Live From Austin, the latest album from trombonist Ron Westray and trumpeter Thomas Heflin. The album features internationally known artists such as Neal Caine, regular bassist with Harry Connick Jr., Eric Revis, featured bass player with the Branford Marsalis quartet, and drummer Adonis Rose, who toured extensively with Nicholas Payton. The group also features three of the top jazz musicians in Austin Texas: Elias Haslanger, Peter Stoltzman and David Sierra.
Heflin and Westray recorded the album in 2009 while living in Austin, TX. At the time Heflin was completing his doctorate in music and Westray was serving as professor of jazz at the University of Texas. The recording project was conceived as a way to capture the energy of live jazz in Austin, a city known as the “live music capital of the world.” It felt appropriate to make the recording at the jazz club, The Elephant Room, which was selected as one of the top ten jazz venues in the United States by Wynton Marsalis in USA TODAY. The recording features all original compositions from the pens of Westray, Heflin and Austin jazz star Elias Haslanger.
Ron Westray is already one of the most highly regarded trombonists of his generation. In addition to serving as lead trombonist with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, he is known for his collaborative album with Wycliffe Gordon on the Atlantic label entitled Bone Structure. In past years, he also toured as a member of the Marcus Roberts Quintet and the Mingus Big Band, as well as performed with a roster of jazz notables too long to list. In 2008, Westray released Medical Cures for the Chromatic Commands of the Inner City. Ron is currently an Associate Professor at York University (Toronto, CA) and also serves as the Oscar Peterson Chair in Jazz Performance.
Rising star Thomas Heflin has already gained a fan base internationally with his style and command of the trumpet. In 2005, he placed second in the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition in Seattle, Washington. Two years later, he released his debut album, Symmetry. Marco Maimeri's of Italy’s “Jazz Magazine,” described the CD as "… the extension of a charismatic leader with an innovative style, who has the heritage of Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan, but who does not forget the lessons of Freddie Hubbard…" In 2009, Heflin released his follow-up recording with the jazz collective “The New Five.” “Live from Austin” marks his third release on Blue Canoe Records. He currently lives in New York City where he works as the Program Manager of the Precollege Division at the Manhattan School of Music.
"Introducing The New 5" is a fresh post-bop debut with a classic quintet vibe. This compilation is the perfect fusion of classic and contemporary jazz. "Listening to this music is pure pleasure. I highly recommend it" - JoAnne Brackeen
The New 5 was born out of the doctoral music program at the University of Texas @ Austin. Thomas Heflin (trumpet) has played with Grammy-winner Stephon Harris, Donald Brown, James Williams, Lou Rawls and Ron Westray. In 2005, Mr. Heflin won second place in the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition in Seattle.
Michael Arthurs (tenor sax) has studied with Joe Lovano and George Coleman among others and was named the Outstanding Soloist at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival. Peter Stoltzman (piano) is the son of two-time Grammy-winning clarinetist Richard Stoltzman and has performed in prestigious places such as Carnegie Hall and The Hollywood Bowl. Mr. Stoltzman has been described as a "monster jazz piano player" by the late Jack Elliot (music director of the Mancini Institute and the Grammy Awards). David Colvin (drums) has performed on the David Letterman Show and Austin City Limits as a member of the rock outfit Heartless Bastards. Chris Budhan (bass) is a festival producer in Eastern Canada and presents more than 1,000 performances each summer as part of the City Stages and Always On Stage Festivals.
The New 5 is a premium example of the whole being greater than the sum of it's parts. They dynamic interplay between these rising stars is the reason jazz lovers push "repeat".
