Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Metropole Orchestra "in Blue"

You don't hear much bass trumpet in Jazz. 

After listening to Bart van Lier's beautiful playing on the instrument on the following video featuring Rob Pronk's arrangement of Horace Silver's Peace, one wonders why it isn't played more often. 

Our thanks to a very special friend for making many of the images used in the video montage available to the crackerjack graphics team at CerraJazz LTD and to the production facilities at SudioCerra for putting the music and the slides together. [Click on the "X" to close out of the ads when they appear.]

Friday, June 29, 2012

“Tom Talbert: A Different Voice”

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“The music of Tom Talbert is the essence of creative Jazz composition. Like all great artists, Talbert gains inspiration from his surroundings, both past and present, and molds it into his own musical voice. His music has been described as ‘a stylistic combination of Jazz, French Impressionism, abstraction and blowing.”
- Ken Poston, Director, Los Angeles Jazz Institute

“Since the mid-1940s, Tom Talbert has kept to his own path and his own vision, writing extraordinary music. Judged on talent and quality alone, he would be as well known a composer and arranger as Gil Evans, Bill Holman, Thad Jones and Bob Brookmeyer.”
- Doug Ramsey, Jazz author and critic

"A jazz classicist, schooled in the past, with a yen for the future, Tom Talbert is a romantic who shuns the cliché. He is a technician who trusts the heart. Even when he's being clever his notes are warm and tender."
- Budd Schulberg, writer and columnist

I’ve always had a fondness for rehearsal bands and over the years I’ve played in a great number of them.

A few of these were led by notable bandleaders, but the majority were assembled by composer-arrangers who were “amateurs” in the true, French meaning of that term.

Their main interest in running a rehearsal band was to have a vehicle in which to hear their arrangements, which, interestingly enough, is in line with the main reason why the great Duke Ellington maintained his own orchestra throughout his lifetime.

Because there is so little money involved, finding a time and place to rehearse and a group of musicians who can make it on a regular basis can be challenging. It also takes a few volunteers to copy all the parts for the arrangements.

Musicians play and interpret music differently, so it helps if the rehearsal band leader can keep at least a core or nucleus together and substitute around them.

The first trumpet and first alto chairs, lead trombone and rhythm section are the sources for most of the continuity in the “sound” of a big band arrangement and the “style” of the band itself.

Soloists obviously add a lot, too, but they are more interchangeable, because when someone gets up to blow, they are usually expressing their individualism and not that of the writer/leader of the band.

Some pretty talented arranger-composers have toiled in the relative obscurity of rehearsal bands.

A few of these rehearsal band leaders have become “discovered” and contracted with to write arrangements for well-known bands and vocalists .

Occasionally, they may even catch the ear of a producer who hires them to score an album of their own for a lesser known recording company.

One of the benefits of volunteering for rehearsal bands is that you often come across very different and even unconventional arrangements. It’s always fun to try and sound like the Basie Band or deal with the elaborate arrangements of Pete Rugolo and Stan Kenton or try to get into the light and airy feeling of the Thad Jones – Mel Lewis Orchestra, but nobody ever does it as well as the originals.

That’s why it’s enjoyable to play the original music and/or arrangements of a New Voice, a writer who takes your ears in a different direction.

Someone who fits this mold perfectly is Tom Talbert, a composer-arranger who began his career in this manner. Following the Second World War, he put together a series of rehearsal bands that were primarily based in Los Angeles.

He described how it all began in the insert notes to a CD that Sea Breeze issued which documents Tom’s music 1946-1949 [SB-2069]. It’s a very familiar and almost classic story of the evolution of a series of rehearsal bands under a then-unknown composer, arranger and leader.

“My first Los Angeles band began rehearsing in the spring of 1946.

I had been in the army and was discharged from a band at Fort Ord, California the summer before. I had no formal music schooling and the year I spent as chief arranger for a good army dance band was a major part of my education. Worked with several bands and met arranger-bandleader Johnny Richards in Boston. Moved to Los Angeles the winter of 1946 and was soon living at the Harvey Hotel...a musician's hangout fondly referred to as the Hot Harvey.

Before long Richards appeared and, in his generous manner, started looking for things I could do. He soon encouraged me to start a band and that seemed a logical move for an out-of-work twen­ty-one year old arranger. We started with a group of guys who wanted to play and as we rehearsed some were changed and others just left for a real job. The trumpet section of Lou Obergh, Ronnie Rochat and Frank Beach was very strong. Veteran Babe Russin brought his beautiful tone to the sax section.

Richards' brother, Jack Cascales, had a small label, Paramount Records, and he was also acting as my manager. (Last I ever had.) He wanted to record the band. The session at Radio Recorders Studio in June 1946 went very well and we, the orchestra and my arrangements, were out in the world.

I took a smaller group to a nice but miniature casino at Lake Tahoe for July and August. Back in Los Angeles that fall, we were rehearsing and working occasionally. I wrote Flight of the Vout Bug. It was recorded with a good band put together for the date and having the great Al Killian playing lead trumpet was a joy for me. Dodo Marmarosa was tops as my featured piano soloist.

