I'm in the midst of what feels like a never-ending hectic few weeks, and the next few days are particularly busy. Happily, it's busy with only good things: a meeting tonight to discuss an exciting artistic collaboration; Jazz Lives tomorrow night; and on Friday night I get to enjoy a big Chinese meal as part of a fundraiser then perform as part of the KC Roberts CD release party. And on Wednesday, we're having a little shindig at JAZZ.FM91 - we're announcing the 2014 festival lineup! (More on that tomorrow.)
Today, though, I'm writing about where I'll be on Thursday night - and that's the Jazz Bistro, joining the CD release celebration for Beverly Taft meets the Nathan Hiltz Orchestra, the last in the latest round of TDJ Special Projects.
Beverly suggests this project has been more than two years in the making, and the end results, I suggest, are worth the wait. This collaboration - between vocalist Beverly and guitarist Nathan Hiltz - brings together two artists who are very much at home is a more traditional, swinging jazz style. Beverly has made her mark with her fun and easy-going approach to the Great American Songbook; Nathan is co-founder of the Griffith Hiltz Trio and his Organic has been playing at Joe Mama's for more than six years. That these are two talented artists comes as no surprise; what I find exciting about the new album is that they are each flexing some different muscles: the tunes have all been co-written by Beverly and Nathan; they've all been arranged for a medium-sized ensemble (four horns) by Nathan. The sound is classic, but the material is new. According to Beverly, "Themes in these songs range from love and loss to urban ennui, pastoral bliss, 1950s courtship, economics in Cuba, and running away to West Virginia." To hear a sample, download "Clock Tickin' Blues" from the new album.
As part of the Special Projects application process, each applicant is required to submit a project description and a brief overview of why the proposed project is different from the artist's usual activity. Here's part of what Beverly wrote - I think it provides a unique perspective on why this is an important project:
"This new project with this first-class ensemble is the start of a new era for me as a composer/lyricist…Writing and performing these originals with musicians I deeply respect has been humbling and has expanded my sense of musicianship, and my approach to my career."
I recognize and can relate to the desire to move from performing other people's music to performing one's own…and also the amount of work required to create enough music to fill an album. I look forward to being in the audience on Thursday night for the show! Joining Beverly (vocals) and Nathan (guitar) are William Carn (trombone), Shawn Nykwist (tenor sax), Richard Underhill (alto sax), Jake Wilkinson (trumpet), Adrean Farrugia (piano), Artie Roth (bass) and Morgan Childs (drums). The party starts at 9 pm; for more information visit the concert page.
Since this is a new project, there's not yet any video to sample. However, Beverly cites the 1955 record featuring Mel Torme with the Marty Paich dek-tette as a major influence, so here's a taste of the type of swing we're likely to hear Thursday night:
I hope to see you Thursday at Jazz Bistro!