I'm Just a Lucky So and So
Paul Gormley Quartet
"THE MUSIC OF DUKE ELLINGTON" - VOL.2
The combined biographical sketches of these acclaimed jazzmen would fill a sizable volume. Because of space limitations, only part of their elaborate credits is included here:
Leader-bassist PAUL GORMLEY has played or recorded with numerous jazz greats over the years, including: Woody Herman, Vido Musso, Joe Williams, Dick Cary, Mundell Lowe, Gene Estes, Bobby Sherwood, Jack Sheldon, and Jimmy Rowels. Paul has toured Japan with Percy Faith, Billy Vaughn, and Peanuts Hucko's Benny Goodman Tribute Big Band, and performed in South America with Ray Conniff. In his role as Producer of this CD, Paul selected the personnel, chose the music, arranged the tunes, and did the mixing.
SAM MOST began his career at 18 playing saxophone in Tommy Dorsey's orchestra. After appearing with groups led by Boyd Raeburn and Don Redman, he changed to flute. When he was 23, Sam's first recording "Undercurrent Blues" established him as the first bop flutist. The following year he won Down Beat Magazine's Critics "New Star" Award and recorded with Paul Quinichette's All- Stars. Sam later toured South America, India, and the Far East as a member of Buddy Rich's Orchestra. He received international acclaim following the release of his landmark recordings on the Xanadu label in the late '70s. Sam is also the author of two highly regarded instructional books.
Guitarist LARRY KOONSE has worked as a member of the John Dankworth Quartet with Cleo Laine, toured with Mel Torme', Terry Gibbs, Bob Brookmeyer, and toured Japan as a featured artist with the Percy Faith Orchestra. Larry has been a featured soloist with the L.A. Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra since graduating as a Bachelor of Music from the University of Southern California. He has been a faculty member at the California Institute of the Arts for the last 15 years.
Guitarist BARRY ZWEIG began his love affair with the guitar at the age of fifteen when he heard the sound of a jazz guitar on the radio. His first recording session, at 17, was at Capitol. While playing in the Army band in Colorado Springs, he studied with the legendary guitarist Johnny Smith. In 1966, while in the Buddy Rich band, he played with Sam Most. His studio credits include five years on the Dinah Shore Show. He toured with Natalie Cole, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Peggy Lee. Barry's records include sessions with the Gene Estes Quartet (with Paul Gormley), Abe Most, Keely Smith, and others.
PAUL KREIBICH has been playing the drums since he was nine years old. He studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass., Los Angeles City College, and Orange Coast College. Paul toured and recorded with the late Gene Harris from 1995 through 2000, and performed extensively throughout the U.S., Japan, Europe, and South America with Ray Charles' Orchestra, the Woody Herman Orchestra, the Gerald Wiggins Trio, Rosemary Clooney, Anita O'Day, and others. His recording credits include sessions with Diana Reeves, Spike Robinson, Vic Lewis, Conte Candoli, Lennie Niehaus, etc.
MUSIC OF THE DUKE ELLINGTON ORCHESTRA
All successful producers of jazz CDs have a personal winning formula. Initially, they always engage first-class artists. They also meticulously select an eclectic program of outstanding musical numbers that have not been excessively worn by the years. In some special cases, the program is based on the works of an American genius composer.
Paul Gormley, fully aware of these factors, confirms their validity with this CD titled "I'M JUST A LUCKY SO AND SO." Frankly, "Luck" had nothing to do with this project. Gormley adhered to the formula that successfully launched his earlier release a few years ago. ("Drop Me Off In Harlem," Talking Dog Music 1001)
Opening this program, the title number, "I'M JUST A LUCKY SO AND SO," ideally introduces the stellar players and leads us into their perceptive interpretations of nine first rate segments of American popular music. Whenever "Volume Two" appears in the title, it is an accurate indication that the follow-up release is based on the initial CD's success. This program, with the same instrumentation, once again, is wisely drawn from the rich and voluminous body of works of Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, positively ranked among the elite song writers of our time.