When we went to Tahoe I hired a fine drummer, Dick Stanton. He would later introduce a num­ber of good, young players into the band who were Los Angelenos. Then, in the summer of 1947, I went on the road with Anita O'Day and wound up in New York.

Returning to Los Angeles I started rehearsing the band again. There was considerable arrang­ing work as another musician's union recording ban was imminent. We did some sessions for Paramount with singer Joan Barton that were used on television, lip-synched in early TV fashion. Although I was unhappy with the engineering, we did a good date early New Year's Eve to beat the ban and to record a couple of forgettable pop tunes for the company. We included my Love Is A Pleasure, then called Never Meant For Me.

The band continued to rehearse and play an occasional job during 1948. Warne Marsh and Steve White were the tenors when we played the Trianon Ballroom that April.

Early in 1949 I met Ed Nathan, a warm-hearted, erudite man who worked at CBS. Ed put a lot of effort into trying to get something going for the band but L.A. was not the place nor was it the propitious time in the business. We were playing some jobs, rehearsing weekly, and the band was very tight and up for some concerts at the Coronet Theatre that spring. Don Prell was on bass. Wes Hensel now played lead trumpet between Johnny Anderson and Johnny McComb, so that section was set.

Art Pepper's arrival in the band gave us a new voice. We hadn't had an improvising alto player before and, at the time, Art was already one of the greatest players around. Harry Betts joined John Haliburton in the trombone duo. El Koeling and Don Davidson were still playing lead alto and bari­tone saxophones. Jack Montrose and Johnny Barbera were the tenors.

Pianist Claude Williamson had just left Charlie Barnet and was often in the audience we regu­larly had at rehearsals. I had broken my arm in a fall from a horse, and Claude started playing with Prell and the lightly swinging Jimmy Pratt on drums. The final band was now in place.

Everyone was young and full of energy. I wrote new music for each rehearsal and Don Davidson copied it. (As Ronnie Rochat had done for the first band. What great friends!) The band was extremely faithful about rehearsal and job commitments and good natured with my demands on shading and intonation. As a group, they grew to play with confident authority. Plus, we liked each other and each other's playing. Twenty-six years later Art Pepper reflected, "They were all such nice guys."

So, in November 1949, I was back in Radio Recorders good studio where we had first recorded. I was sending acetate audition discs east to the recording companies where they were then judged not commercial. Perhaps that surprised only me. Bands were being canceled, not signed. But, we kept having .rehearsals. That winter, 1950, Stan Kenton decided to reorganize. Pepper and Betts went on the Innovations Orchestra and I was asked to write. We disbanded.

I followed the audition records east that spring.”

In what has to be considered a true labor-of-love, Bruce Talbot, who is always doing nice things for Jazz, put together a fascinating book about Tom and his music.

Bruce was born in Wellington, New Zealand, where, as a young radio producer in the late 1950s he first heard and was moved by Tom Talbert's music. Moving to London, England in 1963 he worked for the BBC in radio, television and record production before being invited, in 1991, to come to the U.S. as Executive Producer of the Smithsonian Collection of Recordings record label.

Bruce’s book is entitled Tom Talbert: His Life and Times: Voices From a Vanished World of Jazz, Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2004 | Series: Studies in Jazz (Book 45).

The following is a brief synopsis of the book.

"A jazz classicist, schooled in the past, with a yen for the future, Tom Talbert is a romantic who shuns the cliché. He is a technician who trusts the heart. Even when he's being clever his notes are warm and tender."

Budd Schulberg wrote these words in 1957. Almost 50 years later they still apply. A contemporary of Gerry Mulligan, Shorty
Rogers, Gil Evans, Bill Holman, and Ralph Burns, Tom Talbert is a composer, arranger, bandleader, and pianist. In the late 1940s he led his own big band in Los Angeles, featuring star artists like Art Pepper, Warne Marsh, and Claude Williamson. In New York in the 1950’s he wrote for Charlie Barnet, Buddy Rich, Claude Thornhill, Marian McPartland, Kai Winding, Machito, and conceived and scored some strikingly original jazz recordings that were issued under his own name.”

Tom Talbert returned to
Los Angeles in 1975 and has continued to record his own innovative, impressionistic, and subtly swinging music using the finest players, even to this day. In this account of his life and career, Bruce Talbot paints a vivid portrait of Tom Talbert and his world. Utilizing first-hand accounts, the book is crammed with memories of Los Angeles in the 40s, road tours of the Mid-West, a rare glimpse of the Twin Cities jazz scene during World War II, and a portrait of New York City in the 50s when it was truly the jazz capital of the world. The book includes a complete discography of Tom Talbert's work and a CD containing fourteen of his most important and representative recordings.

The editorial staff at JazzProfiles collected these Editorial Reviews to give you some additional perspectives on the significance of Tom Talbert’s music and Bruce’s book.

