Live at the Blue Wisp: Silver Anniversary 1978-200
PERFORMERS: Ed Moss, piano; Mike Sharfe, bass; Jeff Folkens, trumpet; Clarence Pawn, trombone; Matt Constantine, alto sax and flute; Arthur Quitman, tenor sax and clarinet; Joe Gaudio, baritone sax; Jim Leslie, drums A SHORT HISTORY OF THE SOCIETY JAZZ ORCHESTRA Twenty-five years ago, in the winter of 1978, I was performing in a trio format at the Emanon Jazz Club.Â The club was then four years old and a change of venue was needed.Â While the music room was being remodeled to accommodate the larger group I frantically set about creating the compositions and rehearsing the very willing and able musicians who had been bugging me for years to form an expanded group.Â The band was then only a seven piece unit, as I was doubling on baritone sax.Â We called ourselves The Improvvisitori and played five nights a week plus a Sunday 'picnic-style' matinee. That summer we hosted a live two-hour radio series on WNOP-AM which included a contest with a prize of a wine dinner for two.Â Each week I would write a new melody to an existing set of chord changes and, to win the contest, listeners would phone in and name the original tune.Â With limited rehearsal time this was also a great help to the musicians because, in most cases, these tunes were very well known jazz standards.Â As 'Bird' proved, you can't copyright chord changes. These hastily written charts are still our most popular. This was, at first, a highly experimental jazz band, but little by little we began to play weddings and shows.Â A new name had to be found; hence, The Society Jazz Orchestra was born.Â Slick new commercial charts were written and a full-time baritone chair was added.Â The Blue Wisp Jazz Club (then on Madison Road) became our new place to experiment with this new format and, two incarnations later, it still is. In the late 80's, we launched another series on WVXU-FM ('Jazz Arts Alive') at the Cotton Club in which six different vocalists were featured.Â Another period of frantic writing began; new arrangements with only an hour of rehearsal and then live on radio!Â These vocal pieces became a big part of the 80's band's style and we still like to toy with them occasionally. HOW THIS RECORDING CAME ABOUT In the winter of 2002 our bassist, Mike Sharfe, suggested a project that he would record and produce.Â No singers were to be allowed, including myself!Â Mike wanted to capture my original compositions in this live setting using state-of-the-art techniques.Â Under more than a little pressure, the band agreed to buckle down and 'clean things up.' We recorded on three Monday evenings in the spring of 2003; the tracks here are unedited and just the way we played them. ABOUT THE BONUS TRACKS... A few years ago, one of our fellow musicians was shot in the back of the head while leaving a gig in a botched robbery attempt.Â The event would not go away, unlike the constant violence and stupidity that constantly bombard us.Â This was only six blocks from my house and I realized that ut could have easily happened to any of us. The only relief that seemed possible to the composer: write a piece, play it once and be done with it.Â However, the guys in the band thought otherwise, thus Reminiscences and Warnings. Melancholy Metamorphosis seemed to be a perfect natural conclusion; a dirge, perhaps, bit with a little bit of hope for the future. God Bless, Eduardo Produced and Recorded on location by Mike Sharfe and Mobile DAT, March 2003 Special thanks to Marjean Wisby for her never-ending support of the band. Contact: Viscosity Records P.O. Box 20127 Cincinnati, OHÂ 45220 telephone: (513) 651-2236 ***************** 'The Big Band lives! Ed Moss's Society Jazz Orchestra is molto cool!' -- T.C. Boyle, Jazz Lover and Author, Nominee for the 2003 National Book Award for Fiction ('Drop City') ***************** And check out Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Music Director Paavo JÃ¤rvi's praise for the new CD by Ed and The Society Jazz Orchestra: 'Meeting Ed Moss has been very meaningful for me.Â I consider him to be one of the world's great living jazz pianists and one of the most brilliant musicians I've ever known.Â I love his harmonic thinking, his complete knowledge of and respect for tradition, but, at the same time, his total irreverence for it.Â The only people who have the right to ignore tradition are the ones who know and respect it.