Jazz at Home

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1. PETER RUBINO [Speed Sculpts Dave Brubeck Live] [Brubeck Medley: Theme from Mr. Broadway, Take Five, Blue Ronodo a la Turk]

May 1, 2015

[Ziad-alto sax, Noel Freidline-piano, Ron Brendle-acoustic bass, Rick Dior-drums]

Ziad’s Notes: Late 2014, my girlfriend, Jennifer Shea, was taking a sculpture class with world renowned sculptor Peter Rubino, who had recently moved to the area. She found out that Mr. Rubino could speed sculpt Ludwig van Beethoven in 15-17mins from a block of clay as “Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony” played in the background. Jennifer’s idea was that it would be extremely cool to have him speed sculpt a bust of a jazz icon at the Bechtler with live accompaniment by the band. So, we invited him over for dinner, started the conversation, and I mentioned a few names with Dave Brubeck being one of them. Peter proceeds to tell me that he lived in the same town as the Brubecks, knew Dave and his whole family, had a bust he sculpted of Dave in the Brubeck library, and Dave Brubeck wrote the forward to his second book on sculpture. It seemed like the stars had aligned so we set out to make it happen.  And happen it did. We put together a three song medley to accompany Peter starting with a fairly obscure Brubeck tune, “Theme from Mr. Broadway,” so as not to give away the identity until it was pretty clear who it was going to be.  At that juncture we went into “Take Five,” then “Blue Rondo ala Turk,” as a way to complete the performance. What an out of the box experience for the band, the audience, and for Peter who had never before speed sculpted with a live band accompanying him. This performance was a perfect blend of live jazz, improvisation and spontaneous creation of art.  We have plans to do it again sometime when normalcy returns and the time is right.  I, for one, am looking forward to it! Check out Peter Rubino here.

This album cover is an original abstract painting by S. Neil Fujita. He was the head of the art department for CBS Records and Columbia Records where he designed album covers. Fujita’s bold typography was in a modernist tone.  He also commissioned artwork by Ben Shahn, Andy Warhol and Roy DeCarava.  His creative design serves as an example of the prominence of exploratory modern art of the period, overlapping and influencing the same empirical creative mind-set occurring simultaneously in jazz.


2. Reincarnation of a LoveBird

June 6, 2014

[Ziad-alto sax, Noel Freidline-piano, Ron Brendle-acoustic bass, Rick Dior-drums]

Ziad’s Notes: Charles Mingus was a prolific jazz composer, esteemed master of the acoustic bass, pianist and bandleader. He is considered to be one of the greatest jazz musicians and composers in history.  His career spanned three decades, and he collaborated with such jazz legends as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Dannie Richmond and Herbie Hancock. He was inducted into the Downbeat Hall of Fame, posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and his 1959 album “Mingus Dynasty” was inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. This was a favorite concert of mine for a number of reasons, primarily to have the opportunity to play Mingus’ compositions. This particular song was recorded March 13th, 1957. Mingus was inspired to write it after hearing someone’s story that during a benefit for Charlie Parker at Carnegie Hall, they saw a feather fall. First he wrote a poem about the story, then the song “Reincarnation of a Lovebird.” The song was written in F# minor although some parts were found in G minor-- implying that some of his musicians lobbied for an easier key. I’m proud to say we remained true to the original key and played it in F# minor.

The reference to Imperial China (the Ming emperors ruled from 1368-1644) was highly appropriate since the bassist's teenage nickname was 'Ming,' and he was in fact one-quarter Chinese himself and quite happy to go along with the art director's ideas for the album cover.