"Look What the Cats Drug In" opens with ripping guitar work from Dan Baraszu on "Neutron Star", a song inspired by Stevie Wonder's "Too High". There is no slowing down with the complex harmonies by Eugene Maslov on "Last Ray". Blue Canoe's stable of talented artists is further exposed in "Symmetry 1" with the fluid, highly polished lines of virtuoso trumpeter Thomas Heflin. The album continues with unimaginable horn players Bryan Lopes and Ron Westray as well as the stellar compositional and orchestral arranging of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra. The compilation brings it home rhythmically with percussionists Philip Smith and Jimmy "Junebug" Jackson. Listen for the famous Jimmy Smith on the B3 on the final tune by Junebug, "Save Your Love For Me (live)".
"Look What the Cats Drug In" is a vibrant exploration of the post-bop gems in Blue Canoe Records' vast and ever-growing catalog. Quite literally, "Look What the Cats Drug In" displays the finest musicianship of modern jazz.
Bryan Lopes Trio's debut CD for Blue Canoe Records,"Bryan Lopes Trio Volume 1", is a high energy expedition crossing from jazz to R&B to funk and back again. This trio also displays the talent of award-winning drummer Jeff Sipe (Jonas Hellborg, Leftover Salmon, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, featured in Modern Drummer August 2008) and multi-instrumentalist Neil Fountain on bass (The Fiji Mariners, Jimmy Herring, Megaphone Man).
Atlanta first-call session man Bryan Lopes works with numerous incarnations of experimental jazz jam bands as well as some of the greats of jazz, pop, rock and R&B music including Chick Corea, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Natalie Cole, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Stone Temple Pilots and Don Henley among others. "Bryan Lopes is one of the most stylistically aggressive saxophonists living in the Southeast", says Jazziz writer James Rozzi. Lopes and crew lead listeners on a prismatic journey from jazz to funk to turbulent improvisation on this offering.
"Bouncy Pants" opens the release displaying the complex interaction between Sipe and Fountain as Lopes use of complex harmony suggestive of Michael Brecker. By the third and fourth tracks, "Happy Evil" and "Landau" the crew show their bop-chops with swinging rhythmic interaction and fantastic improvisatory stretches for which Lopes is famous. The album concludes with a funk jam of generous interplay and constantly changing tempos in "Terrelism" and the sultry "Two Pavilion Way" that conjures images of the lonely sax-man on a foggy, deserted street at 3am.
The first Blue Canoe Records release of the Bryan Lopes Trio does not disappoint. "Bryan Lopes Trio Volume 1" offers an adventurous journey into the modern jazz exploits of three of the most promising modern music-men of today.
The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra’s debut cd for Blue Canoe Records, “Blues Man from Memphis”, is a most adventurous big band effort featuring the work of Donald Brown. The recording also highlights the prodigious talents of three other world renowned artists: bassist John Clayton, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, and saxophonist Greg Tardy.
Pianist Donald Brown (who also produced the cd) is considered to be one of the most innovative composers in the field of jazz today. Among the many accolades Brown has received, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis says: “Donald Brown is a genius.” Bassist Ron Carter adds: “For those who look around and ask, ‘Where is the next great jazz composer? Who is going to lead the music into the twenty-first century?’ Look no further. Donald Brown is here.” Brown’s compositions have been recorded by many artists. Wynton Marsalis’ recording of “Insane Asylum” on “J-Mood” was nominated for a Grammy, as was Donald Byrd’s recording of “Theme for Malcolm”.
As a testimonial to Donald Brown’s expertise as a piano player, the late Art Blakey professed: “Donald Brown is one of my favorite accompanists with The Jazz Messengers since Cedar Walton and Walter Bishop, Jr.”
The KJO is a supercharged, motivated ensemble formed in 1999 by trumpet player/arranger Vance Thompson. Although a large group (17+ members), they perform regularly and have played prestigious venues such as The Montreaux Jazz Festival. The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra has a wide fan base, largely due to the enthusiasm incurred by compelling and exciting arrangements and famous guest artists.
All of the compositions on this cd are by Donald Brown. The arrangements and orchestrations are by Vance Thompson and Bill Mobley, respectively.
“Blues Man from Memphis” is an ingenious, inspired work for the contemporary jazz big band. Twenty-first century jazz is alive and thriving.