Just Friends

ERIC INEKE – On Saturday, April 1, drummer Eric Ineke will be celebrating his 70th birthday with a Super Jam at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam. There will be performances by Ineke and other Dutch luminaries such as Rein de Graaff, Ruud Jacobs, Peter Beets and Tineke Postma. Find info and tickets here.

During a long and fulfilling career, Ineke, foremost European modern jazz drummer in the tradition of Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Billy Higgins and Louis Hayes, has collaborated with countless American legends like Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie, Lucky Thompson, Hank Mobley, Freddie Hubbard and Johnny Griffin and sustained long-time associations with Ferdinand Povel, Dick Vennik, Ben van de Dungen & Jarmo Hoogendijk, Benjamin Herman and Dave Liebman. For nearly four decades, Ineke has been playing with the Rein de Graaff Trio. Ineke has been leading his own hard bop quintet, Eric Ineke’s JazzXpress, for eleven years now.

Gary Smulyan

Chasin’ The Bari

A meeting with baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan isn’t complete without a mention of Encounter!, the masterpiece of his all-time bari hero, Pepper Adams. “Pepper is the all-round master. And what a sound!”

Like many fellow Americans that are and have been eagerly doing the freedom jazz dance, Smulyan spends a lot of his work time in Europe. Currently, Smulyan is touring The Netherlands with the trio of pianist Rein de Graaff, a series of gigs billed as Chasin’ The Bird. Smulyan, a congenial gentleman with strong hands and fluent talker with a glance that alludes to a romantic rendezvous between sincerity and good humor, explains: “I have been touring with Rein’s trio about every two years for a long time now. I tell you, we’re flying from note one. These guys really know where it’s at. The venues are lovely and Rein isn’t only a great piano player but an extraordinary organiser as well. It’s a warm bath.”

Chasin’ The Bird, one hell of a job. Or, correction, heavenly duty. “I can’t get enough of Charlie Parker. In fact, I’m still awe-struck. Bird’s a daily treat on the menu. Strangely enough, Parker is regularly taken for granted. From talking to musicians I sometimes get the impression that they only scratched the surface of Parker, didn’t look further than the well-known recordings. But there is a wealth of revealing material, like the bootlegs, some of which luckily have come to the surface legally. Lately, I’ve been listening a lot to those amateur recordings Dean Benedetti made of the Bird solos. It’s astonishing! His rhythm, harmony, time, just otherworldly. Sometimes freshmen ask me, ‘what’s the secret, how do you do it?’. Well, there is no secret. Bird is the well you need to drink from. Find your own taste while you’re at it. Lest we forget, of course Bird was influenced significantly by Lester Young, among others, there’s the tradition, there are the bloodlines… However, Bird is The One.”

Starting out in jazz as an alto saxophonist, Smulyan was heavily influenced by Phil Woods, who, it goes without saying, developed a distinctive and brilliant musical personality in the Parker tradition. Born in Bethpage, New York in 1956, growing up in Long Island, the aspiring Smulyan was close to the centre of modern jazz, Manhattan, and as a consequence, Phil Woods. “In the early days, I even dressed like Phil Woods, down to the singular leather cap! At any rate, I played alto until I was twenty-two, hadn’t even touched the baritone. My jazz schooling really gained depth when I acquainted Billy Mitchell, Dave Burns, Joe Dixon, who became my mentors. It’s really important to come across guys that are on a higher level and have more knowledge than you and who, above all, honestly point out your shortcomings. Kind of steer you in directions with integrity, you know. That’s why I’m consciously open minded to youngsters. I’m grateful for meeting my mentors and strive to pass the peas in a worthy manner myself.”

(Clockwise from left: Charlie Parker; Pepper Adams; Gary Smulyan)

Sitting in with his mentors, and soon, legends like Chet Baker and Lee Konitz, Smulyan and the little horn seemed a perfect pair. Until the big horn came along. In 1978, the phone rang, and the question was if Smulyan would like to play in the big band of Woody Herman. On baritone. “Well, it didn’t take me long to figure out that puzzle. Luckily, I had two weeks to spare. I bought a Yamaha baritone and studied some tunes I knew were in the Herman book. Suddenly, I found myself sitting beside tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, who became a life-long friend. That phone call was one of those fortuitous moments that sometimes occur in one’s life. Right place, right time. Initially, it was quite unnerving, a risk. But I strongly believe that it’s important to take a risk, grab that opportunity.”

The association with Herman’s Young Thundering Herd was the start of Smulyan’s career as a baritone saxophonist that has been going on for almost forty years. Among many other endeavors, Smulyan played in the Mel Lewis Orchestra, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and cooperated with Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz and George Coleman, and records prolifically as a leader. A regular winner of the Downbeat Reader’s and Critic’s Poll and Grammy Awards, Smulyan is the to-go-to baritone saxophonist on the scene today. First it was Pepper, now Gary Smulyan is the all-round master. Ooh, ooh, ooh, what a little phone call can do to you.

“Like I always say: I didn’t choose the baritone, the baritone chose me.”

“It’s not such a cumbersome instrument as they say. At least, I don’t see any difference with the trombone, tuba, or drums for that matter. It’s in the way that you use it. And how can it be awkward when you do it with love? Furthermore, there are not many baritone players around as opposed to tenor or alto players, so if you’re proficient, there’s a lot of work. The baritone is the underdog. Sometimes I take the horn out of my suitcase and just see those eyes popping out of the head of a spectator! Mulligan is the only baritone saxophonist who is known by the general public. At any rate, if you would’ve told me at age fifteen that I would become a baritone saxophonist, I would’ve said you’re crazy. That’s why I’m still, occasionally, floored by happenings in my life. Such as my cooperation with Tommy Flanagan on my 1991 Homage album of Pepper Adams pieces. Flanagan!”