“He could have been as famous as Gil Evans or Quincy Jones. Certainly the talent was there in abundance. Instead, Tom Talbert remains one of jazz's most neglected figures, his unique arranging and composing abilities known only to the discerning few who listen to music based on its content rather than its name value. Expatriate New Zealander Bruce Talbot, formerly head of the BBC and Smithsonian record divisions, brings his own vast jazz knowledge and experience to this fascinating biography. In dealing with Tom Talbert's life and works he depicts the man against the backdrop of an equally neglected period of American music, that of the post-war experimental years of the late 1940s and early 1950s, where talent bloomed in the unlikeliest of places, flourished despite the awful conditions imposed on the traveling musicians, only to choke and die on the creeping blight known as rock 'n' roll. Truly a golden age that has been overlooked by jazz historians, here brought vividly to life again by the author.” (Brooks, Michael )

 “Since the mid-1940s, Tom Talbert has kept to his own path and his own vision, writing extraordinary music. Judged on talent and quality alone, he would be as well known a composer and arranger as Gil Evans, Bill Holman, Thad Jones and Bob Brookmeyer. In this fascinating biography, Bruce Talbot examines the circumstances and choices that have won Talbert the admiration of music insiders and left him a secret to most of the public. Talbot's book should do much to bring Talbert recognition he has long deserved.” (Doug Ramsey, Jazz Matters: Reflections on the Music )

“Bruce Talbot's edgy biography of an American Jazz original reads like a John dos Passos epic novel of America in the World War II and Post War years. Only it isn't a novel - it's the jazz life captured through the wide eyes of a young mid-western musician who was born to make his mark in jazz. Bruce Talbot turns in a dazzling writing performance - it's a very hip, very real, very full biography of a brilliant musician known until now as "the best kept secret in jazz'. Discover Tom Talbert and live life on the road, in the studios and in Jazz history.” (Dom Cerulli )

“This well researched book should bring belated recognition to one of the music's most neglected figures.” (Jazz Journal International )

“…not only a source of intrigue for the jazz enthusiast, but also fascinating for the average reader who may be unfamiliar with Talbert's quiet legacy. (International Musician)

“A fascinating view of this talented gentleman from the world of jazz. Beyond that, however, it also gives a perceptive insight into the various musical environments that formed Talbert's style, and the ways in which he contributed to the development of modern big band music. For those of you who just dig hearing inside stories from musicians, many of them full of humor, there is plenty of meat here for you. If you love delving more deeply into jazz history, you will also find great satisfaction in this volume.” (Jersey Jazz )

“Don't let the opportunity pass to learn more about [Talbert]. His is the stuff of real quality, and the Jazz world and anyone with an interest in composing and arranging should be made more aware of this fact.” (Jazz Now )

“There is an abundance of gorgeous writing and arranging on this disc, and combined with the book's many great stories, and its reevaluation of one of the music's great arrangers, this is truly one of the Jazz publishing events of the year.” (Cadence )

The following video tribute to Tom contains a sampling of his music with an audio track comprised of Shipping Out from his Louisiana Suite.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Larry Goldings – “Caminhos Cruzados”

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“With a decade [now, more two decades] of playing together under their belts, Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart must form one of the most long-lived organ trios in Jazz history.

Each member has amassed an imposing individual resume, during this period, yet their collective work has signified something more – a reaffirmation, not of the organ trio as a unit capable of satisfying a temporary fashion for things, but as an instrumentation as perfectly balanced in its way as the threesomes of piano, bass and drums or, in another realm, the string quartet.”
- Bob Blumenthal, 1999

The music and the musicians on Hammond B-3 organist Larry Goldings’ Caminhos Cruzados [loosely translated from the Portuguese as “crossings paths”] have always been among my favorites.

Recorded in 1993, the compact disc seemed to come out of nowhere because its Brazilian bossa nova tunes hadn’t been in vogue for many years.

Here’s Larry description of how the recording came about.

“A few years ago, I made an interesting discovery about my early childhood. I had gone home to Massachusetts to visit my parents and brought with me a recording of the Brazilian singer João Gilberto. I had recently been introduced to his music by Jon Hendricks, with whom I was working, and instantly became somewhat of a fanatic.

At some point that weekend, I decided to play the CD for my mother, who isn't normally interested in the music I listen to, but I had an in­stinctual feeling that she would like it. After his opening guitar introduction, João started singing, and almost immediately my mother's face lit up and she said, ‘Oh, I remember this !’ I was sur­prised by her reaction and asked, ‘You mean you used to own this record?’ ‘Yes,’ she replied, ‘I used to play it for you when you were a baby. It would always calm you down.’

This startling piece of information was quite a revelation to me. Could this, I thought, ex­plain why I am so moved by João Gilbert's voice? Could it be, that upon listening to him now I experience the same feelings of innocence and security that I felt as an infant, 25 years ago?

Well, Sigmund Freud might have been better equipped to answer these questions, but all I know is that the music of Brazil is very close to my heart, and it was a pleasure to prepare and re­cord this CD. It was also a special challenge because the Hammond organ is not often heard in Bra­zilian music, although interestingly one of the early pioneers of the bossa nova was in fact an organ­ist named Walter Wanderley.

