Ask Me Now
Over the years John, Renell and I have been working on tunes composed by our favorite jazz artist-composers. For us, the jazz world experienced an astonishing period of invention and discovery from around the mid 1950s through the early 1980s. We were there to witness the emergence of a brave improvised music, created by some of the greatest jazz artist-composers of all time. The tunes on this album embody some of the most seminal rhythmic, harmonic and formal innovations from that era. The compositions and the musical mindset involved in playing this music has provided musical challenges for us â€" challenges that have required learning new creative musical skills in order to expand our repertoire. Some of the tunes are identified mostly with their original composer, such as Charles Mingusâ€™ bluesy Goodbye Porkpie Hat and Thelonius Monkâ€™s lyrical Ask Me Now. Others are identified by a particular rendition, such as with Bill Evansâ€™ luscious interpretations of Detour Ahead and You Must Believe in Spring. Some are associated with the composer-performer only, such as with Chick Coreaâ€™s spicy-quick Straight Up and Down and The Hairy Canary. Snow Peas, written by Phil Markowitz and Pee Wee, by Tony Williams, employ harmonic complexity within unusual form structures. They are relatively unknown, even by many jazz players. I regret that we could include only one of Wayne Shorterâ€™s tunes, the lumbering Fee Fi Fo Fum, a groove not heard often enough. Wayne is arguably one of the greatest jazz composers of all time. Scotch and Water, written by Joe Zawinul, and Whisper Not, by Benny Golsen, are modern jazz classics. Theyâ€™re just great tunes that we enjoy playing, but for whatever reasons have become fairly obscure in recent times. Most of the tunes in this collection are seldom heard in live performance and fewer yet in live jazz recordings. In this album we have attempted to capture the spirit of the music and the vitality of live performance without over-dubbing or note editing. Many of the tunes on the album were captured in just one take, and most of the others in the first take. Once the recording levels were set we just let it go, never playing a tune the same way twice. We want our music to sound fresh and human, and we place the value of spontaneous creativity over the perfect execution of arrangements. Spontaneity can be very risky, but it can also reap great rewards. We dedicate our effort to the creative possibilities revealed through the combining of innovative composing with the art of improvisation and the listenerâ€™s new ears. To us, that is the spirit of jazz.