A number of baritone saxophonists influenced Smulyan, among them the father of the bari, Harry Carney and the modernists Leo Parker and Cecil Payne. However, Smulyan’s main man is Pepper Adams, the little man with the big horn who took the baritone to the next level, displaying the blistering speeds of bebop, rare harmonic ingenuity, a composer’s sense of continuity, agressive rhythm, a bark-like timbre and a huge, imposing sound. “It’s all there on Encounter!, Adams’ 1968 Prestige album with Zoot Sims, Tommy Flanagan, Ron Carter and Elvin Jones. The epithome of Pepper’s art. I’m still enthralled by his sound on that album! Sound reflects the personality, it’s paramount, it’s your voice. And boy, does Pepper have a marvelous voice. Rhythmically, harmonically, his standard of playing is tremendous. Rudy van Gelder’s production is out of sight, very transparant and spacious. Partly straightforward, partly avant-leaning, the vibe is remarkably free. Also because of Elvin Jones, of course. There are a number of challenging tunes, like Punjab, the Joe Henderson tune. Zoot Sims, a more straightforward swinger and a big favorite of mine, really seizes the opportunity. He’s an interesting partner for Pepper. The tunes are short, I like that. Short is good! Although I like to stretch out, a maximum of allotted solo time isn’t necessarily a disadvantage. Enough time in short tunes for harmony as well. It stimulates creativity. Look at Duke Ellington, the enormous wealth of stuff that he put in those 3 or 4 minute tunes. I also love the Pepper Adams album Ephemera, with Mel Lewis, George Mraz and Roland Hanna, for many of the same reasons. 10 To 4 At The Five Spot? Great album. But that piano! Horribly out of tune. It’s hard to listen to. Poor Bobby Timmons.”

(Clockwise from left: Pepper Adams – Encounter!, Prestige 1968; Pepper Adams – Ephemera, Spotlite 1973; Charlie Parker – The Complete Benedetti Recordings Of Charlie Parker, Mosaic 1990)

A lot of Pepper and a lot of pepper, in the guise of a singular type of controlled fury, is evident in the playing of Gary Smulyan. Furthermore, a distinctive voice with his own brand of harmonic finesse, a strong beat, acute wit and a striking penchant for telling a coherent tale rings through. “I’m concerned with the architecture of my lines, with secondary motives, for instance. The kind of structural improvisation that runs through the career of Sonny Rollins. I’m not consciously aware of it, but these things probably lurk somewhere in the back of my mind, while I’m hoping to find beautiful lines. Beautiful lines and beautiful sound is what it’s all about.”

Does middle-to-old age matures the beautiful products of a jazz life, like it does a Bordeaux wine or Ardbeg Scotch? And does it peel off some of the rough edges? Evidently, there’s so much wisdom in the playing of elders like Charles McPherson, Barry Harris, Jimmy Heath. Smulyan chuckles: “Hey, I’m only sixty! Though I feel like I’m fifty-nine. Well, I’m not the same person I was like the twenty year old kid, or the forty year old man. What you go through in music and life is reflected in one’s musical voice, I’m not an exception. However, some sixty year olds might tend to take it easy. Not me. Regardless of my shifting approaches, I still love to play fast!”

Maybe it’s the soul patch sitting, Zen-masterly, under Smulyan’s lips. Or the composed stroll of Smulyan before and after the interview, bringing him to the side walls and show cases of the hotel. Casually dressed in jeans and a sweater, hands folded behind his back, Smulyan bows slightly forward like a collector of Louis XI grandfather clocks on an antique fair, or a monk peeking over the shoulder of a novice at work on a weighty book in the athenaeum. Keen-eyed, curious. Maybe it’s just a hunch that Smulyan’s birds are flyin’ high and dry. Fire down below in the heart, yet a heart at peace with beating evenly. “I’m very pleased about the way things turned out and how I’m doing now.” Chuckling: “The phone keeps ringing and I sometimes succeed in coaxing producers into projects. Most of all, I’m glad to live my life in the jazz realm. Essentially, jazz is a social affair. Nowadays, people have turned inwards more and more, individualism is overbearing. But jazz is communication. From the pals I visited to play and discuss records with day and night as a young aficionado, to the colleagues and friends in the studio and on stage, it’s about doing things together. Until recently, I teached music college students with developmental disabilities at Berkshire Hills. Their accomplishments are amazing. Jazz is a great tool, you know. It’s refreshing to see the bigger picture.”

Gary Smulyan

Gary Smulyan is the most sought-after baritone saxophonist in jazz today. A five-time winner of the Downbeat Critic’s and Reader’s Poll and a six-time winner of the Grammy Award, Smulyan has built a sizable and diverse resume as a leading recording artist and been a long-serving member of The Mel Lewis Orchestra, Mingus Big Band, Dave Holland Octet and Big Band and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, as well as the bands of soul and blues giants Ray Charles and B.B. King. Smulyan has cooperated with, among others, Gerald Wilson, Tommy Flanagan, Jimmy Knepper, George Coleman, Joe Lovano, Tom Harrell, Bob Belden, Christian McBride and Mike LeDonne. Smulyan is a faculty member at Amherst College, Massachusetts and teaches at Manhattan School Of Music, NYC.

Selected discography:

As a leader:

Homage, (with Tommy Flanagan, Criss Cross, 1991)
Saxophone Mosaic, (Criss Cross, 1993)
Blue Suite (Criss Cross, 1999)
The Real Deal (Reservoir, 2003)
Smul’s Paradise (Capri, 2012)
Bella Napoli (with Dominic Chianese, Capri, 2013)

As a sideman:

Mike LeDonne, The Feeling Of Jazz (Criss Cross, 1990)
Cedar Walton, Roots (Astor Place, 1997)
Dave Holland Big Band, What Goes Around (ECM, 2002)
Gerald Wilson, In My Time (Mack Avenue, 2005)
Joe Magnarelli, Always There (Criss Cross, 1998)
Mark Masters Ensemble, Ellington Saxophone Encounter (Capri, 2012)

Gary Smulyan’s latest release, Royalty At Le Duc, was released in January 2017 by Sunnyside Records. Find here.