3. Blue In Green

October 6, 2017           

[Ziad-Tenor Sax, Adrian Crutchfield-alto sax, Lynn Grissett-trumpet, Kobie Watkins-drums, Noel Freidline-piano, Ron Brendle-acoustic bass]

Ziad’s Notes: This show was something I wanted to do for a long time.  Every year since Kind Of Blue was released, it has been in the top 5 of all album sales and has been deemed one of the most influential albums ever recorded.  “Blue In Green” is the third song and one of two ballads on the recording.  Even though this is the only song on the album where Cannonball Adderley sits out, we had to include Adrian Crutchfield on alto sax for a solo.  This show was special as we had Adrian Crutchfield and Lynn Grissett (trumpet), performing with us, alumni of Prince’s band the New Power Generation, as well as Kobie Watkins (drums) who recorded and performed with a long list of jazz icons including Sonny Rollins, Kurt Elling, Terrence Blanchard, Arturo Sandoval and many others.  This song has always been a favorite of mine and so was this show.  We will definitely do the show again sometime because everyone needs a periodic dose of “Kind of Blue,” right? 

This is one of the most famous album covers of all time.  It was recorded and released a couple of years after Coltrane’s Blue Train album where the cover was inspired by Picasso’s Blue Period.  This cover is resembles the same inspiration. 


4. Birdlike

August 3, 2019           

[Ziad-Tenor Sax, Curtis Talor-trumpet, Sean Higgins-piano, Ron Brendle-acoustic bass, Rick Dior-drums]

Ziad’s Notes: Curtis Taylor and his manager heard about our series a few years ago. In 2016 his manager reached out to me and expressed that Curtis was interested in performing with us. She was artfully persistent over the next year. After doing my research,  it became a no brainer. Not only is Curtis Taylor an incredible trumpet player, but now he has become a great friend, and part of the “Jazz at the Bechtler” family. Mr. Taylor has performed and/or recorded with Patrice Rushen, Billy Childs, Cyrus Chestnut, James Carter, Bob Sheppard, Antonio Hart, and great gospel luminaries Karen Clark-Sheard, Kierra Sheard and the Singletons. He also recorded with Gregory Porter on “Liquid Spirit” which received the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album of 2014.  Since we had to change our plans for the upcoming concerts and reschedule Mr. Taylor for August 2021, I wanted to share this video of our Tribute to Freddie Hubbard from August 2019. The song is a twelve bar blues, Hubbard composition, called “Birdlike.”  It was recorded on Freddie Hubbard’s fourth album as a leader, “Ready for Freddie,” in 1961 when he was just twenty-three years old. I have always liked this composition, and we chose it as an opener to the concert.

Released in 1962 on Blue Note Records, the Picasso Blue Period trend continues.  


5. Falling In Love Again

January 3, 2020           

[Ziad-tenor sax, Nicolas Bearde-vocals, Adrian Crutchfield-alto sax, Justin Ray-trumpet, Noel Freidline-piano, Ron Brendle-acoustic bass, Al Sergel-drums]

Ziad’s Notes: Meeting Nicolas Bearde was another example of the stars aligning. It is also another example of why all our loyal Jazz at the Bechtler fans and supporters over the last ten years deserve credit for the notoriety of our series. Nicolas Bearde resides in the Oakland area in California. His manager found us and expressed an interest in performing with us. Once it was on the schedule, Nicolas and I met on the phone to discuss the songs for the show in May 2019. His first remark was, “I believe we have a mutual friend.” That person turned out to be my close friend since 1984, saxophonist extraordinaire Roger “Rock” Williams from Nashville, who is a legend in that area. I was speechless. So we went through talking about that connection first before we even got to the real reason for the call, but I immediately knew it was going to be great from the outset. And it was EXACTLY THAT.  Nicolas was kind enough to come back in January 2020 to perform with us at the Knight Theatre for our 10th Anniversary concert. Nicolas is the featured vocalist on sax legend Vincent Herring's chart-topping CD, “Hard Times,"  as well as the vocalist and narrator with Vincent’s "Story of Jazz Orchestra," a 10-piece ensemble of jazz luminaries (Eric Alexander, James Carter, Jon Faddis, Jeremy Pelt, Steve Turre, Mike LeDonne, Kenny Davis and Carl Allen) who travel the world presenting Jazz music's 100+ year history.  He was also an original member of Bobby McFerrin's innovative a cappella ensemble, "Voicestra." Nicolas has released six albums as a solo artist, the most recent being “I Remember You : The Music of Nat King Cole" released on August 30, 2019,  featuring special guest and sax great, Eric Alexander, which rose quickly to the Top 20 on the Jazz Week Charts, garnering rave reviews at home and abroad.

