nir Felder-Guitar, Edward Perez-Bass, and Kendrick Scott-Drums. There will be a cd release concert on September 23rd in Ny at the Jazz Gallery. That concert will feature everyone on the record, with the exception of Marcus Strickland in place for Mark Turner. Release date is slated for September 10th!

I’ll be making my 6th trip to Europe this year in October with a series of concerts with vocalist Melissa Oliveira in Portugal and guitarist Oscar Penas in Spain.

In November I’ll be subbing for the wonderful trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire in his band for a series of concerts in the US as part of a Miles Davis retrospective.

All of these dates can be found on my schedule page.

Thank you for reading!! Stay tuned here as well as my youtube page.

Jason Palmer

Short Story on Jazz in the White House…

Posted in Stories in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2011 by pogo56

Tonight I was talking to Phil Woods after our gig with Grace in Vienna about his time in Dizzy’s big band. He was telling me about the time when they came back from a State-Sponsored Ambassador tour for a performance at the White House. He told me that after the concert, the only senator to come backstage and congratulate them on their work was…..John F. Kennedy!! Phil said that JFK shook every bandmembers’ hand! Hearing this just deepened my love and respect for this great man. Who in the White House today besides the First Family do you think would greet the band nowadays?


What’s been up with me lately?!!…

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2011 by pogo56

Hello all,

Just a quick update on me and what I’ve been up to. I am currently in the middle of a 2 week European tour with Grace Kelly and the 5tet. Special Guest Phil Woods will be joining us for a few of the concerts as well. We’re touring in support of Grace’s newest record entitled Man with the Hat, which features Phil, Monty Alexander, Bill Goodwin, and the working 5tet’s bassist, Evan Gregor. The band started out in Norway and I flew out (a day earlier than scheduled, due to the predicted weather conditions in Boston) to meet the band in Barcelona. We’ve had wonderful concerts in Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid, Berlin, and Pforzheim so far. It’s nice to be performing new material with this band as well as visiting some of the older tunes from the book. I’m starting to realize how much of a perception change occurs towards previously played material when a handful of new tunes are thrown into the mix. I’ve been finding myself approaching the older tunes from a different improvisational angle in an effort to really get into the character of the piece while at the same time, pay close attention to the overall theme of the sets that we’ve played.

Live at the A Trane in Berlin. Photo by Anette and Arvo Wichmann. Their website can be found at http://www.photojazz.de/about.html

I’m also prepping for my debut as a leader at Sculler’s Jazz Club on March 15th!! Come out and hear some great music if you are in the Boston area!! The show will feature the fabulous singing of my wife Colleen Palmer!!

I recently recieved the news that I was named a 2011 Artist Fellow by the Massachusetts Cultural Council!! I’m really excited about this because it’s going to allow me to present a special project that I’ve had on the backburner for some time! Stay tuned for more news on that!

I’m currently in the process of ironing out some details with my potential endorsement with P. Mauriat Trumpets. I’ve been trying out one of their horns recently on this tour!!!

The movie that I starred in, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench is still making the rounds at indie theatres nationwide and should be making it’s release to dvd in the spring so stay tuned!

And above all, I’m having a great time teaching at Berklee this semester. It’s a blessing for me to have a job going in 9-6 and coming home feeling so rewarded knowing that I’ve done what I can do to make the musical landscape more fertile for greatness.

Take care, and keep living in the light!!

Jason Palmer

Notes from the Road

Posted in Performance, Stories in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2010 by pogo56

Hello everyone,

Just wanted to let you know what I’m up to. I’m currently out on tour performing with Grace Kelly’s Quintet. We had our first gig at The Domicile in Pforzheim last night.

This club has been around for 30+ years and over the years many, many greats have performed there. I was talking to the owner Axel about the players who have come through and he mentioned Woody Shaw, Nat Adderley, Joe Henderson, Dewey Redman, Maynard Ferguson, etc. There were pictures of these players on one of the walls. He lives upstairs from his club and the dressing room is up in one of his flats. He also has a nice record collection in the dressing room, which is situated more like a living room in a home.

The gig was sooo much fun, great crowd and great music. There’s always special moments happening on stage and I never know when they’ll happen so the mystery of it all is very attractive to me. It’s one of the reasons I love this music.

I think I’m going to walk along the Danube today, it’s pretty nice out!! Next stop, Ingolstadt, Germany!!

Stay tuned!

J.P.

Nothing to Hide Liner Notes

Posted in Improvisation, jazz trumpet music, Musical Influences, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2010 by pogo56

Hello all,

Since many folks that I know are checking out Nothing to Hide in the digital only format, I thought that I’d copy a sketch of the liner notes that I wrote for the album here. Digital formats have a big drawback where you only get the music, not the story behind the concept and the players. It’s sad to see. Most of the history I obtained about this music came from liner notes and books. This will probably assist in informing you on where each song’s concept came from as well as information about the player’s on the record. Here are the notes:

The concept for Nothing to Hide stems from the idea that I am an open book when it comes to paying homage to the trumpeters and musicians that influenced my styles of playing, composing, and arranging.

