Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Sugar Hill Trio - "The Drive"

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

There are four elements that combine in such a way so as to make The Drive [Goschart 031547] commendable and these are the musicians who perform on it:
Christian Torkewitz: Tenor Saxophone and Flute, Austin Walker: Drums, Leon Boykins: Bass (tracks 1,2,3,4,5,6,11), Dylan Shamat: Bass (tracks 7,8,9,10)

A fifth element makes it especially enjoyable to my ears and that is the music itself.

This is because, unlike many of the self-produced CD that manage to find their way to the editorial office of JazzProfiles which are made up of exclusively new music, that is to say, original compositions, The Drive actually emphasizes seven Jazz Standards and tunes from the Great American Songbook among the eleven tracks on the recording.

For former Jazz musicians and enduring Jazz fans like me who have a knowledge of the idiom dating back over half a century, it’s wonderful to hear new players bring the tradition forward by superimposing their improvisations over familiar melodies.

Of course, it is costlier to produce a CD in this manner because their is the question of royalties that must be paid to gain licenses to perform copyrighted music.

But like Jung’s “collective unconscious,” Jazz is an evolving extension of what went before it so how does one discern these associations if there are no references to the Jazz tradition by musicians on the current Jazz scene?

On The Drive Chris, Austin, Leon and Dylan test their mettle as improvisors by offering well-played and interesting improvisations on Jazz classics that include
Minority by Gigi Gryce and Ask Me Now by Monk and on Harry Warren’s You’re My Everything and Jimmy van Heusen’s Like Someone in Love.

And they do it without a net, so to speak, as this is a pianoless trio that relies very heavily on the bassists Boykins and Shamat to provide harmony for Chris much the same way that Gerry Mulligan’s pianoless quartet relied on bassist Bill Crow to provide the harmony for Jeru and Chet Baker.

Jim Eigo of Jazz Promo Services is handling the public relations for the group and he sent along the following media release for the new recording which provides detailed information about the musicians and the music on The Drive.

'The Sugar Hill Trio" comprised of multi-instrumentalist Chris Torkewitz, drummer Austin Walker and bassists Leon Boykins and Dylan Shamat, is a modern day innovative/avant-garde jazz combo whose wide breadth of musical repertoire extends and expands popular music from a time once forgotten. The musicians are actively continuing to work as internationally recognized freelance musicians performing around the world basing themselves out of Hartem New York City. "The Drive" has been recorded in two very spontaneous sessions at the Samurai Hotel Studios in Astoria/Queens. Many of the tracks are first takes and capture the moment.

Chris Torkewitz (tenor sax, flute, composition) Firmly rooted in the traditions of Western music and home-based in Modern Jazz, Chris Torkewitz took up studies
in Cuba at the age of 18. Re-settling to NYC in 2007 and being a part of the scene enabled him to merge his prior influences and find influences from the contemporary NYC jazz scene, Afro-Cuban rhythm culture, and European music traditions.

In 2013, he established his NYC-based jazz orchestra and the chamber project “Vista” showcasing his large ensemble compositions. Torkewitz shared the stage and recorded with many renowned world-class artists and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree (DMA) in performance, composition and education from the Manhattan School of Music.

Austin Walker (drums) Austin Walker is a drummer and percussionist who hails from Massachusetts. His style of drumming captivates with an uncanny ability to be explosive while supportive at the same time. Austin is now a modem drummer currently based out of New York City. In the past ten years, Austin has distinguished himself as a musician who has shared the stage with artist such as: Chris Potter, Luis Bonilla, Shai Maestro, Joe Sanders, Matt Ciohesy, Kurt Bacher, Gilad Hekselman, John Raymond, Sullivan Fortner, Tony Malaby, and Dan Tepfer.

Leon Boykins (bass) Lam Boykins has developed a reputation for tastefully blending music tradition with innovation. With several studio projects as a sideman, and countless worldwide performances under his belt. As an in-demand sideman, Leon prides himself in interpreting the artistic vision of each artist lhat he makes music with.

Dylan Shamat (bass) Dylan Shamat is a bassist, composer and educator based in New York City. Dyman was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota where he began his musical studies on the violin at the age of 4. He moved to New York in 2005 where he studied at the Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School. In 2010, Dylan was selected to participate in the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer Academy to learn from jazz greats Christian McBride, Dianne Reeves, Russell Malone and Terence Blanchard. He can be found performing in New York with Lea Delaria, Allan Harris, Cyrille Aimee and countless others as well as in the off-Broadway production of ‘Sleep No More.’