Go to Gary Smulyan’s website here.

Is Seeing Believing?

Liebman, Ineke, Laghina, Cavalli & Pinheiro, Is Seeing Believing? (Challenge)

Saxophist and flautist Dave Liebman, the musical equivalent of Sesame Street’s cookie monster, has done about everything from being part of the Miles Davis group in the early seventies to writing chamber music. Liebman has also been an expert educational writer and organiser. Among other endeavors, he founded the International Association Of Schools Of Jazz, stressing educational cooperation without borders. It’s this responsive spirit that’s at the heart of Is Seeing Believing, a collaboration between the five IASS colleagues Liebman, veteran Dutch drummer Eric Ineke (a longtime Liebman associate who also played on, among others, Lieb Plays The Beatles and Lieb Plays Blues à la Trane), pianist Mário Laghina, bassist Massimo Cavalli and guitarist Ricardo Pinheiro. An international cast that cooks a varied brew. Excepting a robust interpretation of Old Folks, marked by the vibes of John Coltrane’s Impulse output, courtesy of Liebman’s freewheeling, uplifting phrases and Ineke’s lush, pulled-and-pushed rhythm, and the Post Bop-meets-Gypsy-meets-Dixie-meets-Prog Pinheiro tune Ditto, the repertoire is soft-hued, introspective, a gentle but stirring lake of intricate, fine-tuned jazz. A conversation between Liebman’s sensual soprano and Pinheiro’s spicy acoustic guitar is the centre of the warm-blooded piece of folk jazz, Coração Vagabundo. On the other tunes, Pinheiro plays electric guitar, employing a prickly, Jim Hall-ish sound, and daring to turn into eccentric pathways during his concise stories. Like in the sprightly take of Skylark, wherein Liebman and Pinheiro improvise simultaneously. With the wisdom of the elder master, Liebman’s tenor work is spirited without excessive frills. The highlight is the title track, a composition of slow-moving voicings that meander on the sensitive, resonant sound carpet of Ineke, which nicely lets the personalities of the soloists ring through. Pianist Mário Laghina’s embrace of the melody is enamouring, sometimes following the steps of Liebman, sometimes going against the grain teasingly. Part of an album of moving and intelligently crafted modern jazz.

Liebman, Ineke, Laghina, Cavalli & Pinheiro - Is Seeing Believing?

Find Is Seeing Believing? here.

Ruud Breuls - Robert Roozenbeek Photography

Ready For Rudy

Ruud Breuls, sideman par excellence and trumpeter in the renowned German WDR Big Band, lives and breathes straightforward modern jazz, with a particular passion for Freddie Hubbard. “Hard bop is the ideal canvas for my sound.”

Afoggy day in Amsterdam town. The Muziekgebouw Aan ’t IJ is empty, our voices richochet off the walls like the sounds of wild animals inside a hollow oak tree. Familiar terrain for Breuls, who among many other endeavors, starred as a soloist in Shades Of Brown, a tribute to Clifford Brown by the Metropole Orchestra. Breuls, a slender, tall man dressed in a classy woolen overcoat, the soft-hued southern Limburg accent still intact after years in central Holland, enthusiastically peers into the layers of mist that hover over the IJ River. He says, with the sense of wonder typical of his region of birth, where lady chapels are an equally common sight along the roads than traffic signs: “I’ve got my camera with me, you never know. A bit of sun might peek through the fog. That’s beautiful, almost mystical…”

Also very ‘Limburg’: the marching band. “Yes, I grew up with marching bands. They really meant business! It was my initiation into music, but hardly a defining moment. What is? You know, laying out a career path only explains the musician on a superficial level. A defining moment runs deeper. It’s about atmosphere, feeling. More than the fanfare, LP’s fundamentally brought about a change. My brothers came home with records, I loved hard rock, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath. Then there was that Brecker Brothers album, Heavy Metal Be-Bop. Wow! Weird! That cover with the helmet and trumpet, fascinating. They were funky and improvising, which was still a mystery to me. However, the first real defining moment was a Count Basie compilation album. Including Thad Jones and Snooky Young. Oh, Jezus, what is this?! Well, it was swing, of course. A seed was sown.”

The seed, eventually, carried the young, humble Southerner around the country and the globe in a varied assembly of outfits. While specialising in the classic hard bop quintet formation, co-leading hard-swinging groups like Buddies In Soul with veteran pianist Cees Slinger and saxophonist Simon Rigter onwards from the early nineties, Breuls’ career as an orchestral player flourished. Breuls played in the Metropole Orchestra, Dutch Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Orchestra Of The Concertgebouw. Simultaneously, the trumpeter worked in popular music genres, performing and recording with national celebrities like Marco Borsato, Andre Hazes and Gordon, notably with The Stylus Horns, as well as international artists like Seal and Nathalie Cole. Revealing a healthy dose of self-mockery, Breuls assesses his current, declining amount of commercial jobs. “I’m too busy. But honestly, the wrinkles of middle age do not really fit the commercial profile as well anymore. However, they’re perfect for a jazz man!”

For Breuls, his other major defining moment was the discovery of trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. “It was life-changing. To this day, Hubbard is the reference for my style. He’s my main man, Freddie’s in my heart, from the day I bought a Blue Note twofer LP in Rotterdam at age nineteen. It contained Here To Stay, Ready For Freddie, Goin’ Up and Hup Cap, I think. I was stunned! The way Hubbard sculpted his lines and coloured his phrases and bent his notes. The flow of ideas, the swing and that bright sound. That was it. Basically, the Hubbard style of the early sixties defines the way I play. The way I would like to play.”