On this CD, the focus is not so much on the organ itself, but on the jazz organ trio - that is, organ, guitar and drums. The other members comprising the trio are Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart, who are two of the most creative musicians playing today and have recorded with me on two other occasions. The group is augmented by the exceptional Brazilian per­cussionist Guilherme Franco, who, during the making of this CD had many insightful comments and suggestions that helped shape the music. Finally, listeners will be enchanted by the thoughtful play­ing of Joshua Redman.

While researching the material for this CD, I realized that there are many beautiful songs that have not been given the recognition they deserve. I discovered four such song among my João Gilberto records:  So Danco Samba, Ho-ha-la-la,  Avarandado, and the title track, Caminhos Cruzados. The latter, written by the prolific Antonio Carlos Jobim is perhaps my favorite on the CD. The composition is one of Jobim's most lyrical and is harmonically lush and unpredictable. Listen to Peter Bernstein's sublime statement of the melody, and the percussion accompaniment of Guilherme Franco, who, like Peter, is a master of taste. Among the other tracks are the obscure Menina-Moca. whose harmonic movement has a particularly "classical" sound, and the familiar Once I Loved, which is treated in a much slower, moodier manner than usual.

There are three selections that are not Brazilian songs at all, but naturally lend themselves to the bossa nova feeling. They are: Where or When, Una Mas, and Serenata, on which the band could not resist the urge to swing the solos. One of the two sambas on the CD, Manine, is my own composition. Featured here is the exciting interplay between Guilherme (on the cuica) and Bill Stewart. Words is also my composition, and was inspired by a Chopin mazurka. It is a perfect vehicle for Joshua Redman, who displays his ability to interpret a ballad with finesse and a hint of the blues.

I must admit that I have never visited Brazil. I feel, however, as if I have, because as I recently discovered, the first musical sounds I ever heard were those of Brazil. Although I doubt that I was actually "listening" to my mother's João Gilberto record, (as I was only 1 or 2 years old), his voice, and the harmonies and rhythms of his guitar, were seeping into my subconscious, planting the seeds that would later become my love of music.

- written by Larry Goldings”

To give you some idea of the wonderful music on offer on Caminhos Cruzados, the editorial staff at JazzProfiles in conjunction with the crackerjack graphics team at CerraJazz and the production facilities of StudioCerra have developed the following video and audio tracks for you to sample.

We hope that you will enjoy this in-depth presentation of classic Brazilian bossa nova by some of today’s most accomplished Jazz musicians.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Eric Ineke: The Ultimate Sideman - A Review

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“This is really a history of Jazz, especially in the second half of the 20th century when so many of the original masters were still active.”
-         Dave Liebman, Jazz saxophonist and composer

Each explanation that Eric gives is like he plays: lucid, to the point and very precise.
And swinging, of course!”
-         Wouter Turkenburg, Head of the Jazz Department, Royal Conservatoire, The Hague, The Netherlands

“Another of our favorite drummers playing in the style of Philly Joe Jones is Eric Ineke.

Eric is based in Holland and we first heard his work on a 1981 Criss Cross recording by the late Jazz guitarist, Jimmy Raney, and subsequently on recordings by Dutch Jazz pianist Rein de Graaff, alto saxophonist Herb Geller, who has been based in Germany for many years, and soprano saxophonist David Liebman.

Eric keeps time in a manner that is best described as Philly Joe Jones-lite.

Like Philly, his time-keeping is very insistent, but his accents, background figures and fills are more spaced-out.

He’s not as busy as Philly which serves to make his time-keeping sound even more firm and resolute.

Since 2006, Eric has been leading his own quintet, The JazzXpress, in which his driving time-keeping can be heard in support of some of Holland’s finest, young Jazz musicians: Rik Mol on trumpet and flugelhorn, Sjoerd Dijkhuizen on tenor saxophone, Rob van Bavel on piano and bassist and bass guitarist, Marius Betts.”
-         The editorial staff of JazzProfiles, 2/22/2011

Just to be clear, Eric Ineke: The Ultimate Sideman is the name of a book.

It is also an apt description of Eric Ineke, a Dutch drummer who, since 1968, has performed with many legendary Jazz musicians.

The format of the book is based around Eric’s recollection of his experiences with these Jazz masters as told to the American saxophonist and composer, Dave Liebman.

Dave adds his own commentary in places, but the book is essentially Eric’s story as told to Dave because as Liebman notes: “Eric’s memory is flawless and seemingly photographic.  His detailed recounting of time and place are incredible.”

Jazz horn players [in the broadest sense], whose orientation to the music is based on melody and harmony, can have a difficult time working with drummers, because although drummers can be “melodic” [think Shelly Manne], their involvement is primarily with rhythm.

Therein lays the rub.

The melody and harmony guys are often of the opinion that Jazz drummers are not aware of what they have to deal with to make the music happen.

If a drummer is too forceful, too loud, too busy; they can become distracting to horn players [including pianists, guitarists and vibraphonists] and make it difficult for them to concentrate on their improvisations or their ability to play the arrangements.

Sometimes drummers rush or drop [lag] the beat or even override it to push the music in a direction the soloist doesn’t want to go.

They may use cymbals that are not “harmonic;” the overtones don’t blend in well with the other instruments.

