Archive for clifford

Meeting the Other Richard Williams, Dr. Richard Allen Williams!

Posted in Stories in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by pogo56

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.

Dr. Williams also has a record that’s available through cd baby! You can check it out by clicking on the picture below.

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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.

My New Record is Available Now!!

Posted in Improvisation, jazz trumpet music, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2010 by pogo56

I’m proud to announce that my newest cd entitled Nothing to Hide is now available by clicking here. If you live in Boston, you can also purchase them from me at my weekly gig at Wally’s Jazz Cafe on Friday and Saturday nights as well as Sunday afternoons. I’ll probably always have some on me so if you see me playing somewhere else you can also grab a copy then too.

Onward and upward!

J.P.

Upcoming Dates

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2010 by pogo56

Here’s a schedule of upcoming shows. Showtimes and dates are subject to change.

September 11 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Cafe

September 12 4:30-8pm Jason Palmer trio hosts the jam session at Wally’s Jazz Cafe

September 17 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Cafe

September 18 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Cafe

September 19 4:30-8pm Jason Palmer trio hosts the jam session at Wally’s Jazz Cafe

September 20 Time TBA Kansas City (Venue TBA) with Grace Kelly 5tet

September 23 7pm-8pm Birdland with Grace Kelly 5tet opening for Joe Lovano

September 23 Time 9pm-11:30pm NYC at the Tea Lounge with Brian Landrus Group

September 24 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Cafe

September 25 3:30pm Beantown Festival with Grace Kelly 5tet

September 25 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Cafe

September 26 4:30-8pm Jason Palmer trio hosts the jam session at Wally’s Jazz Cafe

September 29th 8:00pm Jason Palmer with Lewis Nash at Berklee Performance Center

October 1 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Cafe

October 2 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Cafe

October 3 6pm-9pm Pressroom in Portsmouth NH with Grace Kelly 5tet

October 8 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Cafe

October 9 9:30-1am Chan’s in Rhode Island with Grace Kelly 5tet

October 11 Time TBA Domicile Pforzheim Germany with Grace Kelly 5tet

October 13 Time TBA Burgerhaus Diagonal Ingolstadt Germany with Grace Kelly 5tet

October 14 Time TBA Enjoy Jazz Festival Heidelberg Germany with Grace Kelly 5tet

October 15th Time TBA Soundtheater Wels Austria with Grace Kelly 5tet

October 21 Time TBA Magic Mirrors Jazz Festival Toulouse, France with Grace Kelly 5tet

October 23 Time TBA Altstadt Festival Salzburg Austria with Grace Kelly 5tet

October 24 Time TBA 10er Haus Bad Radkersburg with Grace Kelly 5tet

October 29 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Cafe

October 30 Time TBA Clifford Brown Tribute Concert in Wilmington Delaware

October 31 7pm Jason Palmer with Doug Johnson @ First Parish in Dorchester, MA

November 5 Time TBA Rockport Music Hall (MA) with Grace Kelly 5tet

November 7-15 JazzUV Festival Residency in Xalapa Mexico

December 9 8pm Jason Palmer and the Public Option at the Jazz Gallery in NYC

December 11 8pm Center for the Arts in Natick Mass. with Grace Kelly 5tet

February 1-8 TBA European tour with Grace Kelly 5tet

March 15 8pm Sculler’s Jazz Club with my band

April 12 Time TBA Residency at the University of North Dakota

April 25-May 13 UK tour with Michael Janisch

Influence: Clifford Brown

Posted in Musical Influences with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2009 by pogo56

I heard Clifford Brown’s playing for the first time when I was a teenager. I was on my way back home from a small group rehearsal at the Greensboro Music Academy (where I was a student at the time), and the pianist in the group, Branson Page, pops Study in Brown into the cd player. After hearing Brownie’s solo on Cherokee I was hooked. I hadn’t heard a trumpet sound like that up to that point. So I went out and bought that cd and learned his solo on Cherokee. I made it a point to check out as many of his records and through reading the liners to his records I was able to learn about his life and his tragic death in 1956. The life he led inspired me to stay “clean”.

During my senior year in high school, I met a vibes player by the name of Jon Metzger. I mentioned to him how much I admired Clifford and his playing. He suggested that I contact Clifford’s widow LaRue Watson Brown. He gave me her phone number but it took me about a year to gather up the courage to call her. I finally called her and we talked for a couple of hours about music, life, and Clifford. She told me that one of Clifford’s only addictions was doughnuts. He would eat an entire box of doughnuts in one sitting. I asked her about the Strings album and how it came about. She told me that Clifford wanted to have a child, but she didn’t want to have one just yet. So she told him that if he recorded a classical album they could have a child. He said what about a strings album and she agreed and a child was born.

Throughout the years I’ve been fortunate to acquire more rare recordings of Clifford’s artistry. From the people that I’ve met that played with him or heard him play, they all tell me that recordings don’t really do Brownie’s sound justice. They say that his sound was huge and warm in ALL registers. I learned a lot from hearing about that……

brownie