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“When I moved to LA in 1960 from Newark I wanted to transfer my Union card to Local 47 and the rule was you couldn’t work for 6 months. They didn’t want guys coming from out of town, taking work from LA cats then splitting. I had a record shop in NJ and knew the record business well. Artists, labels, album numbers etc.
[At Music City], I would wait on three customers for one of the other salesmen. After a couple of weeks Clyde Wallichs who was the owner and also [one of] the owner[s] of Capitol Records said “You really know the record business, how would you like to be night manager “
It was great because I hung at the union all day and jammed and rehearsed with cats and the result was my gig with Stan Kenton. I got a call from the contractor who said Stan needed a bass player, you interested. I asked if I had to audition. and he said no they know about you the job is yours if you want it. Nine months and three LP’s later I quit the band. I was 25 years old.
I also met Herb Alpert at Music City.”
When Herb formed the Tijuana Brass I was the bassist in that group from 1965-1970 which included a command performance for Queen Elizabeth one at the White House for President Johnson and also one for the President of Mexico.”
- Pat Senatore to JazzProfiles
And now here we are some sixty years later, Pat has taken up residence in Rome and his close friend Jordi Pujol owner-operator of Fresh Sound Records has released two recordings under Pat’s leadership.
Although both were recorded over an eight year period from 2008 to 2016, the music sounds as “fresh” as though it happened yesterday. Perhaps this is due in part to the timeless quality of Pat’s artistry.
After listening to the music on these CDs, I’ve no doubt that the company he keeps on them served to inspire him and ensured that his creative skills are still, in a word, ascending.
The first of these Fresh Sound CD’s is entitled Ascensione: The Pat Senatore Trio [FSR CD 5051] and features him with two relative newcomers to Jazz performance: pianist John Nelson and drummer Mark Ferber. You can locate order information via this link.
Pat wrote the insert notes to both recordings so let’s have him provide the “interview” that explains how the music came about and what he sees as being special about the musicians and the music on them.
The first time I played with Josh Nelson and Mark Ferber, I knew they were special. After a career of playing with some of the best in the business — too many to mention here but a few great ones like Joe Pass, Joe Henderson, Eddie Harris, Joe Farrell, Freddie Hubbard, Cedar Walton, Alan Broadbent, George Cables, Billy Higgins, Carmen McRae, Peggy Lee, Anita O'Day — I knew it would be fun to record with them.
Both of them could be my sons and you know how hard it can be to communicate with your children. Yet when I play with these guys, it's timeless. I benefit from their musical youth and I hope they benefit from my many years of playing with greats. I know they like to hear my stories. They make me feel connected to my younger self.
There was a long interval between the two sessions we did and time for us to evolve even further after the many times we played together. Never rehearsed. Just spontaneous playing, much like I did at my club, Pasquale's, and at Vibrato with all the famous players that have played there.
Jazz to me is the now. Each time you play is a different experience, and at the worst, it is superb. It's a form of communication like no other, and unless you've done it, there's no way to explain the feeling of being in the moment. I think that's why we make the commitment to this music. The passion, the hours of practice, and all the other sacrifices we make are rewarded when we walk off the bandstand and people are touched by what we play. They feel the intensity. The groove as we call it. This is the ultimate reward and what keeps us addicted to the devotion of reaching the supreme high of being in the zone. This is why so many of my peers literally continue to play until they leave this planet and hope to continue in the hereafter. How lucky we are to have this form of expression. It's unique.
As for the music on this CD, we opened and closed with two compositions by the late Michel Petrucciani, one of the most exceptional musicians I have known in my life. Sahara and The Prayer are two examples of his beautiful soul.
Con Alma is one of Dizzy's most famous tunes. It features a drum solo by Mark, then a fugue by piano and bass that opens into Josh's solo.
A Change in the Wind by Josh Nelson is an example of the extent of his development as a composer, among his many musical talents. In his piano solo you become aware of his classical chops as well as his writing skill.
Positano Blues is a tune we used to warm up, "Let's play a blues." This tune evolved after I returned from a vacation in Positano, one of the most beautiful places on earth. While the name may seem like an oxymoron, it shows you can have the blues anywhere.
