"...a thick, sweaty psychedelic funk masterpiece." - Philadelphia Magazine
There are thousands of fantastic small group records out there, and I've compiled a smattering of classics to get you started. This is by no means a complete list, and I hope to bring you more soon. Until then, in no particular order, here's 12 albums you should hear.
Here's a transcription of drummer Bill Stewart trading 8s on the tune "Wee", as heard on John Scofield's record EnRoute. Listen to the track below (it'll start at 5:53) for the transcribed portion. This track is killer, so it's worth listening to the whole tune!
All About Jazz recently reviewed a pair of releases from The University of the Arts, including records from both the Transfusion ensemble and the "Z" Big Band. I was a member of the latter, and was honored to be a part of this recording session. Our set featured a solid set of tunes from Count Basie, Quincy Jones, and many others.
"This truly large group (five trumpets and five trombones!) maintains the characteristic excitement of Basie's music but also brings to it a modern, Gerald Wilson-like sensibility..."
Read on for more, or take a listen to the record here!
The water's safe...
An unreleased set of untreated studio cuts, replete with unfettered ferocity.
A prehistoric beast of a band, featuring Greg Johnson on saxophone and EWI, Scott Kruser on guitars, Erek Kapusta on keyboards, Mike Dougherty on bass, and myself hitting things.
Formed in 2007, played some shows around Pennsylvania.
Released debut album, Edible , in 2009.
Went back into the studio in 2011, and tracked some new material. They're unfinished tracks - this is the band raw and unaffected. Featuring compositions from Greg Johnson, Scott Kruser, and Erek Kapusta.
Recorded with Dave Villani
The debut album from a Jazz/Fusion/Funk/Classical beast of a band.
Megalodon has been in gestation for years now, mostly through various groups I've been in with my good pal Greg Johnson. In the summer of 2009, the five members first convened: Greg Johnson, Saxophone; Scott Kruser, Guitar; Erek Kapusta, Keyboards; Michael Dougherty, Bass; Yours Truly, Drums. Armed with some fresh charts by Greg and Scott, we played our first show EVER at the Central PA Festival of the Arts in State College - on a sunny Friday afternoon at the Festival Shell. We performed around SC a few more times in the ensuing days, and then went our separate ways for a full year.
Our devotion to the prehistoric beast pulled us back together in the summer of 2010, but this time with an agenda: record an album, and get this thing going. In June, we did just that - spent a week rehearsing our faces off, and two days with Dave Villani in Altoona recording. The result is Edible, a record of epic proportions that we're quite proud of. We released it in October of 2010, and are currently hocking it at all of the finest retailers:
A swingin' studio recording from the 2008 University of the Arts Big Band, featuring the music of Count Basie.
Megalodon performed at JazzPA's 2009 Summer Jazz Celebration, and the Daily Collegian spoke with me about our group, and the proliferation of one of America's most original art forms. The annual festival hopes to keep jazz accessible, and to attract younger listeners to this great American music.
Click the link below to read the full article
A lively jazz recording from the South Jersey guitarist and his band.
Check out the article from Penn State's Daily Collegian about our Fall concert. A great program is in store, and was happy to have the concert covered by the University newspaper. I will be playing drums in the top big band, Centre Dimensions, and the night will be rounded out by two others : Inner and Outer Dimensions. As Graduate Assistant in the Jazz department, I'll be directing the latter. From the Collegian:
Outer Dimensions will play some Duke Ellington and Count Basie charts, such as Basie's "Shiny Stockings," said Charlie Heim (graduate-music education), Outer Dimensions' band director.
An arrangement of "Birdland" by Weather Report and Thad Jones' "Us," will also be performed by Outer Dimensions, Heim said.
"We'll mostly be playing old standard stuff," Heim said.
Heim is new to Penn State this semester. Upon graduating from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, he chose to enter Penn State's graduate program in music education.
"Working with Dan [Yoder] is great," Heim said. "It's a rare experience to work with a collegiate director who has given us great arrangements and original pieces."
Click the link above for the full article.
Back in 2005, I was presented with a unique opportunity to sing Bass II for the UArts 10-peice vocal jazz ensemble. It was an education in harmony to say the least, and a fun challenge throughout. Here's a great studio recording of the group at its best.
As many of you devoted readers already know, I spent the last 10 days in the old hometown of State College, PA. My main reason for the stay was to take my position on the staff of the Penn State Summer Jazz camp, as mentioned in my last post. While there, I taught drum set masterclasses, performed with some amazingly talented faculty, directed big bands, and my own jazz combo. The latter, I might add, rocked the roof off of Penn State’s Esber Recital Hall with their own swingin arrangement of Led Zepplin’s Rock n’ Roll, and the 4 big bands swung with authority thanks to some very skilled drummers. Kudos to all of the students!
Aside from the whirlwind of PSU Jazz, I also had the pleasure of performing with State College jazz mainstay Rick Hirsch on multiple occasions. To see details from the most recent hit at the Bellefonte Courthouse, check out the Centre Daily Times article. I’ll be playing with Hirsch’s group, which consists of Hirsch on saxophones, Jim Robinson on bass, and Mac Himes on guitar, again on August 17th. Check the Performances page for more details!
Below are some more photos from the Bellefonte performance. All photos by Arthur Heim.
I have to give it up: my high school music program was incredible. No small thanks go to the legendary educators that steered the ship; the band, the experiences and the music have left an indelible mark on my musical life.
With the State High Jazz Band, I got to travel the world, play some great music, and learn with some of the best musicians around. I also had some of my first professional recording experiences with this group, and this is one of them.
Recorded on a snowy February day in State College, PA, this was our entrance application to the 2004 Essentially Ellington competition at New York's Lincoln Center. The arrangements are direct transcriptions of original Ellington recordings from the 1940s, and you can listen to a sample below.