There are some drummers who absolutely aver the use of brushes [mainly because they don’t know how to play them] while preferring instead the use of drum sticks at all times: nothing like a few “bombs” going off in the middle of a quiet, bossa nova.

Some drummers are in love with their techniques. I mean, after all those hours of practicing those drum rudiments, you gotta show people what you got, right?

Or then there is the drummer who shows up to a trio gig with a veritable arsenal of cymbals and drums all set up in such a way so that they can cut through big band volume levels. Talk about overplaying!

Because they can be disproportionately domineering, when it all goes wrong for a drummer, they can really irritate other Jazz musicians.

And then there are drummers like Eric Ineke who always seem to fit in, whatever the musical context: hence the terms of respect and endearment – “The Ultimate Sideman” – being accorded to him by many of his fellow Jazz musicians.

For a drummer, being considered in this manner doesn’t just happen. You have to work at it and earn such praise.

Such an appellation is based on merit.

As a drummer, Eric is always listening, always trying to find ways to unobtrusively swing.  He plays what the music calls for. His first choices are always based on enhancing the expression of the music by working closely with the other musicians in the band.

Eric has “chops” [technique], but doesn’t choose to show them off. He knows he can get around the instrument, but he’s not trying to impress anyone with flashiness.

Eric is the prototypical “engine house;” his drums set things in motion. When you listen to the sound of his drums, it’s like listening to the smooth blend of a quietly humming motor. The engine just purrs along and so does the music when Eric’s in the drum chair.

When called for, he can also “gun the engine,” what he refers to as “… kicking the soloist in the a**,” or throttle back on the engine, which he does to help things settle into a groove.

He’s always thinking back there, always aware of how things need to sound for different tenor saxophonist like Joe Henderson, or Dexter Gordon, or Hank Mobley, or how best to have a “conversation” with an instrumentalist while trading “fours” and “eights” with them, or even what bad habits or tendencies in the playing of others he might need to disregard in order to keep the music honest and swinging.

What comes across throughout this book is how constantly aware Eric is of what he is doing in the drum chair and how articulate he is in explaining it.

The book is a document of oral history, but doesn’t read like one. Each chapter is in two parts with Eric laying the groundwork by sharing his reminiscences and observations about the Jazz musicians he’s worked with over the years which are grouped around the Tenor, Alto and Baritone Saxes; the Clarinetists, the Trumpet Players and Trombonists; the Guitarists, Vibraphonists, Pianists and Bassists; The Singers; The Composer-Arranger-Conductors.

The second part of each chapter consists of Dave Liebman interviewing Eric with questions drawn for Ineke’s comments about certain of the Jazz musicians mentioned in each of the instrumental categories.

The opening Preface is written by Wouter Turkenburg who hired Eric to chair the Jazz Drums and Percussion Department, of the Royal Conservatoire, The Hague, in The Netherlands when he took over as Head of Jazz Studies at the school in the mid-1980’s.

Wouter sets the tone for the entire book when he writes: “Eric has an immense knowledge and understanding of music. Moreover, he is a great teacher and he can demonstrate it all on his drum set. When Eric talks about music, you hear the music and you’re in it. Eric connects the presents to the past and to the future.”

The book has two Introductions, each of which is a brief testimonial to Eric’s greatness as a Jazz musician.

The first is by Dave Liebman who authored the work and the second is by Eric’s long-time musical companion on the Dutch and European Jazz scene – pianist, Rein de Graaff.

Dave sets the context for the book when he explains in his opening remarks that –

“Of all the rhythm section instruments, the drums are the most difficult to learn from books and even records. With drums, you have TO BE THERE … one has to see and feel the music, more so than for other instruments whose techniques could more easily be assimilated by studying available recordings which was the customary method for European musicians learning the music.

After all, this was pre-Jazz Education time in Europe. To put it succinctly: finding a drummer who could ‘swing’ could be problematic. …

Jazz is not an automatic pilot art form … the personality and the music is the same. Eric Ineke fills the bill perfectly. To put it succinctly, he was and is THE UTLIMATE SIDEMAN.

If there is one comment that musicians like myself use to describe Eric it is that he SWINGS … HARD!!

Eric has studied the drum language handed down from Klook [Kenny Clarke] to Max to Roy to Elvin and Tony.

Adding his own personality and musicianship to this encyclopedic knowledge translate to what I describe as a feeling of buoyancy when Eric plays, even beyond mere swinging.

His musical personality along with a positive and uplifting persona puts anyone playing with him at ease.

Plus he WILL show up at the airport and get you to the hotel or gig or recording, etc. Eric is a sweet man who can really play … what more could you ask for?!!”

As for Rein de Graaff, Eric’s long-time running mate, he puts things very succinctly in his part of the book’s Introduction when he declares:

“Playing with Eric never has a dull moment and he is always giving his utmost. There are moments when I can really play everything that’s in my head thanks to him. Sometimes I feel like jumpin’ off a cliff but knowing that he’s always there to catch me. He inspires me constantly with his rhythmical inventions.

The best moments are when we start to play freely ‘around the beat.’ Then it is really happening. It is like flying!

