Category: trending

SAXOPHONIST TEODROSS AVERY QUARTET EXPLORES MONK & COLTRANE


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a recently held concert on the campus of my Alma Mater, California State University Dominguez Hills, Dr. Teodross Avery addressed a SRO audience on the rare compositions of Jazz icons John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk.  Avery , a professor of music at the university, curated an eclectic list of compositions by the two masters. Several of the tunes , rarely played on bandstands today, offered as proof of the complexity and challenges of playing compositions by Monk or Trane. a couple of favorites of mine were presented in their full, regal splendor, Trinkle Tinkle by Monk and The Promise by Coltrane.

As a musician, Dr. Teodross Avery stands as one who defines live music—best experienced in front row, and full throttle. His commanding presence, on stage and off, reflects his musical ingenuity and skill. With an outstanding pedigree, both professionally and academically, Teodross is a saxophonist to watch, as evidenced by many of today’s biggest names in music relying on his wide musical reach.

While growing up in Oakland and Vacaville, California, Teodross’ parents exposed him to a wide range of music including traditional Eastern and Western African music, Soul, Rock, and Jazz.  Dr. Avery put together a very solid jazz unit for the Thursday night crowd at the school.

In the band with Teodross was, veteran bassist, Henry “Skipper” Franklin, former drummer for Jay Leno’s TV show, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, journeyman pianist, Theo Saunders. Saunders was on fire on several tunes by Monk.    (https://www.teodrossavery.com) the rare composition “The Promise” was opened with a Franklin pizzicato solo for a great introduction to this spiritual composition.

 

 

 

https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipNYy0Lnml3w_fJ7ngHkXSRNrucUZg5r3r07GKub

 

 

 

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ARETHA FRANKLIN QUEEN OF SOUL ~ THE END OF AN ERA ~1942 – 2018


 

As a baby boomer, I grew up 1950s-60s, being only 8 years behind Aretha. I was digging on all that good music from those people my parents liked, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Brook Benton, Dinah Washington, BB King, Bobby Blue Bland, Lloyd Price. Then the Motown thing hit L.A. starting with a group from Detroit named the Miracles (Shop Around 1960).

but, I also begun to get into jazz as I got older and started playing an instrument. From early 1961 to 1963, this Motown sound was picking up steam and other entertainers from Detroit, Chicago and New York were spawning new and younger acts. A couple more years passed with no acts “jumping out” there like Motown was producing at the time. Hits from Mary Wells, The Marvelettes and The Temptations really shot out there with My Girl (1964), that was followed by the Supremes and Martha & the Vandellas, “Dancing in the Streets” & “Heat Wave”. This was the phenoms from Motown that was eating up all the airwaves on the radio back then.  But, by 1966, other “Acts” started to come into sharp focus.

The Impressions, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and even Soul Brother #1, James Brown was sounding different. One evening, I was watching a local TV dance show, and this young spunky, bouncy  singer came on with this big bellowing voice.. WoW!! Who is that?? I never heard again from her until 1967, when she came on the radio with “Respect”… Man-o-Man!  I immediately recognized that voice from only a year past , this was different. She sounded like she was speaking truth, had pain from her experiences and I was relating big time.

Before  I could get to school that morning,  I heard that song about 5 times in less than an hour, by 3:pm  after school, it was all over the radio. It was on the lips of older and young people..R_E_S_P_E_C_T, Take care , TCB!! It was on like popcorn then . Her song made it to #1 in the US in 1967. This song charted to number 2 in Canada, number 10 in the UK, number 11 in the Netherlands, and number 15 in Australia. This was the beginning of a musical legend. As far as I was concern , and many of my peers agreed with me, she was as big as James Brown.. Finally we had a Queen of soul go with the King of Soul ,JB. The consistency and relentless  energy and ability to take you to church whether you wanted to go or not.

She had all that stuff inside her playing and singing you would hear in Church coming up in the black community. She had that extra gear. Her signature “hollers” was like saying “Amen to what she was putting down on the record”. That even transferred over to her live shows on TV’s Ed Sullivan, Merv Griffith and the Johnny Carson shows.

Rolling like a runaway train with hit after hit, leaving high water marks everywhere she appeared…as part of the black political and social experience, we adopted Aretha’s phrases from her songs, TCB, RESPECT, a Do Right Woman or Man. 1968 rolled into place with a plethora of hits like Dr. Feel Good, Think, Chain of Fools, and Ain’t No Way. Included in that was a song she sung at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral.

I know I will never forget about Aretha Franklin. I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that, she will never grace a stage on earth again. I feel like I’m the lucky one, because I saw the Queen “blow-away” all comers, top shelf entertainers and anybody, male or female from that perch multiple times, over decades. 40+ Grammy nominations with 18 Awards in her quiver. Masterful achievements.

As I get ready for my 50th high School reunion, I know we will be playing lots of Ree-Ree from her debut hit, “RESPECT” to her last recordings unreleased yet. There are only a handful of miracles, not the Motown kind, but could include them also on another level. But, artists like Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder..well there’s your handful. ha ha ha!! The mold was broken and never again will there be another.  Good bye Queen, I salute you with my favorite “Retha” cut…ENJOY! 