Next is my tune Ascensione. Josh and Mark nailed this tune the first time we played it. One take. Why mess with it? While writing this tune, the melody kept reaching higher and I felt a sense of ascending—thus "ascensione."
Minority by Gigi Gryce starts out as a vibe. We don't play the melody. Josh starts blowing and we support him on his journey Finally in the last chorus we state the melody with Josh's reharmonization that takes the tune to another place. I loved his creation.
Night Dreamer is by Wayne Shorter, the only true genius I can say I've known in my life so far. We both grew up in Newark, NJ, a few blocks from each other and went to grammar school and to Arts High School together, where we were both Music and Art majors. There's no way I could do a CD without one of his tunes. I could have picked anyone and it would have been the best on the CD.
We played All the Things You Are in 3/4. It's a different feel — more spacey and open.
We closed with Michel's The Prayer. I hope this CD is uplifting, an "Ascensione" and I pray that you enjoy this CD and jazz forever.”
The second of Pat’s Fresh Sound CD’s is entitled Inspirations: The Pat Senatore Trio [FSR CD 5057] and you can locate order information via this link.
Inspirations: "A divine Influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul."
All the people associated with this project are and have been inspirations to me.
Tom Ranier: A consummate musician who can do it all: play, compose, orchestrate. He's a master accompanist to singers—a lost art. Just recently, he added Seth Mac-Farlane and Tony Bennett to his long list of credits. But most of all, he's a great jazz musician. He plays piano, clarinet (his first instrument), tenor sax, and bass clarinet, as you can hear on The Duke.
Every time I play with Tom, we inspire each other to experiment with different harmonies and we look at each other and smile. "Yeah, that works!" It's fresh, spontaneous, and from beat one there's never a doubt where the groove is. To me that's the most important thing in playing jazz. If it doesn't feel good, why do it? As I get older, I realize that every time you play is very special. Time is limited, so I use it preciously. When we were recording, I asked Tom to let his beautiful soul be more on display. He responded eloquently. Miyako, Song of the Jet are two inspiring examples.
Christian Euman: A young drummer that Tom and I heard about and hired to play with us at Vibrato [Jazz Club]. After the first eight bars, we looked at each other and smiled. He felt really good. We were both inspired and knew we wanted to record with him. He'd just graduated from The Monk Institute, and is on his way to being one of the most in-demand jazz drummers on the LA. scene.
Larry Koonse: Larry and I have played together many times with different cats and it's always been a positive experience. His melodic harmonic and rhythmic concept has always been inspiring to me. After doing Laura, Herb and I decided that it would be fun to do Georgia on My Mind with nylon string guitar. The obvious choice was Larry and it's a great track.
Herb Alpert: What can I say about Herb? He has inspired me since I first met him in 1960.1 had just moved here from Newark, NJ. In order to transfer my Musician's Union Card from Local 16 to Local 47 in L.A., I had to establish residence here for six months before I could work. Since I had my own record shop in Kearney, NJ, I knew the record business so I got a job at Wallich's Music City on Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street, owned by Clyde Wallichs, who also [was an] owner in Capitol Records. (A year later, I recorded three albums with Stan Kenton in the renowned Studio A at Capitol after nine months on the road with his band.)
Herb used to come into Wallich's Music City about once a week to buy sheet music for the top 10 songs of the day. One day, I asked him if he was a player and he said, “Yes, I play the trumpet." So, I said, "I play base, here's my number. If you ever need a bass player, give me a call." The rest is history]. Millions of record sales, command performances for President Johnson, Queen Elizabeth II, party with the Beatles, many TV shows, world tours—all with his Tijuana Brass [from 1965-1970].
In my opinion, his playing on this CD is some of his best work. Thanks Herb!
Jordi Pujol: The owner of Fresh Sound Records, is one of my favorite people. Jordi inspires me with his passion for jazz. He has released over 3,000 CDs on his label. Being a trumpet player and an admirer of Herb Alpert, he asked if Herb would play on the CD. He said, "I'd love to have Herb on my label." I said, "It's a long shot, but I'll ask."
Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie, Wayne Shorter, Wes Montgomery, David Raksin, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Dave Brubeck, Bill Evans, Hoagy Carmicbael, Miles Davis, Henry Mancini. If these guys don't inspire you, your heart is not beating — check it immediately.
