2015年8月9日 星期日

Delightful News from a Musician Friend (使人雀躍的音樂好友最新消息)

It was a really long time ago. I had just returned to Hong Kong from the UK and was living alone on the highest building overlooking Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island, enjoying the silence, the solitude, the sun, the cool breezes, the unobstructed vista of sea and sky. Back then, the power plant there had not yet been built. There were not very many foreigners or even locals living there in that epoque and one met a lot of them on the 45 minute-journey to and from Lamma and Hong Kong. I struck up a few friendships. On weekdays and especially on weekends, we'd meet for meals, drinks and chit chat. One of them was young Dale Wilson, the son of a Baptist pastor then working in Hong Kong. He loves music. So do I and a few others.  We'd gather in the home of some fellow music lovers and listen to or play music together. We didn't have a care in the world. The only thing which counted was that the music, the snacks, the beers be good. It was a time I recall with fondness. Today, one of them, Guy,  has become a professional jazz guitarist and a Shaolin Kungfu coach and Dale has become a professor in musical anthropology at Columbia University in New York and a well-known jazz composer on the side and whenever he passes by Hong Kong, we'd meet and have a meal together for old times sake.

Recently Dale recorded one of his latest big-band jazz compositions with the Hamburg Radio Jazz Orchestra. He told me to check that out. I did. The following is from the Jazz USA Website.

NDR Bigband – Tall Tales of Jasper County
The world-renowned jazz ensemble tells no lies in this beautifully-crafted and visceral Big Band recording, an ode to the great American Heartland by award-winning composer Dale Wilson.
“I was struck by the musicians’ tacit communication, how they breathed individually, shaping their lines, and how they breathed as a unit. It is a sound that I can’t imagine another band replicating, a sound that our brilliant engineer Christian Cluxen dubbed, ‘the sound of the great American Prairie’.” –Dale Wilson
The NDR Bigband – Hamburg Radio Jazz Orchestra’s latest feature recording, Tall Tales of Jasper County: The Double Doubles Suite, is a full-length concept work featuring music by the inimitable U.S. composer and Gil Evans Competition winner Dale Wilson and including liner notes by the New Yorker’s Steve Futterman. In addition, the album showcases the tasteful stick-work of renowned UK drummer Gary Husband as special guest.

NDR, through the encouragement of the band’s lead alto saxophone player, Fiete Felsch (alto saxophone, alto flute, flute, piccolo), commissioned Wilson to write a set of pieces which would extensively feature Felsch and their tenor saxophone player, Lutz Buechner (tenor saxophone, clarinet), along with the rest of the ensemble, explaining the “doubles” reference (the extended “Double Suite” is named as such because of the utilization of “doubles”, the commonplace musician’s term for woodwind instruments that saxophonists also sometimes play in a big band). The NDR Bigband would eventually bring the work to life, resulting in this uniquely sophisticated and yet surprisingly earthy album.

The brave exploration of doubles, Wilson’s masterful soundscaping, and sensational performances by the members create for a beautifully lush and powerfully poignant record reminiscent of the American Heartland; a place like Jasper County, Missouri, where Wilson has strong familial connections. Not to disappoint the more traditional jazz band enthusiasts, the record still delivers on underlying swing and a strong reverence to the compositional techniques utilized by Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, and others.

Dale told me that his disc became the Editors' pick of the Downbeat  Magazine for May this year. Downbeat is one of the longest surviving and most authoritative American jazz magazines. If the name of someone in America who claims to be anybody in the jazz world does not appear in Downbeat, he/she can't be very good.

I'm so glad for Dale and I feel proud to have encouraged him to pursue his musical talents after I heard a few of his compositions whilst he was in Hong Kong all those years ago when he was then performing as pianist for one of the best jazz bands in Hong Kong led by Tony Carpio, playing regularly in various of the better hotel lounges, including the Hilton in Central, now the headquarters of the Cheong Kong group of companies. .

The sound of his latest disc is richly textured, contemplative, atmospheric and would suddenly explode into the chaotic hustle and bustle of a busy jazz bar nightclub etc. Do I not  feel hints of French impressionist uncertainty of ambiguous tones in certain passages in the short clips from the promo video?

Tall Tales of Jasper County features 6 songs

1. Brother John's Vision  9.41 min.

2. Major Fete                   8.03 min
3. Chloe's Lamma            7.04 min.
4. Havana                         9.54 min.     
5. August's Moonstone   12.17 min

6. Double Vision               4.01 min

in the first number refers to John Eckert, a respected trumpeter and leader of The New York Jazz Nine, an ensemble that Wilson has written for Chloé is the name of his daughter.

The following is a reproduction of the article of Downbeat Magazine for Picks of the Month for May 2015 by BOBBY REED

                       NDR Bigband, Tall Tales Of Jasper County

NDR Bigband conductor Dale Wilson owes an artistic debt to Gil Evans, who was a master at arranging material for a large ensemble, and to Duke Ellington, who famously composed songs that would exploit the individual strengths of his soloists. Wilson wrote Tall Tales Of Jasper County: The Double Doubles Suite with two band members at the forefront of his mind—alto saxophonist Fiete Felsch and tenor saxophonist Lutz Buechner. Wilson envisioned an extended piece in which Felsch and Buechner would “double” on other woodwind instruments, and the results are stunning. On the opening track, “Brother John’s Vision,Felsch plays alto sax and piccolo, while Buechner contributes on tenor sax and clarinet. Wilson has family roots in Jasper County, Missouri, and his essay in the liner notes describes some of the relatives who inspired this project. Thanks to the incredible musicianship of this 18-piece ensemble, a listener would not need to know the backstory to enjoy the majestic power of this suite. Wilson composed the six songs here with improvisation in mind, and with an aesthetic that equally favors grand gestures and subtle details. The track “Chloe’s Lamma” showcases the colorful personalities and impressive range of soloists Ingolf Burkhardt (trumpet) and Dan Gottshall (trombone), who both deliver intricate, nuanced lines. The 10-minute track “Havana” illustrates Wilson’s ability to deftly handle the collective power of a big band while providing well-placed spots for improvised solos. The NDR Bigband (aka the Hamburg Radio Jazz Orchestra) will celebrate the release of this album with a concert at Brooklyn’s Shape Shifter Lab on May 15.

Next follows a short discography relating to my friend:


1. A Meditation And A Prayer University Of North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band* Dir Neil Slater - Lab 91 ‎(CD, Album)  North Texas Jazz   LA9101-NS 1991        

2. The Ghosts And The Fishermen University Of North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band* Dir.Neil Slater - Lab 92 ‎(CD, Album)  North Texas Jazz  LA9201-NS 1992   

3. Temple Street and 1 more… University Of North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band* Dir Neil Slater - Lab '93    North Texas Jazz 1993   

4. Lullabye For Baby Snow University Of North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band*, Neil Slater - Lab 94 ‎(CD, Album)     North Texas Jazz     LA9401-NS     1994

5.  Temple Street Various      North Texas Jazz - Fifty Years ‎(4xCD, Comp + Box)     North Texas Jazz     LA9702-NS     1997  

6. Bewitched    Two O'Clock Lab Band* Dir James Riggs - Two O'Clock Jazz Band ‎(CD, Album)  Klavier Records     KD 77019  1997    

7. Temple Street    University Of North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band* - Live At Blues Alley ‎(2xCD, Album)   North Texas Jazz     LI0702-NS  2007

Snow is the name of my friend's daughter whilst Temple Street hardly needs any introduction.