“There were others, of course. I learned that Miles Davis was the chief god, the genius of the use of space. An unforgettable identity. There’s Lee Morgan, the funky master. I really admire his bravura. It’s delivery time: here’s Lee! The way Morgan forges himself through those changes on Coltrane’s Blue Train album, you know, in Lazy Bird, is a gas. You should write out those lines, frame and put them up on the wall, they’re so beautiful. There are musician’s musicians like Kenny Dorham, Woody Shaw. Outstanding. And there’s Clifford Brown, of course. Brilliant in all registers and what a sound. Although I’m versed in bebop as well, when I did that Clifford Brown performance, I was glad we concentrated mainly on ballads instead of the faster bop tunes!”

“Sound is the identity of the musician. Some trumpeters use a lot of air. That’s beautiful. But I just can’t. A straightahead, round and open tone comes natural to me. It’s allowed to shine and shimmer. I’m white, not black. In a sense, my style is tongue-in-cheek. The sound is clean, pure, would almost fit in a symphony orchestra. But what I play is unadulterated jazz, obviously.”

The passion for straightforward jazz is shared with a coterie of musicians, notably drummers. “It really is hard to explain, borders on telepathy. Like the drummers of the classic hard bop era, guys like Eric Ineke, John Engels, Cees Kranenburg, and including free bird Han Bennink, are, for all their supurb skills, propulsive groove-masters first and foremost. The American drummer Adam Nussbaum as well. And they’re unique in listening to the soloist, stimulating him instead of dominating the proceedings. They have an in-built sense of the phraseology and rhythm of the classic horn players and recognize all the quotes, more so than myself! Eric Ineke especially, he’s liable to lay you down on the barbecue! A shout here and there. That’s a party! It’s a primitive, jungle feeling, jazz in its purest form. From the contemporary trumpeters and jazz musicians, I really regard Roy Hargrove as a hero. A perfect synthesis of hardbop and bebop. Most of all, he’s such an honest musician.”

Pure jazz has a hard time. “We’re a minority in The Netherlands. It’s not hip, supposedly not innovative enough. Which is weird and really irritating. My beloved hard bop, and the tradition and bebop as well of course, make up the fountainhead of jazz. It really is a good development that many young guys are into odd meters and have non-jazz influences. But ideally, those influences would be the icing on their real jazz cake. But all too often the real jazz is left out in the cold. But when played well, hard bop is fresh as a spring leaf. As busy as I am, I try to do at least two or three quintet gigs a month now, with my old pal Simon Rigter for instance. The quintet format is essential for my well-being! I would really like to do more of this stuff again, to be honest. I did a little tour with saxophonist Benjamin Herman and John Engels a couple of years ago. That was great. Benjamin and me are on the same wavelength. I would love to get together again.”

As tall and marked by more than a half decade of life experience on this globe we sometimes call the Big Bad Apple the 54-year old Breuls may be, occasionally seasoning his anecdotes with a fervent four-letter word, there’s a spark of a young boy inside. A sensitive kid who has a hard time fitting in with the hardliners on the schoolyard. One to cherish, soothe. Something in the personality of Breuls is tender, fragile. The carefully crafted style and crystalline sound of Breuls symbolize part of that innocence, suggest a longing for the angels to speak up. His sensitivity, Breuls contemplates, is the reason behind the trumpeter’s life as a sideman. “Those are deep waters. Essentially, it has to do with my family history. Basically, my confidence level is low. The trumpet is a challenge to deal with that. My role as a sideman, as opposed to a leader, is a logical extension of my personality. Besides,”, Breuls chuckles, “I was asked for everything I’ve done, you know.”

“I did a lot of gigs with Michiel Borstlap. He was very stimulating, really pushed me to the front. Figuratively, but also quite literally! Michiel is a very compassionate human being. We share a love for Hubbard, and Herbie Hancock as well. I liked to play fusion, occasionally. So, I was quite upfront there with Michiel, in spite of myself. As ‘Miles’ with the Metropole (Breuls was the leading soloist during integral performances of Porgy & Bess and Miles Ahead, among others, FM) and Clifford Brown, I was in the limelight as well, of course. It was a real good feeling to get under the skin of those giants. As an effect, I really pushed my envelope, playing better day after day. At any rate, the seat in the WDR chair really suits me to a T. The alternation of playing the parts and solo spots is wonderful.”

The volume of Breuls’ voice is turned up a notch or two. “Aaah… The WDR Big Band is really something. One hell of a big band! An interesting international cast. The gutsy delivery of the WDR Big Band floors me completely. And the variety of guest stars is striking. Since I’m in the band, we’ve had Jimmy Heath, Ron Carter, Billy Hart, Al Foster, Dick Oatts, Chris Potter, Antonio Sanchez, Ambrose Akinmusire… I really dig my role in the sound spectrum and relish the solo spots. I’m like that little devil jumping out of the box. Everybody is on their toes and we’re really stimulated to be greasy, to scrape off the layer of varnish. The WDR has a hard-boiled attitude: give us the fucking juice, man! Come on! You wanna be a jazz player?! You know what I mean?”

One wouldn’t be surprised if that band will account for defining moment number 3 in the life and career of Ruud Breuls. “Who knows? Time will tell. Those things really have to be left to fate.”

Ruud Breuls

Ruud Breuls (Urmond, 1962) is featured on more than 300 albums, both jazz and popular music. Since the early nineties, Breuls has been part of big bands such as the Dutch Jazz Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra, Cubop City Big Band and the Jazz Orchestra Of The Concertgebouw. He currently is a member of the WDR Big Band. Breuls has also been active in long-term, small ensembles such as Buddies In Soul and Major League. The trumpeter performed and recorded with, among others, Kenny Barron, The Beets Brothers, Bob Brookmeyer, Billy Cobham, Michiel Borstlap, Ronnie Cuber, John Engels, Billy Hart, Jimmy Heath, Benjamin Herman, Bill Holman, Eric Ineke, Joe Lovano, Vince Mendoza, Michel Portal and Mike Stern. Breuls teaches at the Conservatory Of Amsterdam. In 2013, Breuls won the Laren Jazz Award. In the Spring of 2017, a Louis Armstrong project of Breuls and Simon Rigter will be released by Sound Liaison on CD and made available as high-resolution downloads.