JAZZTRACKS SERIES BY EDDIE CARTER ~ STANLEY TURRENTINE


 

 

 

 

Stanley Turrentine with the Three Sounds – Blue Hour

Music Matters Jazz

In the hands of Stanley Turrentine, the tenor saxophone was an instrument of soulful creativity and immense power.  From his 1960 Blue Note debut, Look Out (BLP 4039/BST 84039) through his biggest hit for CTI Records, Sugar (CTI 6005) in 1971, Turrentine’s credentials were second to none as a giant in the genres of Hard-Bop, Modal and Soul-Jazz.  The subject of this discussion places the tenor man in the company of Gene Harris on piano; Andrew Simpkins on bass and Bill Dowdy on drums who were collectively known as The Three Sounds for a program of the Blues.  Blue Hour (BLP 4057/BST 84057), originally released in 1961 is the second of only two records where The Three Sounds would back a saxophonist.  The first LP was 1959’s LD + 3 (BLP 4012/BST 84012) with alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson.  My copy used in this report is the 2015 Music Matters 33 1/3 Stereo reissue (MMBST-84057).  The 1930 song, I Want a Little Girl written by Murray Mencher and Billy Moll leads off the first side.  This infrequently heard ballad opens with an angelic introduction by the trio, exhibiting Harris’ attentiveness to the lyric and melody.  Stanley joins in for the theme with a quiet sincerity in his approach, then delivers a graceful performance which captures the essence of this standard on the initial solo.  Harris’ interlude is brief, but lovely and the closing by the quartet is especially beautiful.

Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You was written in 1929 by Don Redman and Andy Razaf.  The song became a jazz standard in 1943 after Nat King Cole recorded it with his trio.  The Three Sounds provide a nostalgic mood with a pensive introduction, allowing Stanley to deliver the melancholy melody with feeling.  Turrentine starts the solos tastefully, enhancing each verse with subtle lyricism which reaches a peak of sensitivity at its conclusion.  Harris instills the closing presentation of this standard with new life on an interpretation of intimate warmth which is a work of beauty.  The only original on the album ends the first side, Gene Harris’ Blue Riff takes the tempo to a medium beat during the opening chorus which moves with a finger-popping, toe-tapping groove.  The Sounds’ introduction sets the mood for Stanley to create some jubilant phrases on the opening statement with a vivacious spontaneity which builds to a successful summation.  Gene takes the next turn for a cheerful presentation of joyful swinging with a youthful spirit which is also delightful.  Stanley returns for a few final verses of soulful riffs, prior to Gene leading the trio into a fadeout.

The 1945 jazz and pop standard, Since I Fell For You by Buddy Johnson opens the second side.  Johnson wrote both the music and words of this very beautiful ballad, and first introduced that year it with his sister Ella on vocals.  This evergreen is one of the most recorded songs in jazz and pop and has been performed by many of the greatest musicians and vocalists in both genres.  The Three Sounds start the song with a stylishly soft, slow-paced introduction as natural as if the song was written for this album exclusively.  The trio segues into a soothing opening melody by Turrentine who solos twice, delivering tasteful and tranquil restraint on the first interpretation and closing chorus.  Harris contributes a luscious reading which is lovingly stated with tenderness.  Simpkins and Dowdy’s accompaniment is richly satisfying behind Gene as he performs each voluptuous verse.  One of my favorite standards, Willow Weep For Me, written by Ann Ronell in 1932 opens with the exquisitely mellow tone of Stanley’s tenor sax leading the quartet through the main theme for one of his definitive ballad performances on the LP.  Gene’s opening statement is a gorgeous, mid-tempo reading which compliments his colleague’s exceptional groundwork into an alluring culmination.  Stanley’s closing performance starts at a poignant pace with a firm introspective tone, followed by a graceful swing which takes the tune down smoothly into a luscious finale.

Pianist Gene Harris, who was known for his gospel jazz style formed The Three Sounds in 1956 with Andy Simpkins and Bill Dowdy.  The group became a hit with the public and by the time Blue Hour was recorded, the trio was amid a four-year run (1958-1962) recording a total of twelve albums for Blue Note including four in 1960 alone, which is why I believe Alfred Lion didn’t release the additional eight songs available on the 2000 two CD – album after this record hit the stores.  The Three Sounds’ would be together until 1970, when Harris would leave to embark on a successful solo career.  Stanley Turrentine was a veteran tenor saxophonist of the Soul-Jazz style since the fifties and he would record a total of seventeen LP’s for the label as a leader, plus several as a sideman including guitarist Kenny Burrell on Midnight Blue (BLP 4123/BST 84123); pianist Horace Parlan (1931-2017) on Spur of The Moment (BLP 4074/BST 84074).  Three with organist Shirley Scott (1934-2002) who he was married to at the time, Never Let Me Go (BLP 4129/BST 84129); A Chip Off The Old Block (BLP 4150/BST 84150) and Common Touch (BST 84135).  One with pianist Horace Silver (1928-2014), Serenade To a Soul Sister (BLP 4277/BST 84277) and three with organist Jimmy Smith (1928-2005), Midnight Special (BLP 4078/BST 84078); Back at The Chicken Shack (BLP 4117/BST 84117) and Prayer Meetin’ (BLP 4164/BST 84164).

In his liner notes, noted author, jazz historian and journalist Ira Gitler offers one definition of the Blue Hour as that early morning time “when you reach across the pillow where your Baby used to lay” and find to find him (or her) there.  The sound on this LP is stunning, the remastering of Rudy Van Gelder’s original tapes by Record Technology Incorporated is also superb and the gatefold photos of each musician during the session compliments the music marvelously.  What I’ve found the album to be is nearly thirty-eight minutes of blissful jazz by Stanley Turrentine and The Three Sounds that adds weight to any jazzy library and is an LP you can enjoy at any time of the day, the evening or the early morning during the Blue Hour.

I Want a Little Girl, Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You, Since I Fell For You, Willow Weep For Me – Source: Wikipedia.com

Pianist Gene Harris – Source: www.musicmattersjazz.com 

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