Anthropology — I got to play with Dizzy at the Monterey Jazz Festival when I was with Buddy Rich and Dizzy sat in with us. I got to see Bird live once, right before he died. I'm glad that I got to see the man who created bebop.
Miyako — Wayne and I went to school together in Newark, NJ and have been friends ever since. I would never do a project without one of his tunes. He ia a true genius and a constant inspiration to me.
Road Song — I met Wes when he guested on a T.J.B special. His unique style of picking with his thumb made his sound immediately recognizable. It's a good tune to get a groove on—like any of his tunes.
Laura — In my many years of playing, I found that whenever there was a lull in the audience's response to what we were doing, I would call Laura and we would get their attention right away. It's been one of my favorite tunes ever since I saw the movie, "Laura"
Song of the Jet — One of Jobim's lesser known tunes. When Tom brought a transcription of Eliane Elias' record to me, I thought it was great but I didn't want to do it the same way, So, I said, "Let's do it as a ballad instead of abossa." He said, "Yeah" and played the shit out of it. I think it's one of the best tracks on the CD.
The Duke — Years ago I had the Eric Dolphy and Richard Davis LP "Iron Man," with bass clarinet and bass fiddle only. The clear simplicity of the music inspired this track. I met Dave Brubeck and his wife at Vibrato when he did a benefit for the Brubeck Institute. Dave was ninety-years old and still wanted to play every day. That inspired me to play at least until I'm 90. Since clarinet was Tom's first axe, I asked him if he also played bass clarinet. He does. So we did The Duke with me and Tom playing the melody in unison, and just Christian's brushes as our rhythm section.
Fun Ride — When I was a young, aspiring bass player, I heard Bill Evans’ Trio at the Village Vanguard, with his original trio: Bill, [bassist] Scott La Faro, and [drummer] Paul Motian. I almost decided at that point to forget it. Scott completely blew my mind and I thought if I couldn't play the bass like that, why even bother. So actually, I was inspired to have something to shoot for even though it felt like it was as close to me achieving as going to Mars.
While playing through the Bill Evans Fakebook on piano, I came across Fun Ride. It's a difficult tune to improvise on because of its chromatic chord progressions yet Tom, Christian and I hit it in one take. By the way, all these tunes were done in one take. I think that's the way jazz should be recorded on most occasions. Nowhere to hide. Spontaneous. Fresh. You lose something, the more takes you do.
Georgia on My Mind — After Herb played so great on Laura, I asked if he would do another tune. He agreed and said he'd like to do Georgia, which presents Herb without embellishments, just letting his familiar melodic sense shine. Hoagy Carmichael is another natural writer who is probably best known for this song but he wrote so many other great songs, like Skylark, Memories of You, Heart and Soul, Stardust. These are just a few that have inspired every musician at some time in their career.
The Theme — When Miles would come to L.A. with Wayne Shorter, Wayne would call me to hang out. I would go to the Chateau Montmartre Hotel to pick him up. One night he asked me if I wanted to meet Miles. "Sure." Wayne introduced me as his friend from Newark who went to school from kindergarten to Arts High with him. At the time, Miles was cooking something on the stove. He said, "You wanna eat?" "No thanks, I just had dinner." "Cool." Next year, it's the same scenario. Wayne calls and we stop by to see Miles, "Hey Miles, this is my buddy from Newark..." Miles stops him, "I remember that mother f**ker. He didn't want to eat my food." Miles always said what he felt, like it or not. His confidence inspired me. We did The Theme a little differently. Each of us played our solo — solo. It was fun. In all my years at Vibrato we played The Theme to end every set, as is traditional. (All the servers knew this and could sing the melody.)
Two for the Road—Tom suggested this tune to close the CD and you can hear why. It's a natural way to end a beautiful evening.
Thanks to: Tom, Christian, Larry, Herb, Jordi Pujol, Hussain Jiffery, Misaki Saito, and Paul Taverner for making this CD. I hope it inspires you to make your dreams into realities.”
Let’s close this visit with Pat and his music with something to think about. During a particularly challenging time for performing artists, it’s nice to have the opportunity to help support them by purchasing their recordings. Everyone stays safe and all of those concerned with making the recording pick up some schimolies while enriching your soul with their artistry. Maybe it’s our small way of becoming a “patron of the arts?”