Photograph of Ruud Breuls above by Mattis Cederberg; on the homepage by Robert Roozenbeek Photography.

Flophouse Favorites 2016

FLOPHOUSE FAVORITES 2016: Heaven abides, a year without ‘epic’ hypes. Let’s just go about our business and check out the real deal of the past, and present. In Cannonball’s words: ‘I mean soul, you know what I mean, soul.’ Read all about Flophouse Magazine’s favorite releases of 2016 below:

Cannonball Adderley, One For Daddy-O – Jazz At The Concertgebouw (Dutch Jazz Archive Series)

The Dutch Jazz Archive has been releasing the Jazz At The Concertgebouw series since 2007. From the mid-fifties to the early sixties, the concerts presented the first opportunity for Dutch jazz fans to see and hear legends of jazz perform in person. Over the years, the Concertgebouw concerts have acquired a near-mythic status, much like the Kralingen Pop Festival gained a reputation as the Dutch equivalent of Woodstock for the babyboom hippies. Among other CD’s, the Dutch Jazz Archive released Concertgebouw performances by Chet Baker, The Miles Davis Quintet featuring John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers featuring Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter, Count Basie, J.J. Johnson, Gerry Mulligan and Lee Konitz/Zoot Sims. The latest addition highlights Cannonball Adderley, who played at Amsterdam’s prime concert hall on November 19, 1960. 1960 was a pivotal year for Adderley. The heavy-set, amiable alto saxophonist, who had made such an indelible impression upon his arrival in New York City in 1955, had really gotten his act together now, having signed with Orrin Keepnews’ Riverside label, which released the highly succesful and influential live album The Cannonball Adderley Quintet In San Francisco at the tail end of 1959. Adderley brings the quintet with him, minus pianist Bobby Timmons, who’d returned to Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and was replaced by the English pianist Victor Feldman. Feldman’s Exodus is performed, as well as This Here, One For Daddy-O and Bohemia After Dark. Feldman makes his simultaneously sophisticated and bluesy mark in the Bobby Timmons chart hit, This Here, Nat Adderley is ebullient and the rhythm section of Louis Hayes and Sam Jones makes abundantly clear why it was regarded as one of the hardest swinging outfits around. Cannonball is in top form, tackling the tunes like a lion grabbing the neck of a lion cub. Added to these four tunes is a guest performance of Cannonball Adderley with the local crew of pianist Pim Jacobs, guitarist Wim Overgaauw, bassist Ruud Jacobs and drummer Cees See at Theater Bellevue in Amsterdam on June 3, 1966. It was recorded for Dutch radio broadcast. The group, albeit in excellent command of the material, is a bit timid in contrast with Cannonball, who fires on all cylinders, occasionally flying off the rails with great zest. While jubilant, it seems Cannonball also had to drive out some demons that particular day in the nation’s capital. One For Daddy-O – Jazz At The Concertgebouw comes with insightful liner notes by journalist Bert Vuijsje.

Cannonball Adderley - One For Daddy-O

Find One For Daddy-O – Jazz At The Concertgebouw here.

Tom Harrell, Something Gold, Something Blue (HighNote)

At the age of 70, trumpet and flugelhorn player Tom Harrell is not about to slow down. Harrell, a supreme lyrical player and sophisticated composer, started out his professional career with Stan Kenton and Woody Herman in the late sixties and early seventies, had extended performance and recording stints with Horace Silver (1973-77) and Phil Woods (1983-89) and cooperated with numerous greats of jazz like Bill Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Konitz and Art Farmer. Since the late eighties, Harrell has broadened his horizon by writing for large ensembles, big bands and orchestra, both jazz and classical, including his own Chamber Ensemble. His work has been recorded by luminaries as Ron Carter, Kenny Barron, Hank Jones and Charlie Haden. For over ten years, Harrell has kept a quintet going, occasionally switching sidemen. For his latest release, Something Gold, Something Blue, the line-up consists of drummer Jonathan Blake, bass player Ugonna Okegwo, fellow trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and guitarist Charles Altura. Forefronting his trademark, marshmellow sound, a sound that embraces you like a blanket on a cold winter’s day, Harrell’s set switches from the intelligent, lithe groove of View, the world music of Delta Of The Nile, modal tendencies of Trances to the ethereal Travelin’, which showcases Harrell’s gift for exploring every corner of a melody. An enigmatic, intriguing performer on stage, Harrell’s time in the studio is also still well spent.

Tom Harrell - Something Gold, Something Blue

Find Something Gold, Something Blue here.

Liebman, Ineke, Laghina, Cavalli & Pinheiro, Is Seeing Believing? (Challenge)

Saxophist and flautist Dave Liebman, the musical equivalent of Sesame Street’s cookie monster, has done about everything from being part of the Miles Davis group in the early seventies to writing chamber music. Liebman has also been an expert educational writer and organiser. Among other endeavors, he founded the International Association Of Schools Of Jazz, stressing educational cooperation without borders. It’s this responsive spirit that’s at the heart of Is Seeing Believing, a collaboration between the five IASS colleagues Liebman, veteran Dutch drummer Eric Ineke (a longtime Liebman associate who also played on, among others, Lieb Plays The Beatles and Lieb Plays Blues à la Trane), pianist Mário Laghina, bassist Massimo Cavalli and guitarist Ricardo Pinheiro. An international cast that cooks a varied brew. Excepting a robust interpretation of Old Folks, marked by the vibes of John Coltrane’s Impulse output, courtesy of Liebman’s freewheeling, uplifting phrases and Ineke’s lush, pulled-and-pushed rhythm, and the Post Bop-meets-Gypsy-meets-Dixie-meets-Prog Pinheiro tune Ditto, the repertoire is soft-hued, introspective, a gentle but stirring lake of intricate, fine-tuned jazz. A conversation between Liebman’s sensual soprano and Pinheiro’s spicy acoustic guitar is the centre of the warm-blooded piece of folk jazz, Coração Vagabundo. On the other tunes, Pinheiro plays electric guitar, employing a prickly, Jim Hall-ish sound, and daring to turn into eccentric pathways during his concise stories. Like in the sprightly take of Skylark, wherein Liebman and Pinheiro improvise simultaneously. With the wisdom of the elder master, Liebman’s tenor work is spirited without excessive frills. The highlight is the title track, a composition of slow-moving voicings that meander on the sensitive, resonant sound carpet of Ineke, which nicely lets the personalities of the soloists ring through. Pianist Mário Laghina’s embrace of the melody is enamouring, sometimes following the steps of Liebman, sometimes going against the grain teasingly. Part of an album of moving and intelligently crafted modern jazz.