In this world of fake Jazz, it’s good to have people like him; always telling the truth on his instrument; always playing the real thing.”

Eric Ineke: The Ultimate Sideman was recently published in April/2012 in a paperback folio edition by Pincio Uitgeverij of The Netherlands and you can obtain information on purchasing it from Eric at, or Dave at or by writing to

Among the musicians that Eric discusses in this book are Hank Mobley, Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin, George Coleman, Al Cohn, Eric Alexander, Pete Christlieb, Bob Cooper, Lucky Thompson, Clifford Jordan, Teddy Edward, Frank Foster, Joe Henderson, Scott Hamilton, David Liebman, Harry Sokal, Alan Skidmore, Ferdinand Povel, Sjoerd Dijkhuizen, and Simon Rigter – and that’s just the tenor saxophone players!

Others include alto saxophonists, Lee Konitz, Bud Shank, Herb Geller and Benjamin Herman; baritone saxophonists Pepper Adams, Ronnie Cuber and Nick Brignola; clarinetists Buddy DeFranco, Eddie Daniels, and John Ruocco; trumpet players Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, Jarmo Hoogendijk and Conte Candoli; trombonists Urbie Green, Slide Hampton, Curtis Fuller and Bart van Lier; guitarists Jimmy Raney, Wim Overgaauw, Jesse van Ruller, and Martijn Iterson; pianists Barry Harris, Don Friedman, Tete Monteliu, and, of course, Rein de Graaff; bassists John Clayton, Marius Beets, Ruud Jacob and Jacques Schols; vibraphonists Dave Pike, Red Norvo and Frits Landesbergen; singers Anita O’Day, Deborah Brown and Shirley Horn.

Many of the descriptions by Eric and Dave offer an inside-the music perspective that make you think differently about what goes into the making of Jazz.

Here are some anecdotal excerpts from Eric Ineke: The Ultimate Sideman.

Dave Pike:

“‘David Samuel Pike, the Master of the Vibes,’ as Rein de Graaff would announce him … is a super swinging and a real great bebop player. He is a very emotional player and he sometimes has a tendency to rush, so we try to take care of this in a very unobtrusive way.”

Buddy De Franco

“As soon as we got on stage you felt immediately that you were dealing with a great artist. There was that beautiful round almost wooden sound and that flawless, perfect technical command, great articulation, swing and super-fluent bebop lines.

Although his time was in front of the beat, I could deal with it easily, because it was so smooth and relaxed.

It always surprises me that the person you know from hearing on records feels more or less the same when you are playing with them on stage.”

Eric Alexander

“His influences were clearly Dexter Gordon and George Coleman and Trane [John Coltrane], so knowing the first two, I was on familiar ground.

His sound and phrasing are super clear, great chops, energy and [always] swinging.

There is no doubt that if he keeps developing he will become on of the real great tenor players. …

He has that special ‘New York vibe:’ no bullsh**, just hit it from beat one.

That’s what I miss in most European players. It takes them almost a whole set to get on that same level.”

Scott Hamilton

“His style of playing comes right out of Lester Young and Al Cohn. Since I played with Al it was the same kind of looseness only even more relaxed. …

And, of course, his ballad playing is exquisite with that beautiful sound like Ben Webster.

He has a choice of the best standards and he knows so many tunes. The audience loves him. As a person he is also a real gentleman; a good conversationalist; so easy to travel with. He is American, but he could as well have been British.”

Bud Shank

“West Coast wailer, but the way he played he could be from New York, beyond category so to speak. Bud was special to me. I liked his no nonsense straight forward attitude.

He was not the type of person you could make easy contact with, but it always felt o.k.

He was a very melodic swinger, always looking for interplay. We sometime did drums and alto duets and he was always listening to the drums; he liked the melodic way I played with him. He said to me ‘you are something else.’”

Benjamin Herman

“Not to mention Benjamin Herman is totally unthinkable. He is from the younger generation and I think one of the best alto players around. … A real no nonsense Jazz player who is able to work in all kinds of funky situations. … He is also a smart businessman and always impeccably dressed. …

He knows how to play the blues … his phrasing is a little behind the beat, and sometimes even a lot, like Dexter’s [Gordon], which makes it all the more swinging.

He always plays on a high level, but when you kick his a** firmly he starts flying and really plays some sh**.”

There is no other book like Eric Ineke: The Ultimate Sideman.

Its point-of-view is singular; no one has ever seen the Jazz world like this and no one will ever see it like this again.

In addition to the pleasure of its stories and recollections, reading Eric Ineke: The Ultimate Sideman also provides a basis for a fuller appreciation and understanding of how The Act of Jazz Creation comes into existence.

Our thanks to Eric and David for creating such a wonderful reading experience.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Jazz Makers

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Columbia Records released The Jazz Makers in 1957 as a vinyl LP [CL 1036] in conjunction with a book of the same title which was edited by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff. I don’t think the music on the album was ever issued in a digital format,

With the exception of vocalist Bessie Smith, bandleader, composer-arranger, Fletcher Henderson and guitarist Charlie Christian, all of the twenty-one seminal figures represented on this tandem Jazz retrospective were still actively performing in 1957.

