Posted on June 6, 2014

While I don’t usually review CDs per se as there are so many which cross my desk all worthy of my attention, from time to time sounds or the stories which emanate from them jump out at me.  Here a few encapsulated cases in point.

Baritone saxist Andrew Hadro is a multi-threat jazz personage.  Not only is he a masterful player on a still under recognized solo instrument, but he is also my computer guru who helped me set up this blog.

I first encountered Hadro when he was hired to build the website for an organization on which board I sat as an adviser, American Jazz Venues, the brainchild of the late educator, drummer and band organizer, Clem DeRosa (see a previous blog post).  From there he was easy to trace.  His trail led me to his subbing on the 17-piece Mike Longo New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble at the New York Baha’i Center on their Tuesday Jazz Nights.

The CD, For Us ,The Living (Tone Rogue Records) is his first as a leader.  He follows in the footsteps of some other bari players who have recently emerged as leaders: Claire Daley, Gary Smulyan and Carol Sudhalter.  Their instrument is the same, but their paths diverge.  Daley, Smulyan and Sudhalter, as well as veterans Ronnie Cuber, Howard Johnson and others are more in the tradition of Gerry Mulligan, lusty swingers; Hadro is more ethereal, deep in thought.

Taking a page from the likes of Maria Schneider –who is herein represented by her “Sea of Tranquility”– and other gauze-like composers, Hadro and his group, Daniel Fosse, bass, (Ms.)Carmen Staaf, piano, and Matt Wilson, drums, offer nine other selections including six of his own.  The others are by 21st Century composers Julian Shore, Ryan Anselmi and James Davis.

The CD, not unlike Schneiders’, should be taken as an entity and not reviewed track-by-track.  You might better understand why with titles like “Allegrecia,” “Forever, All Ways” and “Wading the Sea.”  His back-up superbly represent him; if the abused term simpatico was ever thus this is the place.

Hadro himself is even more diverse.  Born in Mexico City, his family moved to Brazil then to the East Coast then to Chicago.  Hadro’s is a new voice I thought you might be interested in hearing.

A more familiar sound, but still unique is offered by Grammy-nominated trombonist, arranger, vocalist Pete McGuinnness.  His second big band CD, Strength In Numbers (Summit Records), has been making some noise not only on jazz radio but also by the likes of Jonathan Schwartz on his middle-of-road Great American Songbook weekend radio and Internet shows.

This is a lusty 16-piece big band with ballsy bravura.  McGuinness’ vocals are in direct contrast to that sound.  Unlike some other big band singers McGuinness rises above the background and gives us his charts and vocals on the LeGrand and the Bergmans’ “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?” and the jazz standard “You Don’t Know What Love Is,”  These and the other seven tracks –”You Don’t Know…” is reprised as a condensed radio version– all are arranged by McGuinness who has written for BMI Workshops alongside Bob Brookmeyer.  (I remember the two of them in the successor to the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra.)  The opening track, “The Send Off,” is dedicated to Brookmeyer.

McGuinness penned all nine of the selections.  There’s even one of Stephen Foster’s, a beautifully re-harmonized “Beautiful Dreamer,” a commission for the Westchester Jazz Orchestra.

McGuinness and I were colleagues at New Jersey City University.  He has moved on to William Paterson University where he a professor of Jazz Arranging.

A different kind of big band, a full orchestra actually, is Martin Wind‘s Turn Out The Stars.  Inspired by pianist/composer Bill Evans’ compositions and/or tunes associated with him it is one of the more lush CDs of 2014 or any other year.  The orchestra is the Orchestra Filharmonica Marchigiana.  Featured soloists are Scott Robinson, reeds, Bill Cunliffe, piano and Joe LaBarbera, drums.

The title track was the opening number when the Quartet performed in the Jazz Room at the Kitano Hotel in East Midtown Manhattan.  It was purported to be a CD release party, but for two factors.  Cunliffe was replaced by the intellectually depthful pianist-cum-author Bill Mays, and the Orchestra was in absentia.  They will perform in tandem elsewhere on this summer’s festival circuit.

The missing strings gave way to a more open set at Kitano.  There was more room for other stretching.  Of Evans’ interpretations we were treated to “My Foolish Heart” with Robinson on cornet –Jeez! Is there no end to this guy’s talents?– and later in the set by his Bb clarinet –he also plays Eb clarinet– tenor sax, and, get this now, C-melody sax.  The latter is an archaic instrument of mixed breeding from Bix-ian time then played by Frankie Trumbauer.  On occasion you might hear it played by others in whimsical moments.  Robinson nails it as part of his coterie of reed and brass instruments from the tiny sopranino to the gargantuan contrabass sax.

I was sitting at a table in the rear of the room with the Paquito D’Rivera’s.  Paquito was having a grand ol’ time with Robinson’s multiplicity of talents.

There were even brighter moments.  Wind –pronounced in the Anglicized as opposed to the German “Vind”; he’s from Elensburg, Germany– interpolated Mancini’s “The Days of Wine and Roses.”  You could almost hear the Mercer lyric; a dedication by and to a Robinson friend’s deceased child, “Jeremy”; LaBarbera’s play on Evans’ hit from the album with Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” called “Kind of Bill.”  Evans loved wordplay.

The set concluded with arguably Evans’ most famous piece from that same Davis “Kind of Blue” album, “Blue In Green.”  Mays handled the unusual 10-bar structure of the tune with deft aplomb making sure everyone was properly cued.

Elsewhere on the CD you may find “Memory of Scotty,”  composed by Don Friedman for Evans’ bass playing friend Scott LaFaro; “Twelve Tone Scale Two,” arranged by Cunliffe, and “Goodbye Mr. Evans,” by Phil Woods.

Wind will blow (sorry) with this format at least through the summer fests.  This initial New York City setting, the intimacy of a small well-acoustic-ed room replete with its cheerleader owner provided a perfect setting.  The CD, which is out on What If? Music, was recorded live at the Teatro Rossini , Pesaro, Italy.



Sitting in a pile nearby the computer are the following tomes which I hope will be my summer reading and get to soon, or not.  I’m a slow reader.  From what I have gleaned from them they are all encompassing, complete and thoroughly researched works of love.  You might want to try Amazon.  [N.B.: I did not include the Terry Teachout Ellington.  More on that in a later post.]

  • Frank Foster‘s Autobiography : (With Cecilia Foster) A Jazz Master, An Autobiography, PFDGS
  • Marian McPartland‘s Biography : Paul De Barros, Shall We Play That One Together?  St. Martin’s Press
  • Cal Tjader‘s Biography : S. Duncan Reid, The Life and Recordings of the Man Who Revolutionized Latin Jazz, McFarland
  • Joe Wilder‘s Biography : Edward Berger, Softly With feeling, Joe Wilder and the Breaking of Barriers in American Music, Temple University Press

© arnold jay smith, June 2014


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