Fly Little Bird Fly: I developed a love for this Donald Byrd composition after hearing Darren Barrett, one of my musical mentors, perform it with his band on several occasions. Donald takes this tune at a breakneck tempo on the original Blue Note recording. I decided to arrange it in 5/4 time and play at slower pace. The staggered entrances and exits for this track was an idea of mine that was inspired by Wayne Shorter’s composition entitled Unity. I like to call this method the “Unity” method.

Nothing to Hide: I drew inspiration in composing this tune from a Kurt Rosenwinkel composition entitled Undercover. In 2008 I became the first trumpet player to be hired by the iconic guitarist. When performed live, Nothing to Hide, played in 13/4 time, features everyone in the band. It’s an epic tune that tends to cover many moods throughout the course of the performance. We usually open or close a set by playing this tune.

LaRue: My intention for this arrangement was to showcase one of my favorite Clifford Brown compositions (LaRue) and add a dash of another (Delilah), which occurs at the end of this track. The original recording of LaRue featured Kenny Dorham’s great hornwork, so I wanted to pay homage to him on this recording as well by documenting this tune. In arranging this song I decided to speed the tempo a bit and incorporate the bass figure from one of my original compositions entitled Laid Up, which appears on my previous release Songbook.

The Gigolo: This is one the more risky arrangements that I chose to present on this recording. I arranged this Lee Morgan original in 9/4 time using a bass line from an excerpt from my Sudoku Suite entitled Guidance that has a coda section which features Lee Fish. This rendition of The Gigolo is taken at a brisker pace as compared to the original version recording on Morgan’s record of the same name.

Strength and Sanity: Booker Little is one of the most underrated, unrecognized trumpeters in the history of this music. His untimely death in 1961 at the age of 23 was a huge blow to the continuum of jazz trumpeters, especially considering the death of Clifford Brown 5 years earlier. The first time I heard this composition, I was instantly wrapped up in its serenity. Booker’s body of compositions taught me not only to disregard my fear of dissonance, but to actually embrace it in my style of writing and arranging. I didn’t stray too far away from the properties of the original recording on the track.

Here and Now: The complete working title for this tune is: Where is the Place and Time for Everything that Everyone’s Been Talking About? Here and Now. It’s enlightening to perform this waltz because I enjoy the exchange with Michael Thomas, while at the same time we also share the responsibility of playing the 4 bars of the melody while the other improvises. To me, it’s a fun, simple, musical challenge. This particular version also features Greg’s great guitar work.

Luana: This tune and the original record that it’s on have a special place in my heart. Freddie Hubbard’s Hub Cap was one of the first albums that I owned of Freddie as a leader. The first time I heard Luana I knew I had to transcribe it and perform it with my band at the time. I then had the great fortune of meeting Freddie Hubbard in Boston and was fortunate enough to talk shop and have his signature on the cover of Hub Cap. For the version on this album I reigned in the tempo a bit and combined Freddie’s melody and harmonic progression with a tune of mine entitled Preservation of the Lower 9th Ward (aka Lower 9th Ward). Maybe you’ll hear that tune on a later release or at a live performance because we perform it quite often.

Half Nelson: This Miles Davis original was arranged in 9/4 time by Lee Fish. Lee brought in this arrangement around the time when we started rehearsing these songs. As soon as we played it, I thought that it would be a great fit to the set. The intro to this song also serves as the outro, where Lee is featured.

I’m extremely excited to present to you the members of my working band. We perform weekly (Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as Sunday afternoon) at Wally’s Café in Boston’s historic South End. I’ve been presenting quintets and trios there every weekend since 2000. I may be the only musician of my generation that’s held a residency at the same club for this amount of time. This is something that I’m proud of because I enjoy bringing the music to the people in such an intimate setting as Wally’s Café. Over the course of my residency there, I’ve had the great fortune of having some of the most creative, young minds in this music on the stage and this is the latest batch:

Michael Thomas: Michael joined the working band in 2009. Hearing him in his element always makes me wonder if there’s anything that he can hear that he can’t play. He is one of those players that give you the impression that nothing comes between what he hears in his musical imagination and his instrument. If I played alto, I know that I would be checking out Michael’s style for reference. A recent graduate of Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory, Michael’s talents have already taken him to stages big and small in the U.S. and abroad to countries such as Latvia and Panama.

Greg Duncan: I have had the distinct pleasure of having Greg in the band for the past four years. His instrumental versatility and instincts go far beyond what he plays in his own solos. I’ve found him to be one of the more inventive accompanists that I’ve gotten to play with thus far. One word that comes to mind when I hear Greg improvise in this particular context is fluid. When he plays, the thoughtful ear is informed of how much extensive homework Greg has done on his instrument to get to where he is now.

Lim Yang: Lim’s a solid bassist who joined the outfit almost two years ago. Originally from South Korea, Lim made the move to Boston to study music. I was very lucky to become acquainted with Lim’s playing when I did because it happened to be around the time when the bassist in my band was making the move to NYC. Lim stepped in and made an immediate positive impression which led me to believe that her contribution to the band would be invaluable. She’s proven me right.

Lee Fish: Of all the members of the band, Lee’s been a member the longest. Lee’s got big ears, great instincts, and has an extremely balanced sound on the drum set, which is paramount in a recording situation. Lee’s also a talented composer and arranger.

J.P.