Monday, December 29, 2008

RIP Freddie

Many of us will know that Freddie has not been well lately.   Today, I received the very sad news that he passed this morning.  Here is Downbeat's obit.

Freddie has always been an inspiration to me - some of the most swinging' eighth notes ever!!

I heard him live a couple of times, both in the 80's.  He was one of the first trumpet players I REALLY LISTENED to.

In tribute, enjoy this clip of Freddie playing some amazing stuff...

Friday, December 19, 2008

More Favorites of 2008

Another cat I have been deep into lately is saxophonist Matt Otto.

I've been listening to 2 of his recordings:  "Red" which was recorded in 2005 but I've just been into it lately, and "La Commune" which was recorded this year and is available for FREE (donations are appreciated) at Matt's blog.  

Matt is a new discovery for me; discoveries like him are always such a blessing.  His playing is incredible melodic and lyrical without being overly sentimental and his sound is nothing short of beautiful.  He has a very organic approach to developing a line and an understated quality that has been appealing to me more and more.  His harmonic vocabulary is very interesting - he is a protege of George Garzone -  but I never feel that harmonic playing is in the forefront of his approach.  He doesn't play harmony for the sake of harmony.  Everything he plays is in the service of melody.  His rhythmic language is just as fluid and organic.  His tunes float through mixed meter effortlessly but again, all in the service of melody.  In short - I love his playing.

As evidenced by his distribution of "La Commune", he is a very giving cat.  Not only is the entire project available, he also makes lead sheets to all the tunes available as well as his thoughts and insight in each of the compositions.  We have had some email conversations and his comments and advice have really been eye-opening for my own playing.  His website has many lessons available for download.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It must be true, I read it on Facebook

Here is a link to a very good post by Lindsay Beyerstein featured today at her blog Majikthise.

She has some good thoughts on a very obnoxious and sexist photo but what she has to say about the immediacy of  Facebook is very important and needs to be kept in mind.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Great quote and great blog

I came across Saxophonist Sam Sadigursky's Blog "The One Seat" today.  In reading though I found a great Bertrand Russell quote that I hadn't thought about for a long time.  Just wanted to share:

We're never as good as we think we are on our good days, nor are we as bad as we think we are when we have a bad day.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Favorites - 2008

Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some reflections on the recordings that have been in heavy rotation in my house this past year.  The first thing that came to mind was the second recording by The Saxophone Summit - Seraphic Light.

Liebman has been a touchstone in my life.  I remember my first experience with him very vividly.  It was at one of Jamey's camps when I was in high school, probably 1988 or so.  He was in residency for a couple of days, did some lectures, performed one evening.  I was just enamored of everything about him:  his total command of the language, his teaching style and ability everything.  I will always remember his performance of "After the Rain" at that venue One afternoon I was walking across the campus after lunch and Lieb was sitting on a bench alone (this in and of itself kind of knocked me out - here is this heavy cat, just digging the pleasant afternoon...).  I introduced myself as only an awkward 15 year old  could and he was very gracious and we had a very cool talk.  I eventually wound up studying with him at his annual Saxophone Masterclass and I still send recordings to him for comment.  

This project has been very important because it brought three of the major voices and to my ears the three "archetypical" approaches to playing saxophone, tenor specifically, in the post-Coltrane world.  Lovano, Brecker and Lieb all in one place was a dream come true for me. Lovano  is just as important to me.  I have never met him but he has one of my biggest modern day influences.  Brecker was, of course, just superlative in all ways.  When Brecker passed and Ravi stepped in, the energy of the group of course changed, but it also evolved as an ensemble.  This latest recording has probably been my most-listened-to recording of the year.

Here is a nice You Tube clip of the group from the summer.  Really nice statements from Lovano and Ravi.  Lieb, unfortunately gets cut off.