Here’s some background on the evolution of this concept from the liner notes to the LP. 

“Early in 1957, nine of America's best-known writers on jazz met in peaceful conclave (an ac­complishment in itself) to discuss the putting together of a new book about the makers of America's most vital native music. The easy part of the meeting had to do with conjuring up a title. Charles Edward Smith, co-editor of "Jazzmen," suggested "The Jazz Makers" and that, succinctly, was that.

The tough part was agreeing upon just twenty-one of the hundreds of musicians who had contributed most to the de­velopment of jazz. The idea was to pool the extensive knowledge and critical experience of the group in an attempt to produce fresh bio­graphical appraisals of the most important jazz figures of our time, utilizing all of the new ma­terial that has come to light about jazzmen and jazz history in these recent, fertile years of research, scholarship and analysis.

After much discussion (and some liquid refresh­ment), during which studies of several deserving musicians (because of space limitations) had to be omitted, the final group was decided upon, writers assigned, and a book—and this record— were born.

"The Jazz Makers," which is being published by Rinehart and Company simultaneously with the issuing of this recording, is edited by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff whose "oral history of jazz," Hear Me Talkin' to Ya, has achieved the status of a minor classic on the subject. The con­tributors, aside from the two Nats, also include such notable odd-balls and experts as George Avakian, Leonard Feather, John S. Wilson, Orrin Keepnews, Charles Edward Smith, George Hoefer, and Bill Simon. The twenty-one musi­cians chosen by this august critics' circle were Jelly Roll Morton, Baby Dodds, Louis Arm­strong, Lester Young, Roy Eldridge, Duke El­lington, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Art Tatum, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Charlie Christian, Bix Beiderbecke, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Jack Teagarden, Pee Wee Russell, Fletcher Henderson, Fats Waller and Earl Hines.

Since most, if not all, of these great men and women of jazz have at some time been represented in the vast Columbia catalog, the occasion of the publication of this new and important book seemed an excellent opportunity to dig into our treasure-trove of musical riches for recorded examples of many of these musicians' representa­tive performances. Presented here are twelve selections long cherished by record collectors and available on long-playing records for the first time. …

These are several of the jazz makers. They are men and women for whom jazz became a natural way of self-fulfillment, self-expression, and a totally engaged way of life. In turn, in the impact of their own originality, they became part of the jazz language itself, a form of immortality vouch­safed to very, very few.”

The audio track of trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie performing I Can’t Get Started on the following video tribute to The Jazz Makers provides a sampling of the music on the recording about which the liner notes observe:

“In the early days of modern jazz, the guerrilla warfare period, it was not always noted by even the appreciators of Dizzy Gillespie that he pos­sessed a serious lyrical temperament as well as the more familiar fiery daring and quixotic wit. A record which surprised and delighted supporters and quondam Gillespie detractors was this Gillespie interpretation of I Can't Get Started, recorded in 1945 with Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet); Trummy Young (trombone); Don Byas (tenor sax); Clyde Hart (piano); Oscar Pettiford (bass); and Shelley Manne (drums).”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Barney, Ray and Shelly

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Guitarist Barney Kessel, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne helped me to come of age in Jazz.

Initially through the series of “Poll Winner” recordings they made under the auspices of Les Koenig at Contemporary Records and later through professional associations and personal friendships, Barney, Ray and Shelly made endearing and enduring impressions on me and on my life.

The editorial staff at JazzProfiles thought it might be fun to revisit their work, so along with the crackerjack graphics team at CerraJazz LTD and the production facilities of StudioCerra, it put together the following video tribute featuring Barney, Ray and Shelly working out on Duke Jordan’s Jordu.

Here are some thoughts about what made Barney, Ray and Shelly such special players and people as excerpted from Nat Hentoff’s insert notes to The Poll Winners [Contemporary S-7535; OJCCD-156-2].

© -Nat Hentoff, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

The reason for the alfresco exuberance of the Maypole wielders on the cover of this album is that all three won all three of the major American jazz popularity polls for 1956 — Down Beat, Metronome and Playboy.

While the election to these non-posthumous Valhalla’s is evidently quite gratifying, I expect that these three musicians are also deeply heartened by the sure knowledge that this re­spect and appreciation for their skills and souls is shared by the most exacting of all jazz audiences, their fellow jazzmen. Barney, Shelly and Ray cut through the lines of style, age and temperament. They are dug by jazzmen of all persuasions, because they in turn have not limited themselves to any one county of jazz. They're in place almost anywhere in the whole pleasure dome. …

Barney's strength, blues-blood, and sensitivity to others' musical needs as well as his own. Shelly's command of the drum as a thorough instrument, not just as a time-keeping device; his presence when needed as a third voice and the unobtrusiveness of his presence when that quality too is required. Ray for the fullness, firmness and tightness of his voice; his power, which propels when it's only suggested; and the flame, like his colleagues', of the perennial ‘amateur de jazz.’

The music in this set is primarily conversational, and it is conversation between three spirits with much in common in terms of life-view and way of living as well as music.