Liebman, Ineke, Laghina, Cavalli & Pinheiro - Is Seeing Believing?

Find Is Seeing Believing? here.

Woody Shaw & Louis Hayes, The Tour Volume One (HighNote)

Nowadays, trumpeter Woody Shaw is revered as the last great trumpet innovator. Following a low ebb at the turn of the decade, Shaw was at a creative peak in the mid-seventies. On a collision course with fusion and free jazz, the virtuoso Shaw candidly expressed the need to restore faith in straightforward, acoustic jazz, a need that equally passionate classic (hard) boppers such as Cedar Walton, Jimmy Heath, Joe Henderson, Barry Harris and Bobby Hutcherson undoubtly agreed with: “I blame the musicians for nearly killing the music. I mean, some of the rubbish they call jazz in The States is not jazz.” And about the new group he founded with Louis Hayes in 1976: “We said: ‘Wait a minute – we gotta change this a little bit. By no means is jazz dead – that’s essentially why Louis Hayes and I formed this band.” Boy, did Shaw deliver on his promise! In the past, High Note released a series of live recordings by Woody Shaw. This year, the label released The Tour Volume 1, a live recording of his group in Stuttgart, Germany on March 22, 1976. It’s a cutting edge set that shouldn’t be missed. According to the famed jazz producer, writer and co-founder of Mosaic, Michael Cuscuna, who visited countless Woody Shaw shows in the seventies, the trumpeter was a constant crackerjack. Indeed, all the assets that make Shaw such a unique jazz artist are in check: his dark, rich tone, clean attack, facility in all registers, surprising effects and suave modulation through keys. And on the experimental side, the use of the (Coltrane-influenced) pentatonic scale and wider intervals. The kind of stuff that was difficult to pull off with the three-valved trumpet. The group’s no-holds-barred attitude shines through on all cuts: avant-leaning, burnin’ originals by Shaw, (The Moontrane) Matthews, (Ichi-Ban) and Larry Young (Obsequious), a boiled-over bossa of Walter Booker/Cedar Walton (Book’s Bossa) and a greasy semi-ballad of Peggy Stern (Sun Bath). The ever-hard swinging Louis Hayes is relentless, Junior Cook holds his own with a bluesy, big-toned sound and ‘Trane-tinged, edgy phrasing and Ronnie Matthews contributes deft, ringing statements. The somewhat slower Invitation, a Bronislaw Kaper composition, is a gas. Shaw is fluent like a slithering snake in the grass and his technical prowess isn’t executed for virtuosity’s sake, but instead facilitates a beautifully constructed, quietly thunderous storyline. A cat who was truly revealing the full potential of the trumpet.

Woody Shaw & Louis Hayes - The Tour Volume One

Find The Tour Volume One here.

Larry Young, In Paris: The ORTF Recordings (Resonance)

Woody Shaw is present as well on the outstanding 2016 release by Resonance Records, Larry Young – In Paris: The ORTF Recordings. It features sessions that were recorded for radio broadcasting during Young’s periodical 1964/65 sojourns in Paris. Larry Young took Hammond organ jazz beyond its churchy soul jazz roots and the bop ethos of Jimmy Smith, adding whole tone scales and the intervallic inventions of John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner to a clean, crisp sound and restrained, resonant phrasing. The result was a fresh and amazingly free-flowing kind of organ jazz. The organist, well-known for his role on Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, returned to the USA at the end of 1965, where he released his acclaimed masterpiece Unity. In Paris, Young was also joined by tenor saxophonist Nathan Davis and drummer Billy Brooks as well as an international parade of players, including tenor saxophonist Jean-Claude Forenbach. At a purposeful crossroads in his career, Young’s style alternates between the layered, wayward runs of Trane Of Thought and ferocious, pentatonic variations on melodies of Wayne Shorter’s Black Nile. The 19-year old Woody Shaw is a jubilant asset to tunes such as his original composition Zoltan (that would be featured on Unity), nicely contrasting with Nathan Davis’ earthy, edgy tenor. In Paris, which was released on both CD and limited edition vinyl, is the kind of release of unearthed classic jazz material that makes your heart skip a bee: the sound quality is excellent, the package is top-notch and includes previously unreleased photographs and a vast collection of insightful, meticulous liner notes by, among others, Nathan Davis, organist Lonnie Smith, Woody Shaw III, Larry Young III and Resonance producer Zev Feldman. A rare treat for classic jazz fans and a mouth-watering dish for Hammond B3 geeks.

Larry Young - In Paris

Find In Paris: The ORTF Recordings here.