Paul provides his carefully chosen sidemen with deft arrangements that produce a creative environment - and they rise to the challenge with high-level contributions. While his stellar colleagues often express their improvisational skills, they are also very supportive, and subtly merge their individual talents into a richly coordinated sound.
"SOPHISTICATED LADY," one of Ellington's most romantic creations, composed in 1932, was initially based on a melodic fragment played by Otto "Toby" Hardwick, longtime mainstay in the Duke's stellar reed section. In Paul Gormley's unique arrangement, the "Lady," dressed in a lilting Samba garb, is rhythmically introduced by drummer Paul Kreibich'a authentic Brazilian pandeiro and Samba whistle. Spurred by Barry Zweig's Latin tones, it soon generates a pervasive beat reminiscent of Carnival time in Rio.
"JOHNNY COME LATELY" AND "DAY DREAM" were among composer Billy Strayhorn's early contributions to the Ellington play book. He was Duke's closest associate for almost 30 years and wrote and co-arranged many of the band's feature numbers including their theme song, "Take the A Train."
"ISFAHAN," the most recent Ellington composition on this program, is from his "Far East Suite." collaboration with Billy Strayhorn based on Ellington's Middle East tour for the U.S. State Department in 1963. It is considered Duke's best work of the sixties. The exotic arrangement of "ISFAHAN," a musical tribute to the beautiful ancient Persian city, concentrates on the warm sensuality that appears in much of Strayhorn's work. Sam Most's sultry tones on alto flute embellish the eroticism that the Ellington\Strayhorn composition evoked.
"C-JAM BLUES," was originally recorded by clarinetist Barney Bigard leading a small group of Ellington sidemen. Its simple format was expanded around a single note with band members playing blues around it. After more than six decades, it remains a favorite launching pad for jam sessions. Although this version is crafted in a more intimate setting, Sam Most and Larry Koonse, trading four-bar flute and guitar statements, tastefully kindle their own jam sequence before the final blues chorus.
"PARIS BLUES," was the title tune from Ellington's score for the 1961 film that starred Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, Louis Armstrong, and the Ellington Orchestra. It was originally written as a piano theme, but Paul Gonsalves dubbed the saxophone solo that Sidney Poitier appears to be playing during the film. Sam Most, switching to clarinet, almost creates a sound of a much larger band.
"I'M BEGINNING TO SEE THE LIGHT" was originally written as an Ellington instrumental, a collaboration with his alto saxophone star Johnny Hodges. When Don George's lyrics were added, Harry James rushed into Columbia Records' Hollywood studio and recorded the number featuring his new vocalist Kitty Kallen. Ironically, the James recording achieved a #1 rating on "Your Hit Parade" before the Duke's recording appeared. Leader Paul Gormley steps forward to put his own spin on "I'M BEGINNING TO SEE THE LIGHT" during two tasty string bass choruses that are delicately buoyed by Kreibich's wire brushes. Sam Most's expressive flute and Barry Zweig's suave guitar figures sustain the feeling. Ellington would have loved this arrangement.
"IT DON'T MEAN A THING IF IT AIN'T GOT THAT SWING," the earliest Ellington number on this program, is the Duke's 1932 hit that firmly established the word "swing" in our musical vocabulary. Less than a decade later, we were deeply involved in a rampant musical period appropriately dubbed the "Swing Era." On this closing number, Koonse, Most, Gormley, and Kreibich underscore the essence of Duke's profound title - and conclude with two choruses of swinging exchanges.
Fortunately, we now have an additional 51 minutes with The Paul Gormley Quartet's insightful interpretation of the music of Duke Ellington. These tranquil numbers provide an opportunity to hear the remarkable West Coast jazzmen taking us on another melodic tour that provides a fresh glitter to timeless melodies; some of which have not shimmered on the musical horizon for years. Repeated plays will reveal the true strength of these cerebral performances. You will find that there is far more here then what initially meets the ear.
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