Label: Goschart Music
Release Date: JANUARY 6,2017
UPC Code: 701197395114

All Songs Composed/arranged/produced by: Chris Torkewitz & Austin Walker

Track listing w/composer credit and track time
1. Minority (Gigi Gryce/Totem Music) 6:27
2. Open Circle (Christian Torkewitz) 3:35
3. Spiral (John Coltrane / Jowcol Music) 4:12
4. Sunbeams (Christian Torkewitz) 3:08
5. The Night Has A Thousand Eyes (Jerome Brainin/Paramount Music) 5c55
6. The Drive (Oliver Nelson / Noslen Music) 3:02
7. You're My Everything (Harry Warren / Redwood Music LTD) 5:42
8. Handles (Christian Torkewitz) 5:26
9. Ask Me Now (Thelonious Monk/ Thelonious Music Corp.) 5:44
10. Like Someone in Love (Jimmy Van Heusen/ Bourne Co. Music Publishers) 3:50
11. Theme for Basie (Phineas Newborn, Jr. / Pamela Publishing Company) 4:12

The recording is available from:

The following audio only file showcases The Sugar Hill Trio’s unique style on pianist Phineas Newborn, Jr.’s classic Theme for Basie.

As a point in passing with reference to the Jazz Tradition, I’m guessing that the group’s derives its name from the “Sugar Hill” section in New York City that’s bound on the north by West 155th Street, on the south by West 145th Street, on the east by Edgecome Avenue and on the west by Amsterdam Avenue and that once was the home of Jazz luminaries such as Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and Thelonious Monk, among many other Stars of Jazz.

It would seem then that The Sugar Hill Trio is in good company.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Nat King Cole Sings and George Shearing Plays" - An Unlikely Pairing

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

“At the time of their births the chances of the two principals' in this lively and appealing album ever meeting, let alone combining forces in such an entrancing set of performances, would have been considered so remote as to be statistically insignificant. And on the face of it, what happened here probably should not have happened at all, for the two men could not have had more widely different backgrounds.
- Pete Welding, Jazz author, critic

“You never lose that Jazz feeling.”
- Nat “King” Cole to Don Freeman, Downbeat, October 6, 1950

“Some of the best news I've received in a long time came to me when I heard that one of my favorites albums of all times was to be re-released...the album I made with Nat Cole.
Words could never express the joy I felt during the entire time that this album was being made. There was, first of all, the meeting of the two musical minds. Then, there were the countless surprises that Nat threw at me. Let me give you an example. When Nat suggested that we do "Pick Yourself Up," my interest wasn't that high. I had recorded this in 1949 at a tempo which no longer excited me. Now, here came Nat with a very fresh approach...a tempo which would swing into the middle of the next year and a relaxed feeling that allowed time for the rather clever lyric to be thoroughly digested.
Ralph Carmichael, my partner in crime in the arranging department, always seemed to anticipate my musical thoughts and provided many of his own...thus making this collaboration most joyous.
I've worn out my copy of this album and the copies of many of my friends. Now, here it is on CD. This is why I say, "Some of the best news I've received in a long time came to me...." Enjoy it as much as I do.”
- George Shearing

When you reflect on the opening quotation by Pete Welding, the existence of the music on Nat King Cole Sings and George Shearing Plays could be the stuff that helps you believe in miracles.

Miracles notwithstanding, if your collection doesn’t include this recording, remedy that omission as soon as possible. You won’t regret it.

Aside from the fact that as pianists, both were enormous influences on the stylistic development of many of the great post World War II Jazz piano players, I always thought that George Shearing and Nat King Cole were responsible for some of the most beautiful Jazz ever created on the planet.

I was reminded of this fact recently went I heard on the car radio their version of the Bill Davis & Don Wolf tune - Azure-Te’. I [safely] hurried home from the errands that I was engaged in to locate the album containing their rendition of this song and, as a result, was pleasantly reacquainted with one of my all-time favorite albums – Nat “King” Cole Sings The George Shearing Quintet Plays [Capitol CDP 7 48332 2].

As an added bonus, when the recording was re-mastered and issued as a compact disc, Pete Welding was asked to provide the following informative and insightful insert notes which the editorial staff of JazzProfiles thought you might enjoy reviewing.

