Reference: FSRCD 5059
Bar code: 8427328650595
I first met Gary Smulyan in 2004 at the festival “generations” in Frauenfeld (Switzerland) as a young masterclass student, Gary was one of the teachers and also featured soloist of the festival big band. I was very impressed by his incredible musicianship and knowledge, just a true master of the saxophone and the music I tried to play back then: JAZZ. Gary Smulyan is considered among critics and fans as the outstanding baritone saxophonist, started with Woody Herman in 1978, and joined the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra in 1980. In his stellar career Gary has worked with everybody and I was lucky enough to get the chance to play with him more or less 10 years after our first meeting on a nice quartet tour in 2014. Pianist Olivier Hutman already joined us on this tour and we kept getting together for a tour every year since then.
One of Gary’s biggest influences is Pepper Adams, so in May 2017 we decided together to form a quintet following the classic Pepper Adams “Encounter” recording with Zoot Sims, Tommy Flanagan, Ron Carter and Elvin Jones. Our first choice for the tenor saxophone chair was Ralph Moore who is another master of this music. Ralph worked with the Horace Silver Quintet, with legends and groups just as Roy Haynes, Oscar Peterson, The Mingus Dynasty, Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Barron, Ray Brown, J.J. Johnson, Cedar Walton, and many more. Ralph Moore is not only a brilliant musician, he is also just a wonderful, soulful and warm person, great to have him around on and off the bandstand!
My partners in the rhythm-section are Olivier Hutman from Paris on piano and the Swiss bassist Stephan Kurmann. I also met both of them several years ago and had the pleasure to work with them on various occasions over the years. Olivier and Stephan are very experienced musicians, deeply rooted in the music and highly appreciated as soloists and accompanists.
The repertoire of the band follows the classic “Encounter” recording as well, a nice variety of originals by masters such as Thad Jones, Joe Henderson, Tommy Flanagan and of course Pepper Adams. The compositions require strong saxophone section playing on the heads by Gary and Ralph, supported by an active rhythm-section, and provide the perfect ground for extensive soloing for all the band members.
What you hear on this release is the result of a three-week tour which ended at the Bird’s Eye Basel with two nights of live-recording. It was a big pleasure to be part of this tour and recording, thanks to the Bird’s Eye for making it happen and of course to Gary, Ralph, Olivier and Stephan for great playing and wonderful moments on the road! Already looking forward to the next one!!!
—Bernd Reiter (July, 2019)
"One of jazz’s best baritone saxists, Gary Smulyan, teams up with the Coltrane-inspired tenor of Ralph Moore on this sizzling 2018 concert recorded at the Bird’s Eye in Basel, Switzerland. The rest of the team, Olivier Hutman/p, Stephan Kurmann/b and Bernd Reiter/dr are crisp and adroit, cooking on the bebop pieces like “Elusive” and the mercurial tempo’d “In and Out.” Smulyan’s got a gigantic sound on the bari, sounding like a growling V8 engine on the relaxed and warm “Old Folks” and forming a formidable front line with Moore on “Verdandi” and the faster than normal “Body and Soul.” Moore gives advanced harmonics to “Body and Soul” and Hutman’s got strong digital muscles flexing throughout, with everyone getting a chance to stretch out and get an aria. The muscles are flexing at this Gold’s Gym of a concert set."
George W. Harris (October 14, 2019)
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