Ted Nash – alto sax, clarinet, flute, piccolo
Warren Wolf – vibraphone
Gary Versace – piano
Rufus Reid – bass
Matt Wilson – drums
Two-time Grammy–winning composer and saxophonist Ted Nash releases his first live recording in over 25 years. Known for his highly-acclaimed works (Presidential Suite, Chakra, Portrait in Seven Shades) this much anticipated release provides an opportunity for Nash to share his improvisational side. His inspired solos are impassioned and interactive. On this album he finds new areas of expression that will excite and move you.
These three nights at Dizzy’s were electric for me. I think you’ll hear in it the combination of great players, with history letting loose on music that has grown with me over the course of my career. On this album we share not just a night of music but the history of collaboration.
It was a wonderful opportunity to make music again with many of my favorite musicians. I have known Rufus Reid since I was 24, when we recorded an album featuring my mother and father (which never was released). Rufus always plays with tremendous instinct and flexibility and brings decades of experience to the music. Rufus appeared on my Mancini Project album (Palmetto).
I first met Matt Wilson when I was 18 and he 14, when I came to Rock Island, Illinois to play with Louie Bellson’s quartet. Of course I had no idea the skinny teenager I met that night would become one of jazz’s greatest contributors, appearing on more than 250 recordings. Matt has played on several of my albums, including Sidewalk Meeting, Still Evolved, La Espada de la Noche, In the Loop, and The Mancini Project.
This is the second time Warren Wolf and I have played in a quintet at Dizzy’s together. He is one of the most consistently killing vibraphonists I have heard; at once fiery and cool. He is also one of the most melodic players – on any instrument. I have always had a connection with the vibes, as my jazz teacher was the great vibraphonist Charlie Shoemake, with whom I also played my first small band gigs, at the long-gone Donte’s in Los Angeles.
I have known Gary Versace for years, hearing him with many great ensembles, and have always wanted the chance to play in a small group with him. I got that chance, and the experience is something I will never forget. The moments he found on Emily, for example (which we played as a clarinet and piano duo) were rich, inspiring and truly original. I feel Gary is on the cusp of being acknowledged as one of piano’s superstars.
This performance was also a chance to revisit a couple original compositions in an entirely new context, and re-explore music by some of my favorite composers: Chick Corea, Thelonious Monk, Herbie Nichols, Johnny Mandel, and Henry Mancini.
Organized Crime (Nash)
Originally recorded on my album The Creep, this composition was written for a short film by Doug Chang that followed a free-jazz alto player through a typical day-in-the-life (based loosely on Ornette Coleman). I also played the alto player in the film (the lead role), and am happy to report that, to date, it has never been released.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of arranging this song (maybe my favorite Chick Corea composition), for a concert with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra which featured Mr. Corea as a guest soloist. It was a life-long dream to play with this amazing artist. This was also an opportunity to solo on the flute, something I don’t do very often. I love embracing the different sounds and colors I feel when playing this instrument.
Spinning Song (Nichols)
Herbie Nichols was one of the most original composers and pianists of all time. His music was quirky and personal, although I believe he lived much of musical life in the shadow of Monk. A few years ago, along with Ben Allison and Frank Kimbrough (and other members of the Jazz Composers Collective) we recorded three albums of Herbie Nichols’ music. We call the group “The Herbie Nichols Project.”
We had so much fun playing this Monk standard. The basic feel we came up with, a sort of Reggae groove, was based on a concept trombonist Chris Crenshaw created for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Check out the interplay between Gary, Rufus and Matt.
My first born child was named Emily, and when Johnny Mandel got news (he worked a lot over the years with my father, trombonist Dick Nash) he sent a copy of the sheet music of his song with an inscription to Emily. We treasure that. This is a tribute to my son Eli (formally Emily) who is transgender, and whose brave journey through this challenging transition has inspired me tremendously.
This composition first appeared on my 1999 release, Rhyme and Reason, which featured a string quartet, and was the first time I really embraced composing on any serious level. Sisters is dedicated to my two kids. I think it captures the endless energy of two siblings, close in age – all the fun and trouble they can get into. And it always makes me smile.
Baby Elephant Walk (Mancini)
One of Mancini’s catchiest melodies, a blues that came from the movie Hatari!. Both my uncle (Ted Nash) and father (Dick Nash) played on this Henry Mancini soundtrack. I love the boogaloo groove the rhythm section brought to this. I play piccolo, portraying the character of the baby elephant. Not the most obvious choice of instrument for the blues, but you will always find the blues if you look for it.