Â Ed is one of those people. 'I love listening to Ed's music because it is honest and it sounds like Ed. It's witty and unpredictable... It can make you fall off your chair laughing, infuriate you, or move you very deeply.Â For me, Ed is a complete musician and I can't think of any title greater than that.' ***************** REVIEW: Ed Moss Society Jazz Orchestra, 'Live at the Blue Wisp: Silver Anniversary by DON HENKE, DAYTON (OH) CITY PAPER, 3/25/04 For a quarter of a century, Cincinnati pianist Ed Moss has, off and on, led a small group known as the Society Jazz Orchestra. Moss is known for his singular style of playing, his eccentric personality and his idiosyncratic writing. Depending on which direction you're coming from, he's either a genius or a madman. There is really no middle ground. For several years, he has led his motley group of musicians on the first two Mondays of each month at Cincinnati's world-famous Blue Wisp Jazz Club. It's not a big band; it consists of eight pieces-- two brass, three reeds and three rhythm. The band's current recording includes charts written by Moss over the last several years and incorporated into the book. Many are written over the changes of other tunes. Others are originals. The opening piece, 'Jonesin',' was written over the changes of 'Pick Yourself Up.' It's a completely different tune, taken at a completely different tempo. Matt Constantine, who is all over the album, plays an excellent alto solo, and the ensemble negotiates the intricate melody well. This is followed by 'Erewhon Fo Tuo.' The basis for this one should be easy to figure out. Clarence Pawn solos on trombone on the head and Joe Gaudio has a hefty, baritone sax solo. Moss plays one of his tasty piano fills and the tune ends by stating the original melody. 'For Natahsa...' is a pretty ballad and Constantine, playing flute this time, does nice work on it. Next up is 'Tenderfoot,' based on 'Tenderly.' Constantine has another great alto solo and Moss contributes a nice one on piano. 'Fat Man' has a tricky head and features solos by Pawn and Moss and launches Constantine on another romp through the changes, traveling up and down the scale (and maybe in and out and from side to side, too). 'The Snake' is 'All the Things You Are,' as Jerome Kern never envisaged it. It has a loping pace and solos by Constantine's flute, Arthur Quitman's clarinet, Pawn, Gaudio and Moss. 'Bird Droppings' is Charlie Parker's 'Yardbird Suite' and it naturally has a fine alto solo. Jeff Folken gets a trumpet solo (muted, but nonetheless enjoyable) and the leader does his thing. 'Driving Through Tennessee' is completely original and features Pawn's trombone throughout. It's a lazy kind of ride and it is what doing the title feels like, unless you're on I-75 in Knoxville at rush hour. 'S.S.S.' is 'Sunny Side of the Street.' Jim Leslie gets a drum solo on this one, along with alto, trombone and piano. 'Strange Mood (Tribute to the Duke)' has a Duke Ellington feel to it and has echoes of 'Strange Feeling' and 'Mood Indigo.' Solos are by Pawn and Moss. 'Runnin'' gets things up and running again to the changes of 'I Got Rhythm.' Quitman has a chance for a tenor saxophone solo on this one. Several years ago, a rock musician well known to the Cincinnati jazz community was murdered while leaving a gig. It was a botched robbery attempt. Moss knew the man and his catharsis was to write a piece, play it once and forget about it. He did just that and called the piece 'Reminiscences and Warnings.' However, the band convinced him to record it, so it's featured here. Joe Gaudio's baritone sax and Mike Sharfe's bass keep a vamp going through the whole piece. There is a collage of scraps of patriotic tunes, mostly on trumpet, in the background. The ensemble comes in and the vamp gets softer, but it's still noticeable. After the ensemble portion, there are strange noises, including saxophone squeaks, and the vamp continues. Then, the ensemble comes back in and is suddenly cut off by two shots on Leslie's drums. As the piece comes to a close, Moss plays the piano strings. The CD closes with 'Melancholy Metamorphosis,' which Moss calls 'a dirge, perhaps, but with a little bit of hope for the future.' Silver Anniversary is not something to put on for background music. It's something to be listened to, more than once, to get the full effect. *************** From TEN CINCINNATI CDs THAT DESERVE A