One Saturday afternoon in April of 1997, nine Atlanta jazz musicians assembled outside a local watering hole, shuffling about, waiting for a rehearsal to begin. The joint was locked, the club owner was late, and we all knew that big bands were dead. When the Tempest Little Big Band finally sat down and began reading the charts, the cats perked up, the club owner got giggly, and the band was on their way to nearly three years of weekly bookings. That Saturday afternoon was Tempest’s first and last rehearsal.
Jazz musicians hate to rehearse. They’re all about improvisation, not only when standing up to solo, but with music and life in general. It’s not so much a relish of potential disaster as it is an addiction to challenge. Tempest incorporates tangible uncertainty into their gigs. Not a club date goes by when Tempest doesn’t play something with the ink still wet: new arrangements by noted local orchestrators. Invariably, they format tunes differently and spontaneously from gig to gig. It’s kind of an unspoken, “Hey, let’s find out in front of lots of people what happens when we try this.” It’s fun.
Tempest Little Big Band a nine-piece big band featuring a vocalist, nurturing and maintaining the spirit and appeal of a quintet. This CD titled, "Round Midnight" was a long time coming: their first recorded live studio album. Nothing here was played more than a handful of times prior to the session. Three arrangements were brand new to the band.
"Round Midnight" is not meant to be a hard-core jazz album. It’s simply music they like— recorded in five hours on one hot Atlanta afternoon—showcasing a snap shot of the 150+ song repertoire now in Tempest’s book. Tempest loves to play the blues. “Captain Cheerio” is one of three sets’-worth of disparate blues tunes we could have chosen here. We enjoy playing black-tie affairs, hence, the more danceable fare of “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” “Satin Doll,” and “Sway.” Tempest has a deep, abiding reverence for the jazz classics, so you’ll hear “Shiny Stockings,” “Caravan,” and “Thermo” performed as they were originally intended. We love it all and hope it shows.
Spotify Playlists from Blue Canoe Records. Adding and updating frequently: https://open.spotify.com/user/bluecanoerecords
"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.