It is a conversation between experts whose knowledge has gone so far that they can never now regard themselves as experts, knowing not what they'll discover next time they talk.

And it's a conversation essentially for kicks, the kicks that come best and most frequently when you talk with your peers and are thereby in no need to worry whether your quick allusion will be picked up or whether you'll goof a spiral reference. It's not often that we amateurs, literally as well as French-figuratively, have a chance to hear this much of this kind of talk.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Victor and Tom "Love Lucy"

Hold onto your hat when this one hits 0:58 minutes. Victor Feldman on piano and Tom Scott on tenor saxophone are joined by Chuck Domanico on bass and Johnny Guerin on drums. Recorded live at "Donte's" in the mid-1970s.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Meet The Itchy Fingers Saxophone Quartet

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

You won’t believe your ears!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Peter Bernstein/Larry Goldings/Bill Stewart- "Dragonfly"

The Beautiful Sound of Buddy Childers

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Lead players, those who perform the principal line/melody in a big band, rarely get much notice or attention from the broader Jazz audience.

There is usually one in each section of a big band – trumpets, reeds and trombones – and “in addition to playing the high part, the lead player decides matters of phrasing and articulation for the section as a whole. Lead playing is a specialty requiring particular skills, and lead players are frequently not as adept at improvisation as others in their sections.” [Robert Witmer, The New Grove Encyclopedia of Jazz].

There are of course exceptions to this last point , but even in Randy Sandke’s excellent essay on The Trumpet in Jazz in Bill Kirchner, ed., The Oxford Companion to Jazz,, lead players such as Maynard Ferguson, Cat Anderson, and Ernie Royal are mentioned more because of their prowess as section leaders and their ability to hit stratospheric high notes, rather than as soloists who have contributed as one of the instrument’s stylists.

Thanks to a friend in southern Oregon, the editorial staff at JazzProfiles doesn’t miss much in the way of what’s going on in the world of Jazz trumpet.

As a result, and with special thanks to him, we learned that trumpeter and flugelhorn player, Buddy Childers, became a triple threat over the years: lead player, soloist and, ultimately, big band leader where his skills were on display in both capacities.

Interestingly, as Harvey Siders explains in the following segment from his insert notes to Just Buddy’s CD [Trend/Discovery[TRCD-539], Buddy’s first big band under his own leadership didn’t happen until he had been in the business almost 30 years.

“You can take a trumpet player out of a big band, but you can't take the big band out of the trumpet player. Case in point, Buddy Childers, whose trumpet and flugelhorn skills have graced or goosed many a big band: Count Baste, Woody Herman, Benny Goodman, Quincy Jones, Benny Carter, Char­lie Barnet, Georgie Auld, Clare Fischer, Bob Florence, Frank DeVol, Les Brown, and above all, Stan Kenton.

How many musicians can boast of beginning a career by breezing through an audition with Stan Kenton? Childers can.

He left high school in Chicago at age 16 and latched on to the father image of Stan the Man. This was dur­ing World War II, when Uncle Sam was depleting the ranks of the big bands. Buddy claimed there was one thing in his favor when he passed the audition so easily: ‘They knew I couldn't be drafted for a couple of years. The army couldn't touch me.’

Misplaced modesty. Even then there were few trumpeters who could touch him, how else could he explain accumulating eleven years with the Kenton band whose complicated, demanding charts separated the men from the boys - and often separated the men from their chops!

What separated Childers from his life-long ambition to form his own big band was a series of activities that tend to rob the talented of their most pre­cious commodity: time. In Childers' case, they included playing with many bands and combos, writing for so many of them, becoming involved with photography as a full-time occupation, and his obsession with flying. (Childers has been a licensed pilot for nearly 40 years.)

All those time-stealing detours also kept Buddy from issuing his first album as a band leader. (He did front quartet and quintet albums in the 50s.) He had to leave Los Angeles -- his adopted home since 1943 - to do that.  In 1983, Childers moved back to Chicago, formed a band of dedicated, like-minded swingers, played at a dub every Monday night for over a year, in the process gathering material for what is now in this jacket.”

Buddy eventually moved back to Los Angeles where he led his own big band until his passing in 2007.

Along the way, hhe made a beautiful recording with composer-arranger Russ Garcia that really showcased his talents as a soloist.

The recording is entitled Buddy Childers with the Russ Garcia Strings and on it Buddy displays the fluid facility that is a characteristic found in the work of many of the more widely recognized Jazz trumpet soloists.

What isn’t often heard in the solo work of others is the beautiful, “legit” sound that Buddy gets on the horn, his precise execution of the technical aspects of playing the instrument, and the complete command of breath control that allows him to play long phrases and embellishments with ease.

If you will forgive the play on words, Buddy was certainly The Man when it came to The Horn, whether it was the lead or the solo chair.

After listening to Buddy’s beautiful sound it’s no wonder that the clarion call of the angels was Gabriel’s “trumpet.”

Here’s a video tribute to Buddy that features him performing Matt Dennis’ Angel Eyes from the Buddy Childers with the Russ Garcia Strings CD.