SPIN by RICK BIRD (CINCINNATI POST, 12/25/03) Ed Moss and the Society Jazz Orchestra, 'Live at the Blue Wisp: Silver Anniversary 1978-2003': The Society Jazz Orchestra puts an exclamation mark on 25 years of intelligent improv jazz with this live recording. It showcases the eight-piece SJO's many moods, from swing to experimental, with mostly original compositions. Above all, the orchestra does what it's done all these years at the Blue Wisp: It simply cooks. READ RICK BIRD'S CD REVIEW (CINCINNATI POST, 10/10/03) Power pop, funk and jazz. Three genres, three new CDs, all from local groups at the top of their games. There has been no week this year that better shows off the vitality of the local music scene, as these three CDs are being coincidentally released this week from Cincinnati area artists. There is power rock at it's finest from Promenade. The area's funk tradition is in fine hands with Freekbass on an album produced by Cincinnati funk king and Rock Hall of Fame inductee, Bootsy Collins. And the Society Jazz Orchestra, a 25-year tradition, has a live CD reminding us that it is a musical institution. As vibrant as the local recording scene is these days, the three very different releases also make the point there is no 'Cincinnati sound.' The three represent the diversity of the local scene from urbane jazz and urban funk, to feel-good, head-bouncing, suburban pop. Each of the three releases deserves -- and will likely get -- national attention. Promenade's 'Part One' is the type of sound that could, with some luck, land a major label record deal. Jazz lovers everywhere should pick up on the original, intricate Society Jazz Orchestra compositions of Ed Moss and Freekbass will find a wide audience for an accessible funk album. Live at the Blue Wisp: Silver Anniversary 1978-2003 | ED MOSS' SOCIETY JAZZ ORCHESTRA In 1978, musician Ed Moss held court five nights a week at the old downtown Emanon Jazz Club, playing piano and sax with seven other musicians. It was improv and cutting edge. In fact, the outfit called itself 'The Improvvisitori.' Moss' ensemble was lured away to become a regular fixture at the newly opened Blue Wisp Jazz Club in O'Bryonville, changing it's name to the Society Jazz Orchestra. Twenty-five years later, and two moves by the Blue Wisp, the band is still at it, now playing the first two Mondays of the month at the Wisp's new location on the eastern edge of downtown. Last March, three SJO gigs were recorded live at the club, making up the new release. All the cuts feature Moss' original compositions. More than a cozy nostalgia release, this showcases the band as a vibrant contemporary force, and Moss says preparing for such a recording was a wake-up call for the group. The idea for the recording came from bass player Mike Sharfe, an original SJO member. 'Mike thought we should go back and do what we did when we started this thing,' Moss said. 'I agreed we should do something that meant something.' What listeners get is a great diverse jazz romp, ranging from the cookin' open cut 'Jonesin',' to more melancholy moods. Always there is intricate playing, in which almost every band member gets to shine on solos in the improv spirit of live jazz. 'It's not like we just worked these up for the recording,' Moss said. 'We have worked hours over the years on some of these things.' Amazingly there are four original members still in the SJO -- Jeff Folkens (trumpet), Arthur Quitman (tenor sax, clarinet), Moss and Sharfe. The group is rounded out by Clarence Pawn (trombone), Matt Constantine (alto sax, flute) and Joe Gaudio (baritone sax). When asked how the group has stayed intact so long, Moss quotes the mantra of John Von Ohlen, leader of the Blue Wisp Big Band, 'Two things break up a band: A band meeting and a rehearsal.' But Moss says it's not a bad idea to 'occasionally tear apart the machine and put it back together,' describing the band's focus for the live recording sessions. And yes, he says, there might have been a rehearsal or two before the live sessions. Over the years, Moss and the SJO have done their share of what you might call the more 'commercial' gigs to pay the bills. There have been countless weddings and parties, backing the occasional girl singer, session and jingle work. 'I've played every hotel in town,' Moss said. 'This recording boiled down to get back to what we started with -- playing jazz. This has that spirit.'