“At the time of their births the chances of the two principals' in this lively and appealing album ever meeting, let alone combining forces in such an entrancing set of performances, would have been considered so remote as to be statistically insignificant. And on the face of it, what happened here probably should not have happened at all, for the two men could not have had more widely different backgrounds. The singer, Nat "King" Cole, black, son of a Baptist minister, had been born March 17, 1917, in Birmingham, Ala., but was raised in Chicago where his family moved when he was still a youngster. The pianist, George Shearing, white, blind from birth, had been born on August 13, 1919, in London, England, where he was reared, studied music at The Linden Lodge School for the Blind, and spent the first three decades of his life. So, not only were the two distanced -and widely- by geography, but by profound cultural differences as well.

The likelihood of their paths ever crossing was slim indeed, but cross they did, and often enough so that, in time, it came to seem inevitable that one of those meetings would be memorialized on record. You hold the results in your hand. And while it would be fatuous to suggest they were somehow fated to make this album together, the incontrovertible fact is that with each passing year - as the two came of age, began pursuing careers in music, gained increasingly in experience, proficiency, mastery and, finally, great popularity - that eventuality came ever closer of being realized. The actuality took place in December of 1961 under the auspices of Capitol Records, to which both men were under contract, when at four recording sessions held on successive days the present set of performances was undertaken.

The common ground on which the two met was jazz, that vital and absorbing expressive idiom which is one of the glories of American music. Not only did Cole and Shearing share a deep commitment to this music, but each had perfected a singular mastery in its performance. Cole, let us not forget, had started his career as a jazz pianist and was well on the way to becoming one of the truly great ones until his accelerating success as a popular singer gradually led to his putting aside this aspect of his talents. As a young piano student in Chicago, he had been drawn to the music, and specifically to the playing of Earl "Fatha" Hines, one of the most brilliant, original and influential pianists in all of jazz history. Fired by Hines' compelling, audacious music, Cole set about mastering the rudiments of jazz piano, assimilated a number of other influences, and by the late 1930s had fashioned a mature, distinctive approach of his own, light, graceful and swingingly melodic  much like Teddy Wilson's in fact. His fast-growing command - was evidenced as early as 1936, when he made his first recordings with a sextet led by his bassist brother Eddie Cole.

During the remainder of the decade he sharpened his skills through playing engagements in his native city, which led to his forming a band to tour with the road company of Eubie Blake's Shuffle Along musical revue. The show folded in Long Beach, Ca., but Cole soon found work as a solo pianist in various Southern California nightspots. He formed his celebrated trio for a brief engagement at Los Angeles' Swanee Inn, and proved so popular that the trio was held over for more than a year. Incidentally, it was there, in answer to a patron's insistent requests, that Cole began singing, meeting with such favorable response that he soon was doing it more and more frequently. An engagement at Hollywood's Radio Room, where he was heard by record store proprietor Glenn Wallichs, led to Cole's being asked to join the artist roster of the record firm Wallichs, songwriter Johnny Mercer and film executive B.G. DeSylva had formed in late 1942, Capitol Records.

The rest is, as they say, history. From his very first recording session for the new label Cole achieved success with a song he had written Straighten Up And Fly Right, which reportedly sold half-a-million copies within a few months of its release. In the ensuing years Cole soon had outstripped that promising start, achieving phenomenal success with a long, uninterrupted succession of hit records, more than 75 of his singles placing on the lists of best-selling records from 1944 right up to his untimely death in 1965, many of them among the most successful popular recordings of our times, These were complemented by sizable numbers of long-play albums in which he demonstrated his fetching, seductive way with classic ballad standards, in the interpretation of which he was rivaled only by such superlative vocalists as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and others of this rank, and in occasional instrumental programs which showed he had lost none of his formidable pianistic wizardry.

At much the same time Cole was investigating jazz, George Shearing was doing the same several thousand miles away in London. The blind pianist had first been attracted to the music through the recordings of Fats Waller, Teddy Wilson and other leading American jazz musicians he had heard as a teenager. Like Cole, he taught himself how to play the challenging new music, and by the middle 1930s had progressed so well that he began performing at jam sessions and in small clubs around London, which soon led to his first recordings, made in 1939 for Decca Records. Membership in the orchestra of Claude Bampton, comprised of 17 blind musicians, was followed by solo work, several years as featured pianist with the popular Ambrose Orchestra, and continuing recording activity under his own name, primarily as a soloist, though occasionally with small groups, as he gained in confidence and ability. Through the 1940s, in fact, his domination of his instrument in British jazz circles was virtually uncontested, Shearing topping the annual Melody Maker polls as the nation's foremost pianist seven years running.

