The HJR is a fluid-drive dynamic ensemble of very creative folks which means that people drop in and out of participation over the course of time. That's academic bullshit for saying that I have two lists of the musicians I'd like to team up with.
One list is just the folks playing instruments that I'd want for any sort of combo.
Easy-up, a quartet would do. Or a quintet for that latin flavor. The usual:
- a trumpet player who has a light touch & clear sense of melody & latin phrasing.
- a bass player at home with latin rhythm & enough range to hear deeply.
- a piano player who doesn't always treat the instrument like a timbale and who appreciates Bill Evans, Warren Bernhardt & even a couple ounces of Monk.
- a percussionist who can at least appreciate Joe Morello & doesn't always sound like Buddy Rich.
- a tasteful conguero, even if he or she (thus una conguera) weren't from Puerto Rico or Cuba.
Generic gang of folks & all that. Getting real creative (and paid enough to keep these cats around from one week to the next), I'd go for a trumpet, trombone, 'nother sax or woodwind (including flute), bass (guitar or "upright"), piano (and on some occasions a Hammond B3), standard trap drums (known in latino music as "battería"), maybe congas & timbales. And a lot of patient people to play 'em all. (And operators are standing
by to take your call, should you live in my neck of the woods & want to try tolerating my own playing.)
And then there's the musicians I enjoy hearing and wouldn't mind sitting in with, as if . . .
KeyboardsGeorge McPherson used to play at Ace Davis' Jazz Lab. I'd already met him a few years earlier (1964-1965) at an occasional jam session that would happen at a local "beatnik" coffee house in Dayton. I understand he's still around.
Michel Camilo is one of the new (to me) latin pianists who bring the sound of the Caribbean to jazz with such a sweet touch. He's such a joy to hear. If you ain't heard him yet, then go to the links page and check out his stuff.
Warren Bernhardt has the most lyrical style I've heard in a long time. He's played with many top-line bands, done concert tours & all that. The guy's got technical abilities that I can only dream of. It'd be sweet to sit one tune with him just once.
Bill Evans is a tragic example of the parts of jazz music that I'm glad I missed. And it goes without saying that playing in a group with Bill Evans would have pressed me to the limits of my very minimalist creativity. But what a sound . . .
Gene Harris, bless his soul, was more than a pianist. He was a gentle sort of good-ol-fashion human being. I had a chance to just sit & talk with him a couple times when he was playing at Gilly's in Dayton, Ohio. What a pleasure it would have been to just cruise through something bluesy with him.
Jaki Byard always catches my attention. He's predictable only in that you can expect to be surprised. Many years ago I spent a lot of time listening to his records. Now I have to restart the collection with CDs.
Hammond B3 ('cause there ain't nothin' better)
Piano & Electric Piano
Charlie "Tres" Johnson played in the high school band. He had a helluva church touch on the keys. I often wonder whatever happened to him & the other guys I knew from those distant times.
Brother Jack McDuff, well, what can I say. One of my friends from high school turned me on to Brother Jack back around 1963 or 1964 with the tune "Rock Candy." And if you have to ask, you'll never understand.
Joey DiFranchesco makes it look so easy. Especially when he gets that "cookin'" smile on his face.
Jimmy Smith was just too good to have stayed around as long as he did, old soul.
Anders Young is my younger son. If he could read music he'd fit right into whatever mix I'd dream up. What can I say.
Scott Lafaro died to early. Him and Bill Evans both.
Niels Henning Orsted-Petersen always impresses me with his graceful, fluid technique. And he's got such a beautiful melodic sense. And he's from Scandinavia, just like my paternal grandmother . . .
Standard Trap Set-Up
John Dessinger is Cindy's uncle. When we were first introduced, we spent the rest of the time boring everybody else silly talking about jazz music, musicians, style & everything else. I have yet to show up at his house & force him to tolerate me.
Rick Alexander was one of those kids who learned to play like Joe Morello. I haven't seen Rick for maybe 25 or 30 years & I often wonder if he's still playing. Helluva good musician.
Roy Haynes first got my attention on a Jackie McLean disk called It's Time (available on CD as an import [TOCJ-9035]). The interplay between him & all the musicians on that album was so crisp & intense.
Latin/Afro-Latin Percussion (Congas, Timbales &c)
technique. And he's got such a beautiful melodic sense. And he's from Scandinavia, just like my paternal grandmother . . .
Mongo Santamaria was the first jazz conguero I ever heard, and that was over 35 years ago, when I was a kid with a shortwave radio. He's got the touch, Mongo does.
Pancho Sanchez played a couple times at a local suburbanite "latin-american festival." The way his band sounds, well, it makes me go back in mind to the two years I spent in Puerto Rico.
Jim Hall doesn't get the credit he deserves, even after playing with Paul Desmond all those years ago. Chord voicings, melody lines, all that, it's what makes me wish I could sit in a couple nights.
"Spoons" Montgomery was the regular guitarist at Ace Davis' place. Sometimes he didn't seem to be of this earth. But he had such a bluesy touch. I was lucky to have had the chance to play alongside him.
George Benson I first heard on that "Rock Candy" cut mentioned above. And then I find out he sings too. What a deal.
Kenny Burrell used to come through Dayton, back in the day, to play at a club/lounge on the west side. I always enjoyed his melodic lines & the way he comped. Back when I was a kid & everything was new and sweet.
Ian Young is my eldest son. He used to play sax and now has a fancy-pants computerized midi thingie that lets him play any instrument via a woodwind keyworks doodad. All very technical.
Bill Davis handed me his alto one night at Ace's place & demanded that I let him play my tenor. Then we proceeded to smile at each other as the blues bounced and bounded around the place. Them's was the days, them's was.
Rahsaan Roland Kirk would probably have never let me on the stand, but it would have been fun if he had. He had such a strong rhythm & blues melodic sense. Another missed soul.
Paul Desmond was the guy who made me want to learn to play sax. The simple charm of those innocently complex melodies that poured out of his horn, that dragged me in on a hook. I still wish that I could sound half as good as he did, even in his last years.
Lee Konitz had this unpretentious style. Sometimes I wonder if he & Desmond & Stan Getz didn't all get trained by the same Lester Young-type teachin' guy.
Brass: Trumpets, Flugelhorns &c
Charles Tolliver (trumpet) is way past my ability, but his interplay on the one album of his music that I have (the Jackie McLean It's Time CD) speaks volumes about his style.
Dave Harlow (trumpet) showed up one afternoon at college & started playing tunes I'd never heard before. We got together a couple half-dozen times and then he disappeared into the military. Helluva good musicians.
Chuck Mangione (trumpet, from back around 1964 off his album Recuerdo) has been through so many styles. He's 60 years old now, which bother's me 'cause I'm 59. It'd be fun, wouldn it?
Trombones & Bass Horns
Charlie Johnson from the high school days also played trombone.
Buddy Laws teaches at Wright State University. He's more of a musician than I'll ever be. Expecting him to let me stand on the stage next to him would border on the miraculous.
And that's the dream sheet. On a more rational and realistic level, having the folks I used to know just suddenly show up as if drawn together by gravity I can only think will happen in another universe. Be a sweet universe, wouldn't it? All that music in the air all day & night.
Maybe I could get my youngest's band mates to come over & try to keep the old man happy. Or join up with some Mexican guys from around the area who have musical abilities. Never know. If it happens, you'll find out about it here.© Copyright 2005 Nils R. Bull Young
If you want to see what tunes I can play, click on the pointer . . .