'The Smoker' is the debut album by the John Kocur Quartet. It is comprised of all original compositions and features some great jazz improvisation by a talented young band. Musicians: John Kocur - Alto Saxophone, Composer, Arranger Amy Bormet - Piano Oliver Albertini - Bass C.V. Dashiell III - Drums Warrior's Call - The opening track is a heavy, post-bop burner that shows off the band's youthful energy. The melody is based on fourths and the arrangement features some meter and feel changes without losing the groove. Hope For A New Year - This song was written in the summer of 2008 during the height of the primary elections and the middle of my engagement. It contains the combined feelings of those two events. It has an even-eighth rock feel without being overbearing or overly 'smooth.' Running In The Rain - A bright, medium up- tempo tune that features a catchy melody with a traditional latin/swing arrangement on the head. Check out how hard the band is swinging on the solos. The Touch Of Her Hair - A love song dedicated to my wife. It is a contemporary jazz ballad that is memorable, classy, and elegant just like her. Dig how the band builds and swells together mostly due to the beautiful mallet work of C.V. Dashiell III on drums. Sheddin' - A quirky, bebop-inspired tune that shows off some great walking lines by Oliver Albertini. The band sounds great throughout but especially don't miss the final shuffle groove at the end of the track. Independence Blues - A modified blues with a patriotic flare. The band is swingin' hard despite the challenging key (F# Concert). C.V.'s drum breaks during the trading kill me every time. Unanswered Questions - An introspective song written about the most profound questions of life and spirituality that continue to resurface. The colorful voicings and expressive touch of Amy Bormet on piano makes the track. Japan Suite - A collection of melodies written in tribute to my trip to Japan in 2007 with the Howard University Jazz Ensemble. Memories of the view from the plane window, the streets of Tokyo, the bus ride through the country-side, a 5am visit to a Buddhist Temple, fireworks, and the joy of playing for a hundreds of attentive fans are present at various points. Musically the suite includes some Japanese pentatonic scales, rhythmically free sections, hip-hop, and burning swing grooves. The band is really smokin' throughout. The intensity of the final minutes is inspired by the intensity of the people of Japan and their love for life, art, and spirituality. Fun Lovers - Dedicated to my sister-in-law and her friend. The title of the song refers to one of those heated conversations among friends that seemed incredibly important at the time, but in hindsight was utterly mind numbing. Regardless, it is a positive, upbeat samba tune with a melody that you won't forget. Recorded at Blue House Productions in Silver Spring, MD. December 5th, 2008 and December 7th, 2008. Producer - John Kocur Sound Engineer - Jeff Gruber Artwork/Layout - Dustin Mollick Manufactured by Oasis CD. Copyright 2009 John Kocur. John Kocur is an exciting young alto saxophonist and jazz composer based out of Washington, D.C. He has been called a 'great soloist' by the City Paper, 'equally capable of romance and hard-charging groove.' His original compositions are rooted in the tradition of American Jazz but seamlessly blend a variety of musical influences including rock, hip-hop, European classical, and world musics. His distinctive alto saxophone style bears the influences of Johnny Hodges, Charlie Parker, Cannonball Addlerley, and Kenny Garrett. Born on January 18th, 1984 in Medford, NY, John fell in love with the possibilities of the saxophone at the age of 10 while performing in the school band program. After studying music at the university level, John has embarked on a full-time career in music performance and education. In 2008, John was selected as an Artist-In-Residence at the Strathmore Performing Arts Center with the responsibility of performing two public shows and an educational workshop at the Mansion at Strathmore. As a sideman, John has previously performed big band jazz with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, traditional jazz with the Capital Focus Jazz Band, Rock/R&B covers with the Too Damn Big Orchestra, progressive hip-hop with DC artist Christylez Bacon and has even played backup for comedian/singer Joe Piscopo. John has performed at the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival in Washington D.C. and overseas at the Jazz Ascona Festival in Switzerland and the first annual Nagano Jazz Festival in Japan. Throughout his career, he has shared the stage with jazz artists such as Benny Golson, Fred Wesley, Jimmie Owens, Bill Hughes, Freddie Redd, and Buck Hill. John is currently playing lead alto and soloing with the Thad Wilson Jazz Orchestra every Monday night at the historic Bohemian Caverns in Washington, D.C in addition to leading his own jazz quartet. In 2006, John received a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from George Mason University while studying with saxophonists, Dale Underwood and Jim Carroll. From 2006-2008, he studied woodwinds with Charlie Young III and Dr. Sais Kamalidiin while attending Howard University. In May 2008, he received a Master's of Music Degree in Jazz Studies from Howard University. As an educator, John has given workshops and lectures at universities and high schools. He has taught a jazz history course at George Mason University and is currently teaching music theory and composition at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, VA. He maintains a private lesson studio with students of all ages on flute, clarinet, and saxophone. John is currently a member of the DC Federation of Musicians Local 161-710 and the Washington Area Music Association.