Here is our performance of Nicolas’ original composition, “Falling In Love Again.” It was originally recorded with a horn section and since we had one, Adrian Crutchfield-alto sax (Prince/NPG, Lionel Ritchie, Bette Midler….), Justin Ray-trumpet (Michael Buble’, Kurt Elling, Dave Weckl…..) and me on tenor sax, I thought it would fit in perfectly. Check out the alto solo by Adrian on this one. Hope you enjoy this one as much as I do.


6. You Don't Know What Love Is

August 3, 2012           

[Ziad-tenor sax, Noel Freidline-piano, Ron Brendle-acoustic bass, Rick Dior-drums]

Ziad’s Notes:  Early on I knew we needed to do a tribute to the amazing saxophone colossus, Sonny Rollins.  He was a powerful influence on every jazz saxophonist.  The album “Saxophone Colossus” was his sixth album, recorded on June 22, 1956, released by “Prestige Records” to critical acclaim, and helped establish Sonny Rollins as a prominent jazz artist.  It was certainly one of the classic jazz albums of all time.  A review in Billboard said "Rollins' latest effort should really start musicians buzzing", as "the tenor man is one of the most vigorous, dynamic and inventive of modern jazzmen", and "every track is packed with surprises, though Rollins develops each solo with great architectural logic."  Ralph J. Gleason reviewed the album later in June for “DownBeat,” writing:  “Almost as if in answer to the charge that there is a lack of grace and beauty in the work of the New York hard-swingers comes this album in which Rollins displays humor, gentleness, a delicate feeling for beauty in line, and a puckish sense of humor.  And all done with the uncompromising swinging that has characterized them all along.”  For this concert we did all the songs from that recording plus a few more.  In 2017, “Saxophone Colossus” was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant."  One could write many books on the music of Sonny Rollins but the music speaks for itself.  Fortunately, Mr. Rollins is still with us and to our great fortune, has left a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and stories for the historical record.  One of my favorite quotes from his later years was “I’m still living so I’m still practicing.”  This statement sums up the life story of every jazz musician and the beauty of the genre.  Never is there not something new to learn or attempt to master, and certainly it would continue to be that way, even if we lived many subsequent, aggregate, lifetimes.


7. Moanin'/Better Git It In Your Soul

June 6, 2014

[Ziad-tenor sax, Noel Freidline-piano, Ron Brendle-acoustic bass, Rick Dior-drums]

Ziad’s Notes: “Moanin’” (not to be confused with the Bobby Timmons song of the same name) was recorded on the album “Blues & Roots” in 1959. Mingus wrote in the liner notes; “This record is unusual—it presents only one part of my musical world, the blues. A year ago, Nesuhi Ertegün suggested that I record an entire blues album in the style of “Haitian Fight Song”, because some people, particularly critics, were saying I didn't swing enough. He wanted to give them a barrage of soul music: churchy, blues, swinging, earthy. I thought it over. I was born swinging and clapped my hands in church as a little boy, but I've grown up and I like to do things other than just swing. But blues can do more than just swing. So I agreed.” From “Moanin’” we went into the song “Better Git It In Your Soul” originally recorded on the album “Mingus Ah Um,” his first album on Columbia Records. The recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2013. The song was inspired by the gospel singing Mingus heard as a child growing up in Watts, Los Angeles, CA as the melody reveals.

This is another cover which features another abstract painting by S. Neil Fujita.  [Circa 1959]

We had a great time playing these Mingus compositions, and we are so very grateful to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and all of you who have supported us for the last 10 plus years, for providing us the opportunity!!!  Stay safe and healthy and keep your eyes and ears peeled for the upcoming plans for Jazz at the Bechtler 2020. 

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