Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wycliffe Gordon - "Sing It First" [From the Archives]

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

Gordon’s albums [on Nagel-Heyer and Criss Cross] are a step in the direction of pushing the trombone forward into contemporary prominence. [His solos] … are a harmonious mix of sharp improvising and daring high-jinks. … Gordon not only leads from the front, but he imparts heroic good humor to go with the crackling invention of his playing ….”
- Richard Cook and Brian Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 6th ED.

“Gordon’s tonal personality encompasses raw tailgate vocalizations from early 20th century New Orleans Brass Bands, the capacious tonal palette of Ellingtonia, the instrumental facility of J.J. Johnston and Frank Rosolino, even the multiphonic innovations of German pioneer Albert Mangelsdorff, but his sound is consistently identifiable as his, very note imbued with its own character.”
- Ted Panken

“I heard Wynton Marsalis’ Septet before I joined it The level of musicality was pretty stupefying. The guys in the band were improvisors and masters of their instruments. When I left college from Florida A&M and started playing with Wynton, the first year and a half in the band, I had to get my playing together.

Wynton and the guys motivated me to get to higher levels. Wynton exemplified greatness. When you're on stage and you hear someone like that, you have to decide if you want to do that yourself, or if you want to simply witness someone doing that. I wanted to do it, so I became like a sponge, and strived to play at the level. I always tell students I encounter, "Stay around people who play better than you — that's how you get better." You either take it seriously and remain where are you get to work and make it happen. To be around cats playing at the level made me want to achieve that.”
- Wycliffe Gordon

Wycliffe Gordon is one heckuva trombone player. He would have been a standout player in any era of Jazz and certainly is in the present one.

As a performer, educator, conductor, composer, arranger, Gordon has developed an impressive musical career, regularly touring the world, performing a variety of jazz and blues styles for audiences ranging from heads of state to elementary school kids. He was a veteran member of the Wynton Marsalis Septet and the renowned New York big band collective the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra — a versatile ensemble comprised of skillful and expressive jazz soloists and ensemble players. He was also a featured guest artist on Billy Taylor's "Jazz at the Kennedy Center" series. Gordon has been especially active gigging at clubs in between playing concerts across the globe, conducting clinics, and collaborating with other composers and musicians.

Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon talks about his new book and teaching approach, called "Sing It First." This "In Person with JazzTimes" interview was done aboard the MS Westerdam during the Jazz Cruise 2012. A longtime regular on the Jazz Cruise, Gordon performed as an All-Star in various configurations. Interview by Irene Lee. Video by Lee Mergner. Footage shot on Canon EOS 5D Mark.

The following video will provide you with a sampling of Wycliffe’s considerable skills and gifts on the trombone. The tune is his original Spop on which he is joined by fellow trombonist and fellow Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra section mate, Andre Hayward working with a rhythm section of Mike LeDonne, John Webber and Kenny Washington on piano, bass and drums, respectively.

Spop is “... medium-up quasi-riff blues … that takes it title from Andre Hayward’s onomatopoetic emulation of Kenny Washington’s rim shot in the beginning of of the fifth bar of the melody.” Wycillfe takes the muted ‘bone solo.

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