Willie Jones III, Groundwork (WJ3)

Afusion of tradition and innovation, keeping it fresh, energetic, real. The versatile drummer Willie Jones III, who worked with Horace Silver, Hank Jones, Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove and Arturo Sandoval, reserves his self-owned independent label, WJ3, for his hardest boppin’ efforts. Groundwork, the seventh album of Jones on WJ3, is dedicated to his mentor, Cedar Walton, who passed away in 2013, and other deceased colleagues Ralph Penland, Mulgrew Miller and Dwayne Burno. It has the vibe of both the mid-sixties hard bop Blue Note albums and the early seventies catalogue of Muse and Mainstream, created by a mutually responsive outfit that includes veteran bassist Buster Williams (former Walton associate) and the outstanding pianist Eric Reed, who deceptively easily marries intricate modalities with lively blues bits. Post bop gems like the moody Cedar Walton tune Hindsight and the uptempo cooker Gitcha Shout On are alternated with a frolic Buster Williams blues, Toku Do, and Latin-flavored tunes like Ralph Penland’s Jamar and Reed’s New Boundary. Repertoire that’s uplifted also by the pristine, quicksilver phrases of vibe player Warren Wolf and lively blowing of trumpeter Eddie Henderson and saxophonist Stacy Dillard. The propulsive drumming of Jones, just a pulse away from both Billy Higgins and Joe Chambers, is crucial to the proceedings, favoring sympatico support over solo time. Dear Blue, a melancholy ballad written by the Dutch saxophonist Floriaan Wempe, ignites strong emotions. Stacy Dillard creeps into the crevices of the crepuscular melody, evoking memories of Chet Baker singing ballads later in life. Do you hear that pin drop?

Willlie Jones III - Groundwork

Find Groundwork here.

Guido Tazelaar

Gideon’s Bible

Saxophonist Gideon Tazelaar, 19 years old, is one of Holland’s major jazz talents. Leaving his options open for the next five years, Tazelaar at least is positively sure of one next step. “Next year, I’m going back to New York.”

Tazelaar stayed in New York once before in 2015, joining sessions, held spellbound by the remaining legends of modern jazz like Harold Mabern, Jimmy Cobb and Jimmy Heath. “I saw Roy Haynes twice. That was magical. I’ve never seen anything like it. He played with his quartet plus Pat Metheny. But I only watched Haynes behind his drumkit. Everything he did was so spot-on. I was often wondering where he was, time-wise. But I’ve come to the conclusion that, really, what Haynes played was the time. Somehow, Haynes was the music. He went into a tapdance routine, which, astonishingly, revealed the entire jazz tradition. And of course it was special to see someone perform who goes way back to Charlie Parker, Monk, Coltrane… Even to Lester Young.”

With a hesitant timbre in his voice, as if ashamed of his good fortune: “And I had breakfast with Lee Konitz. He’d been my teacher once in Germany and said to call me whenever I was in town. That was awesome. We were at his place. I got a little quiet… But he kept talking, so that was perfect! Konitz said that he felt uneasy recording Motion, because it was his first encounter with Elvin Jones. But in hindsight he thought the results were rather satisfying… I’ve learned lots of things from Konitz. Musical stuff, because he’s a genius, but also about attitude. He doesn’t seem to have an all-encompassing explanation of his musical choices, except that they develop from a search for beauty. He really gives you the idea that the purpose is to follow up on what you love and dig deep into that well.”

“I’m really looking forward to another stay in New York. I will be going for about one year and maybe study at some music college, check out older musicians. Men like Reggie Workman and Charlie Persip still teach. The division between styles is less astringent than here. I’ve noticed this during some sessions with Ben van Gelder and American colleagues, they blew me away playing stuff ranging from blues to Bud Powell to avant-leaning compositions. In The Netherlands, people sometimes encounter me as that supposedly ‘promising musician’. They are friendly, responsive. That’s ok, for sure, people have helped me out a lot. But I haven’t really been at the bottom of the ladder, you know what I mean? And I think it would be beneficial to my musicianship if colleagues kick me in the butt now and then. And they will in New York, regardless of my age, I’m sure! I’m looking forward to it.”

Meanwhile, Tazelaar performs as much as possible. “I try to do my bit of study as well. My mindset changes continuously, so I press myself to study with focus. I like so many things, therefore I have to structure things to really get to the heart of the matter and not be distracted. I’m making schemes for two months in advance.”

Tazelaar grins, his downy, dark-brown moustache twists. He pulls himself from his couch, finds a notebook between the rubble on his desk, sits down and proceeds to read his upcoming scheme. If anything, an intriguing hodgepodge of activities. Among other things, Tazelaar is going to practice clarinet again, learn a Bud Powell solo on piano, read the biography of Sidney Bechet, finish an original Tazelaar tune, study the theory of Schönberg, harmonize chorals in Bach style and, last but not least, learn 3 solo’s of Frank Trumbauer, Bix Beiderbecke and Louis Armstrong each. Monomania. Eagerness. A young man enthralled by the beauty of America’s sole original art form as well as the works of classical composers who often were admired by the jazz legends.

Recognition for Tazelaar has come early. Already playing saxes as a kid and adding clarinet in the process, Tazelaar has been in the limelight ever since. He played at The Concertgebouw at the age of 8, enrolled at the Conservatory of Amsterdam when he was 14, passing maxima cum laude at 18. If he may choose to, Tazelaar can put a nice rack of prizes on his mantle and has been a regular fixture in the club circuit and at the North Sea Jazz Festival. Sitting under a framed portrait of John Coltrane, the eyes of the bright college student-type Tazelaar twinkle when looking back upon his contribution to a tenor summit at the Bimhuis last March, including Rein de Graaff, Eric Ineke, Eric Alexander, Sjoerd Dijkhuizen and Ferdinand Povel. “So inspiring to play with the elders. And especially great to share the stage with Ferdinand, who has been my teacher for a long time. He teached me a lot just by talking about jazz, and especially about harmony. He plays so beautifully. I think I nicked quite a few of his phrases.”

