All Original compositions featuring:
Mark Shim-Tenor Saxophone
Godwin Louis-Alto Saxophone
All Original compositions featuring:
Mark Shim-Tenor Saxophone
Godwin Louis-Alto Saxophone
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!!
Despite possessing a pure tone, virtuoso technique
and wide-ranging knowledge of the jazz canon, Jason
Palmer remains relatively unheralded.
Nothing To Hide, a fine followup to his impressive debut of originals Songbook, shows a similar adventurousness on a program of imaginative interpretations of classics by Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and Booker Little, along with two of his own pieces performed with his regular working quintet of altoist Mike Thomas, guitarist Greg Duncan, bassist Lim Yang and drummer Lee Fish.
Opening with Byrd’s “Fly Little Bird Fly” Palmer
quickly demonstrates his innovative personality as an
arranger. Slowing down the tempo and changing the
time signature to a swinging 5/4 he makes the piece
his own, an excellent vehicle for his thoughtful
improvising, complemented by Thomas’ fiery alto.
Similarly intrepid orchestrations of Brown’s “Larue”
(interpolating the composer’s “Delilah” and an
original bass figure), Morgan’s “The Gigolo” (in 9/4
with another original bassline), Hubbard’s “Luana”
(slowing the tempo and melding it with his own
“Lower 9th Ward”) and Davis’ “Half Nelson”
(arranged by Fish in 9/4) display a penetrating
individuality. Only on Booker Little’s “Strength and
Sanity” does Palmer remain faithful to the original,
revealing a deep respect for the late trumpeter, whose
influence on his own compositional style is evident on
the originals “Nothing To Hide” and “Here And Now”
-the date’s most forward-looking entries.
At the Jazz Gallery Dec. 9th, the group (Mitsuru
Yoshizumi subbing for Yang) performed two sets of
intriguing originals and orchestrations (mainly
arrangements of songs by funk futurist Janelle Monáe)
that clearly identified Palmer as a visionary player
with an astounding vocabulary, playing music in a
uniquely personal voice, which while steeped in the
feats of the past, pushes inexorably towards tomorrow.
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!!
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.