Here’s a list of records that I’ve either released as a leader or performed on as a sideman. I’ve lost track of some that I’ve played on so if I left one out, please let me know and I’ll add it to this post.
Archive for michael
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.
Here’s a schedule of upcoming shows. Showtimes and dates are subject to change.
December 9 8pm Jason Palmer and the Public Option at the Jazz Gallery in NYC
December 10 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Café
December 11 8pm Jason Palmer w/Grace Kelly Center for the Arts Natick, MA
December 16 Afternoon Recording for SteepleChase (M.Turner, K. Scott, N. Felder, E Perez)
December 17 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Café
December 18 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Cafe
December 19 6-8pm Pressroom in Portsmouth New Hampshire
December 24 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Café
December 25 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Café
January 7 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Cafe
January 8 noon APAP NYC w/Grace Kelly 5tet
January 14 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Café
January 15 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Café
January 21 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Café
January 22 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Café
January 25 7:30-11pm Jazz Standard w/GK 5tet
January 26 8-midnight Beehive with Michael Feinberg
January 28 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Café
January 29 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Cafe
February 3 TBA Jason Palmer w/GK 5tet L’Auditori Of Barcelona Spain
Feb 4 TBA Jason Palmer w/GK 5tet Bix Stuutgart, Germany
Feb TBA Jason Palmer w/GK 5tet The Black Note Club Valencia,
Feb 5 TBA Jason Palmer w/GK 5tet Sala Clamores Madrid, Spain
Feb 6 TBA Jason Palmer w/GK 5tet A-Trane Berlin, Germany
Feb 7 TBA Jason Palmer w/GK 5tet Jazzclub Hannover, Germany
Feb TBA Jason Palmer w/GK 5tet Domicile Pforzheim, Germany
Feb 14 TBA Jason Palmer w/GK 5tet Jazzclub RHeinfeld bei Basel, Germany
February 25 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Café
February 26 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Café
March 4 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Café
March 5 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Café
March 11 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Café
March 12 9:30-1am Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Wally’s Jazz Cafe
March 15 9pm Jason Palmer and the Public Option at Sculler’s Jazz Club
April 26 Time TBA Ramsgate w/Michael Janisch’s Paradigm Shift
April 27 Time TBA Birmingham at The Cross w/Michael Janisch Paradigm Shift
April 28 Time TBA Glasgow Scotland Arts Club w/Michael Janisch Paradigm Shift
April 29 Time TBA Edinburgh Scotland Jazz Bar w/Michael Janisch Paradigm Shift
April 30 Time TBA JJ Smyth’s Dublin Ireland w/Michael Janisch Paradigm Shift
May 1 Time TBA Derry Fest. Northern Ireland w/David Lyttle’s Project
May 4 Time TBA Pizza Express w/Michael Janisch Paradigm Shift London
May 5 Time TBA Pizza Express w/Michael Janisch Paradigm Shift London
May 6 Time TBA Live Theatre in Newcastle w/Michael Janisch Paradigm Shift
June 15 Time TBA Rochester Jazz Fest w/Grace Kelly 5tet
June 17th Time TBA East Lansing w/Grace Kelly 5tet
July 1-23 Time TBA European Tour w/Grace Kelly 5tet
August 11 Time TBA Martha’s Vineyard Jazz Fest w/Grace Kelly 5tet
November 5 8pm Ellen Theater Bozeman MT w/Grace Kelly 5tet
December 3 Time TBA Carnegie Hall (Zankel Hall) with Ambrose Akinmusire Big Band
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.
I know it’s been a while since my last post. Life’s been really busy for me lately and I believe that to be a good thing. I recently played my first gig with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in a program entitled Basie and the Blues. It was a blast! I’ve also been busy prepping for a short series of concerts that I’ll be giving in London at the storied Pizza Express. On March 15th and 16th I’ll be presenting some original music with a special quartet that will feature:
While I’m there I’ll also be working with students at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
I wanted to let you all know that I’ll be taking my working band into the studio for the first time this weekend. On Sunday Feb. 28 we’ll be recording at Knoop Studios in New Jersey for my debut release on Steeplechase Records. I’m really psyched and grateful to be be an artist on this label because much of my musical development is directly attributed to absorbing recordings from this label. Many of my favorite players recorded for this label, including Dexter Gordon, Kenny Dorham, Louis Smith, Chet Baker, Nat Adderley, my teacher John McNeil, and the lists goes on and on.
The premise of the project is that I took a handful of songs composed by trumpeters who have influenced me over the years and arranged them for my working quintet. On the docket I have tunes composed and played by Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown, Kenny Dorham, Freddie Hubbard, and Donald Byrd. I wish I had time to arrange more songs by various trumpeters but you know how life is. I’ll incorporate more on a future date perhaps. There will also be a few select originals on the record and we may record a very nice arrangement of Half Nelson penned by our drummer Lee Fish. The personel on the album will be:
Michael Thomas-alto saxophone
I haven’t come up with a title for the record, liners, design, etc. but I hope to have that done by the end of March.
To keep up with where I’ll be playing (maybe I’ll be performing in a city near you!), please don’t don’t forget to check my myspace page periodically. I think I’m one of the few that’s still active on that site.
All the best,