Asked about his playing style, the contemplative, even-tempered Tazelaar is cautious to ill-define matters. He patiently weighs his words on a scale, much like the way a thrift store owner would count the coins that a bunch of candy-buying kids have scattered on the counter. Lots of ‘umms’ and ‘aaahs’. The sound of a brain cracking. “Tough question. I don’t think I play in one style. I experience it as versatile, depending on the people I play with. It puts the big picture of a group in perspective, I don’t feel the need to deliberately go against the grain in a group, style-wise. Arguably, it’s all part of my development. I might one day stick to something that feels destined to be played. In general, I have my influences as well, of course.”

Aside from Povel, Tazelaar is fond of saxophonist Benjamin Herman, having thrown himself headlong into the weekly sessions at Amsterdam’s De Kring. “Basically, I’m a very critical and self-critical guy. Genes, I guess. That’s ok, critique’s a constructive asset. But it tends to stress negative aspects as well. Benjamin focuses on good things, he’s able to find interesting, quirky aspects in different kinds of music. That’s positive. And better for your mental health.”

Tazelaar has been picking some positively quintessential influences at an early age. “I’m listening to a lot of classic bop and hard bop saxophonists, but up until now I’ve always come back to my main men: Bechet, Parker and Coltrane.”

“I’m always interested in the transitional periods in the careers of musicians. Those recordings of Bechet in France in the late forties are great. (Tazelaar refers to Bechet’s May 1949 recordings with either the Claude Luter Orchestra or Pierre Braslavsky Orchestra) He’s playing New Orleans-style, of course, but hints at things to come as well. He would be an influence on Coltrane.”

“I really like both early and late Coltrane. Early or late, the integrity and inspiration are always there. Lately I’ve been listening to Coltrane with Miles Davis in 1960, near the end of Coltrane’s stay with Miles Davis. There’s this live version of ‘Round Midnight, it was on bootlegs I think. Coltrane goes from one extreme to the other, but keeps referring to the melody in between, it’s fantastic.”

“Parker’s playing on Dizzy Atmosphere (February 28, 1945, Savoy MG12020, FM) is also a good example of tension between old and new. Swing and bop, in this case. There’s this swing rhythm section including bass player Slam Stewart (and Clyde Hart, Remo Palmieri and Cozy Cole, FM) that swings like mad. Parker and Gillespie are inventing the bop language on top of it. But the thing is, Parker blends well with that old style, because he lived in that period as well, naturally. He knew where it was at. In these performances, Parker constitutes the best of two worlds, he fits.”

Gideon Tazelaar

Gideon Tazelaar (Hilversum, 1997) has been performing from age 8, appearing at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Prinsengracht Concert. Since his early teens, Tazelaar has been a sought-after player, performing with the Dutch Jazz Orchestra and the Jazz Orchestra Of The Concertgebouw as well as at The North Sea Jazz Festival, and has been cooperating with, among others, Benjamin Herman, John Engels, Peter Beets, Ben van Gelder, Dick Oatts, Eric Alexander and, in the summer of 2016, organist Lonnie Smith. Tazelaar won the Composition Award of NBE in 2006, the Prinses Christina Jazz Concours in 2012 with his quartet Oosterdok 4 and the Expression Of Art Award in 2016. Nowadays, Tazelaar regularly plays with his Gideon Tazelaar Trio, which includes bass player Ties Laarakker and drummer Wouter Kühne.

Check out Gideon Tazelaar’s website here.

Fried Bananas

NEW RELEASE: DEXTER GORDON. In 1972, Dexter Gordon lived in Copenhagen and had been in Europe for ten years. He had usually toured the continent by picking local musicians, but in the early and mid-seventies Gordon commonly played with a Dutch ‘working band’ consisting of pianist Rein de Graaff, bassist Henk Haverhoek and drummer Eric Ineke. In the liner notes of the latest Gearbox vinyl release, Fried Bananas, Gordon’s widow, Maxine Gordon, remembers the expatriate tenor saxophonist being overjoyed by this touring deal. Dexter wrote to friends in Copenhagen: “This tour is quite fantastic; we are traveling through Holland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belge and France! It’s six weeks no, seven weeks and I’m getting rich! Anyway, it’s very well organized and seems to be a succes. For the most part I’m working with the same group…” Fried Bananas, a November 3, 1972 gig at the small town of Heemskerk in The Netherlands, recorded for a VPRO radio broadcast, shows Gordon in top form, relying on a tight-knit trio that knows the kind of muscular, bop-inflected music that the maestro plays inside out.

Typical of Dexter Gordon, the 49-year old tenor saxophonist throws himself headlong into his self-penned tune Fried Bananas, taking care of business from note one, telling a big-sounding tale full of behind-the-beat blues, witty asides, barks and wails and an imposing dose of hard bop mastery. He’s in no hurry, unfazed, relentless. The group answers the call of Dexter with zest. Rein de Graaff puts in excellent, flowing statements not unlike those of the former Gordon associate and fellow legend, Sonny Clark. Gordon charmingly introduces Body And Soul: “If you play tenor, you have to play this tune, haha.” It is, however, not often played like this, as the trio lays down a slow-midtempo bounce that brings back memories of the famous Coltrane version on Coltrane Sounds, courtesy of, among other things, Eric Ineke’s lithe counterpoint. Their avant-leaning approach gently nudges Gordon into alleys where carefree, frivolous notes have been waiting to get out of hiding. The other Gordon original, The Panther, was released on Gordon’s magnificent 1970 Prestige album The Panther. It’s a funky, beat-heavy blues, fruitful territory for Gordon’s cliché-free, forceful blowing.

In the early seventies, not only the major cities but almost every small town in The Netherlands had a club where jazz was hosted. Remarkable, from today’s viewpoint. The legendary Dexter Gordon graced a myriad of small venues like Societeit Progress in the Lowlands with his hard-boppin’, big-sounding artistry. The historical importance of this release to the Dexter Gordon and modern jazz legacy cannot be overstated.

Find the release in store here and check out the Gearbox website here.

For further information about the Dexter Gordon legacy, go to The Dexter Gordon Society and dextergordon.com.