A less dedicated or ambitious musician might have been satisfied with this achievement, but not Shearing. He knew that in order to grow further as a player he would have to test himself against the music's best and brightest. While this occasionally was possible in London when, as happened from time to time, he was able to play with visiting American jazz musicians, he felt the best way to go about it would be to place himself in a situation that ensured his being challenged by them on a steady, continuing basis. This, of course, meant moving to the U.S., and specifically to New York City, then as now the major center of jazz activity and a virtual proving ground for the serious player. Accordingly, Shearing made the move in December of 1947 and spent most of the following year performing at New York's Three Deuces, first as a soloist, later leading his own trio and quartet.

In 1949 he made his first recordings as leader of the George Shearing Quintet, one of the most distinctive and freshest-sounding small groups in all of modem jazz. The invigoratingly novel voicing Shearing devised for its instrumentation  - piano, guitar, vibraharp, bass and drums - was bright, appealingly elegant and the very epitome of "cool." Graceful, exuberant, finely detailed, easily accessible to the casual listener yet possessing more than enough focused invention to satisfy the most demanding jazz fan, the quintet was an immediate sensation. It quickly became one of the most popular small groups of the period, touring and performing incessantly, and enjoying great popular success with its recordings as well, a number of them, September In The Rain for example, among the most played records of the time. During the 1950s, in fact, the quintet's shimmering, distinctive sound was all but ubiquitous, heard everywhere - on radio and television, in films, theaters and nightclubs, at wedding receptions, country club dances and every like event that called for sophisticated music. In the decades since, it has been one of the most enduringly popular of all instrumental groups and its leader widely regarded for the consistently high standards of poised, elegant musicianship he has maintained in the group, which have made its music so exhilarating and enjoyable.

It was these qualities that made its collaboration with Nat Cole so special. And so apt. For the singer, who had made his earliest vocal recordings with the backing of his own jazz trio, to be accompanied by so adroit and accomplished a group as Shearing's must have been something like coming home to a familiar, welcoming environment. And for Shearing, a more than passable vocalist himself, as he's demonstrated on occasion, working with Cole was a special, joyous experience - as satisfying artistically as it was gratifying personally - one which the pianist recalls with great fondness and joy as one of the high points of his career, more than a quarter-century after it occurred.

As the enclosed compact disc shows so clearly, George's recollection is correct. What he, Cole and co-orchestrator Ralph Carmichael (whose contribution should not pass unmentioned) produced over those four days in December, 1961, was indeed memorable music, as enjoyable and deeply satisfying today as when first recorded. Each man was intimately familiar with, and appreciative of the other's music, which made their collaboration not only possible but stimulating and enjoyable as well. As a result, the recording sessions went smoothly and quickly-and happily, Shearing recalls -producing a program of performances that, because of the mutual respect Cole and Shearing had for one another, breathe warmth and affection and sincerity.

And above all else beauty It's the presence of this latter quality that has caused Shearing to have, as he notes, worn out several copies of this album over the last two-and-a-half decades. That's something that you and I, thanks to the technological miracle that has given us the compact disc, will never have to worry about. We can play this music as often as George has, and more, and it'll never wear out. And that's something, I think you'll agree, we can take the greatest pleasure in  - enduring music in an enduring format, Nat "King" Cole sings - George Shearing plays; we listen and marvel. Again and again and again, as often as we like.”

- Pete Welding

The following video contains a nice collection of images of both Nat and George with the Pick Yourself Up cut from the CD serving as the sound track.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Ralph Moore - "This I Dig Of You"

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

I took a break from Jazz some time in the early 1970’s. I didn’t like where the music was going at the time so I decided to check out for awhile.

Many of the independent Jazz record labels were gone including Pacific Jazz [Dick Bock], Contemporary [Lester Koenig] on the Left Coast and Blue Note [without Alfred Lion] and Riverside [Orrin Keepnews] in The Big Apple.

The conglomerates hadn’t quite made their mark - Columbia was not as yet Sony, The Universal Music Group was still on the horizon, Warner-Elektra-Atlantic was still a decade or so away and EMI was still primarily a British recording and electronic corporation and not as yet a multinational amalgamation.

I got back into the music in the mid and late 1980s largely because of the recorded convenience of the compact disc and the huge LP reissue campaign that was characteristic of the nascent period of the digital music revolution. [Ironically, it was this very digitalization that brought into full swing the flurry of consolidations that resulted in the recorded music conglomerates.]

One day, while searching around a music store not too far from my office in San Francisco during a lunch hour break, I notice the name of an “old friend” on some discs released on the Landmark label.

