Kirk Whalum

Kirk Whalum is one of the most underrated saxophonists around!

That statement might sound downright incorrect at first.  And, I could see why one would believe that.  He sells a lot of records, played with Whitney Houston, and is better known among the general public than a lot of saxophonists on the scene today.  Still, I stand by my statement: Kirk Whalum is one of the most underrated saxophonists around.

I've noticed that in the jazz community, particularly "jazz academia" certain musical elements are given a higher priority than others.  Playing dense harmonies, playing in odd meters, and making your music less accessible to non-musicians are certainly all the rage in some communities.  Oftentimes elements such as tone, groove, and "saying something" are neglected.  These musical traits are where Kirk excels.  

Though labeled as a smooth jazz saxophonist, Kirk brings a lot more to the table than others who are lumped into the same category.  Even though he doesn't always show it off, he has technique to spare and can hang in just about any setting.  I've heard fans of his say "check him out playing straight-ahead jazz."  Here's a video of him playing Joe Henderson's "Inner Urge."

He sounds great--and I'm sure any of you who have played this tune before know that it isn't easy.  He approaches the tricky harmonies in a very melodic way as opposed to just running scales/wiggling his fingers.
The solo almost has sort of a "Branford" quality to it, though Kirk is clearly his own man.

As much as I like his straight-ahead playing--I like how he approaches pop tunes even more.  DISCLAIMER: I love pop music and have know regrets about it!  Check this out--he's playing one of Kenneth Edmonds's best tunes (aka of the best songwriters in the R&B genre).  

What a great vibe!  I would LOVE to be able to play this way.

Until next time--happy listening and be well!

Three Little Words

"We'd all sound like Stan Getz if we could."--John Coltrane

This commonly cited quote is an example of the love and respect countless musicians and jazz fans have had for Stan Getz.  Undoubtedly one of the titans of the tenor saxophone, Getz was always able to tell a story with his playing.  His tone is usually the most revered aspect of his musicianship, however equally stunning are his melodic improvisations, capped off by an impeccable sense of swing.

Getz had quite a few periods in his career; his time with Jack Teagarden as a youngster, playing with Woody Herman's Thundering Herd, beboping w/ Diz, the Brazillian recordings that won him popular acclaim, and his later years with Kenny Barron are some that come to mind for me.  If I had to pick three dessert island Getz albums it would be a very difficult decision!

One album I've gotten back into recently is Stan Getz and the Oscar Peterson Trio.  This recording features Getz along with pianist Oscar Peterson, bassist Ray Brown, and guitarist Herb Ellis.  There is no drummer on the recording!  However, with these guys the groove is so solid that nothing is lacking.  All the tracks sound great, but my personal favorite is "Three Little Words."  From a harmonic standpoint, Stan is playing some interesting stuff but most captivating is the attitude; the reckless abandon he's playing with!  Stan was never afraid to take chances.

If you haven't heard this track before, here's a peak


Life and Music

I recently checked out this piece of animation about life and music.  I thought it was particularly interesting and for me, provided quite a bit of perspective.

Check it out, and let me know what you think.

Happy Birthday Thelonious Monk!

Happy Birthday to Thelonious Monk!  One of my pianists and composers, he would have been 95 today.

He's got so many great tunes and recordings but my absolute favorite is his work on Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers With Thelonious Monk.

His quirky sense of melody, impeccable taste, and vision for his band make his music timeless.  His songs are extremely difficult to learn but are often quite singable and catchy (example: Rhythm-A-Ning).

Here's a track from Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers With Thelonious Monk.  Enjoy!

Exciting News!

Hi All!

Exciting news on the gig front.  The John Reynolds Quintet has been offered a residency at North Park's newest bar, 7 Grand!  We will be playing tunes in the backroom  from 9pm to midnight on the 2nd and 4th Friday of every month starting in October.

7 Grand has a great selection of whiskeys and craft beer.  It's definitely a good hang!  Hope to see you there.

this week

Just wanted to let you all know about a couple different shows I'll be playing this week. 

This Thursday (September 6th) I'll be playing at Bar Pink in North Park with two different bands, the John Reynolds Quintet and the Applebrown Jazz Ensemble.  Both of these groups play very different music, so it will be an interesting and fun experience to make the switch in one night.  The John Reynolds Quintet will be opening the evening up at 10:00pm with one set, followed by a set with the Applebrown Jazz Ensemble around 11pm. 

Bar Pink is located at 3289 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104 (North Park Area).  There is no cover and the show is 21 and up only (since it's a bar).

On Friday night I'll be playing with the John Reynolds Quintet again, this time at 7 Grand Whiskey Bar, also in North Park.  We will be featuring our own arrangements of the music of the legendary trumpeter Clifford Brown.  Our last show here was quite successful and we're hoping for another great turnout.  If you're a whiskey fan--their menu is quite impressive.

7 Grand is located at 3054 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104 (North Park Area).  This show also has no cover and is 21 and up (FYI: this band will be playing an all ages show at Point Loma Nazarene on Friday September 21st).

For more information, feel free to check my itinerary page!

It's a real privilege to have the opportunity to work with such creative and inspiring musicians.  Hope to see you at a show!