Orrin Keepnews, the producer of so many legendary recordings for Riverside Records was back in business.

The discs in question were by Ralph Moore, a young tenor saxophone player, and they were entitled Images [Landmark LCD-1520-2] and Furthermore [Landmark 1526-2], respectively. [Perhaps “Furthermore” should have been titled “Further Moore” for those who enjoys puns?!]

Moore’s tenor sax was joined by Terence Blanchard’s trumpet on the former and Roy Hargrove’s trumpet on the latter and both are supported by a superb rhythm section of Benny Green on piano, Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums.

I knew hardly anything about any of these musicians at the time but my ears told me that they were the real deal.

Speaking of “ears” [and eyes], in order to better familiarize myself with both the musicians and the music on these recordings I relied heavily on the following insert notes for each of these recordings.

Images [Landmark LCD-1520-2] - Stuart Troup [New York Newsday]

“A great musician is distinguished by his ears as well as his chops. And Ralph Moore, at 32, has obviously heard, absorbed, and assimilated the rewarding grit of jazz— and embroidered it with singular intensity.

He has gained acceptance from such bandleaders as J.J.Johnson, Freddie Hubbard, Roy Haynes, and Horace Silver. But even more impressive than those credentials is the convincing evidence we have right here in these recordings.

Moore is London-born, where "my mother got me interested in playing, at the age of 14. I was playing trumpet at first, but my teacher had a tenor sax and I liked the way it looked. It turned me on." A year later, Ralph emigrated to central California to live with his American father. "The music program at the high school included a jazz band," he says. "And then I spent a couple of years at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Early on, I listened to Stanley Turrentine, Sonny Stitt, and Charlie Parker. Then all of a sudden it was Coltrane."

He needn't have confessed; the evidence is clear.

When Moore reached New York, he was quickly found and nurtured by Haynes, then Silver, and moved easily into the company of Hubbard, the Mingus Dynasty Band, and orchestras led by Dizzy Gillespie and Gene Harris. More recently he has taken part in J.J.Johnson's return to full-scale jazz activity.

What Ralph now brings to Images is exactly what all of the above found in him: a sense of adventure, understanding, and innovation. There is one important addition; as his own leader, he has been able to pick the repertoire and the sidemen of his choice. The compositions are divided between newer material and some unhackneyed, overlooked gems from the earlier years of the modern jazz tradition. In particular, his use of works by tenor players Hank Mobley and Joe Henderson, plus a personal tribute to John Coltrane, makes clear one meaning of the album title. And his accompanying musicians form a support system that provides a resilient cushion and complementary strengths.

The basic unit of pianist Benny Green, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Kenny Washington meshes solidly from the opener, a Moore original called Freeway.This is one of four cuts calling on Terence Blanchard, a supple, often poignant trumpeter who has earned his high visibility during the past few years. He and Ralph play unison passages on the head, a modal excursion through 16 bars, with a 12-measure bridge.

Moore gently nudges trombonist Johnson's haunting ballad, Enigma, with his melancholy tone, and caps it with the coda that Miles Davis played on the original record. "It's sort of my tribute to J.J., with whom I worked quite a bit during 1988," he says.

Episode from a Village Dance is a tune by Donald Brown, one of several impressive newer pianist/composers. It is underpinned by infectious Latin rhythms—including deft conga playing by Victor See-Yuen. Moore's tenor is warm; Blanchard's trumpet is searing. When producer Orrin Keepnews asked Brown to explain the unusual title, "he said he was trying to get the feeling of a carnival in a South American village, and this piece is just one aspect of what's going on there."

Ralph supplies a plaintive but tension-free edge to Morning Star, a medium-tempo tune by Rodgers Grant (who spent a number of years playing piano and writing solidly for Mongo Santamaria). Moore and Green solo with warmth over the impeccable foundation supplied by drummer Washington.

This I Dig of You, a Hank Mobley original, evokes the spirit of hard bop.The piece has remained undeservedly ignored since the late saxophonist recorded it on Blue Note years ago. "Kenny and Peter really hooked up well throughout, but especially on this one," notes Moore. "Kenny doesn't just play drums, he plays music. He breathes." Keepnews had a comment of his own to add about these two players: "I told them that unrelated bass and drum teams with the same last name was an important jazz tradition"—the reference, of course, is to Sam Jones and Philly Joe.

Blues for John, as indicated, is dedicated to Coltrane. "When I was writing the head," the young tenor player says, "I was thinking about Trane." It's a fine example of Ralph's adventurousness. And, as he points out: "Benny plays his brains out."

Moore thoroughly explores Joe Henderson's Punjab, stamping the punchy, percussive melody with his own imprimatur. "We played it a little faster than Joe did" — but with no less imagination.

Elmo Hope, the great bop pianist who died in 1967 at age 43, was responsible for the closer, One Second, Please, an unusual, even arch, piece on which Ralph displays a forceful, almost swaggering attack.

It's all powerful evidence that those of us concerned by the passing, in recent years, of such heavyweights as Sonny Stitt, Budd Johnson, Lockjaw Davis, Zoot Sims and Al Cohn, and Charlie Rouse, can at least feel confident about the future of jazz tenor.”

Furthermore [Landmark 1526-2] - Orrin Keepnews

“One of the greatest satisfactions in my line of work has come from observing that magic sequence I sometimes think of as "crossing the line." Occasionally it is swift, but more often it sneaks up gradually but inevitably, as a musician you're working with breaks through the invisible, intangible (but quite real) barrier tha distinguishes the merely "promising" from the accepted, the interesting from the important. Calendar age has nothing to do with it: some achieve this status quite early, while others may spend a lifetime waiting. Musical maturity is very relevant; the event is best described — if you'll forgive the cliche — as separating the men from the boys.

By the middle of the year in which these numbers were recorded, RALPH MOORE had crossed the line. There was no single blinding flash to mark the occasion, but there were many signposts along the way:

Still in his early 30s, Moore has worked with a dazzling array of leaders: Horace Silver, Roy Haynes, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, J. J. Johnson—which sounds like (and is) great training, but led one critic to wonder if he weren't destined to be "a sideman for everyone." But that same writer, Peter Watrous, reviewing Ralph's previous Landmark album in Musician magazine, pronounced it "a stunning leap forward" and called him "an individual voice."

On the first Sunday in 1990, the Calendar section of the Los Angeles Times devoted a page to five acoustic jazz artists "most likely to have an impact. . . in the coming decade" and included Moore, citing his Landmark debut as "one of the most rewarding and listenable jazz releases in recent memory."

Last fall's Phillip Morris-sponsored "Superband" world tour, by an almost entirely veteran orchestra with only three young players, had Ralph as one of two tenors, affording him the honor and pleasure of teaming with all-timer James Moody.

When teenage trumpeter Roy Hargrove (who plays an important role on this album) made an early sideman appearance at New York's legendary Village Vanguard, it was in a quintet led by Moore: Roy's management were looking to Ralph as the comparative veteran to introduce the newcomer — an unaccustomed task, but one he might as well get used to.

Following these and other examples, it was hardly any kind of surprise when the 1990 critics polls of both Down Beat and JazzTimes magazines agreed on him as tenor saxophone winner in the category known, respectively, as "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition" and "Emerging Talent." No surprise, but a very fitting pair of exclamation points for a sentence such as: Ralph Moore has arrived!!

A good deal of documentation for all this is to be heard on the seven selections here: the power and imagination, the swiftly-growing command and assurance. Ralph has now taken steps to assemble a regular working group of his own, and this could well be its permanent rhythm section (with either drummer).  Up to now, he has worked with them as often as possible. When a schedule conflict made Kenny Washington (who had combined superbly with Peter Washington and Benny Green on Ralph's previous Landmark recording) miss the Vanguard week, Victor Lewis had been called in. When Victor was unavailable for the first of these two sessions, Kenny stepped in! There clearly was no problem either way in achieving a fully-meshed unit.

On four selections, the addition of Roy Hargrove makes it the familiar post-bop trumpet/tenor front line, but actually Roy makes it anything but routine. There is much empathy between the two horns, and the younger man has a whole lot to add here. To be strictly accurate, Hargrove can no longer be called a teenager, since he has by now turned 20, but he is very likely to be recognized as part of the great tradition of early-blooming trumpet players.

A well-balanced repertoire combines three examples of Ralph's writing with contributions from Hargrove and Green and adds a soulful version of Neal Hefti's Girl Talk and an impressive quartet treatment of Thelonious Monk's seldom-attempted Monk's Dream. Altogether a proper celebration of the solid status of Ralph Moore.”

I put together the following video tribute to Ralph and “the boys in the band” using the Hank Mobley This I Dig of You because I have always dug the tune and because the harmony that Terence Blanchard plays is in the lower register which is sadly not often heard on the instrument.