EJ Hughes is back in the light with his riveting Blue Canoe Records release "The Emotional Vampire Sessions" a followup to his 2005 release on Blue Canoe "Something to Say". The Saxophonist has traveled extensively performing in many genres with a passion and deep-rooted training in Jazz, Classical, and Contemporary music.
Mr. Hughes has taught, performed, and recorded in New York, Georgia, Florida, New Hampshire, and Singapore as well as extensive cruise ship work traveling to over 20 countries. He has spent much of his life as an educator working with students from elementary school to high school to college and beyond. Mr. Hughes is a current instructor at Music and Arts and has helped Georgia State University’s RYJO high school jazz program. In the past, EJ was the instructor of jazz saxophone for Emory University and also taught Advanced Improvisation and Jazz applied saxophone for Georgia State University before returning to his hometown in New Hampshire to be the band director and general music instructor. Hughes has performed with the likes of Grammy award winner Joe Lovano, Grammy-nominated Sam Rivers and two time Grammy winning hip-hop collective Speech & Arrested Development. Says Sam Rivers, "EJ Hughes is a talented musician who understands the beauties and intricacies of the music, an artist destined to make a valuable contribution to this art form".
"The Emotional Vampire Sessions" (recorded and mixed by John Marshden) leads off with ghosts rather than Vampires with "Ghosts in the Machine". Kevin Bales (Wynton Marsalis, Sam Rivers, and Nat Adderley, Rene Marie) breaks the silence emphatically with the thematic piano groove and makes way for Mr. Hughes’s soaring saxophone and energetic melody. Hughes bounces around the theme with improvisational licks that are familiar yet unique. As drummer Marlon Patton (John Patitucci, Randy Brecker, Rufus Reid, Wycliffe Gordon) pulls and pushes playfully with the rhythm, Mr. Bales takes the helm mid-way through and shows improvisationally mature lead playing that slides away to a Billy Thornton (Dominick Farinacci, Christian Tamburr, Doug Carn) bass solo that continues to intertwine with Mr. Bales injections as the song builds and fades.
The album's title track opens with a sweet, touching piano intro that points the listener to an emotional ballad that one imagines an old crooner from the early 1950s will join. Just as the audience is ready for this sultry voice, Mr. Patton enters with a strong snare lead that explodes into rock-like keyboard interplay. Eventually, Mr. Hughes comes in and exploits the solid foundation that has been laid and the improvisational exploration is awe-inspiring. The vampires are emotional, indeed!
"The Emotional Vampire Sessions" by Atlanta sax-master EJ Hughes is a stunning sophomore release that brings something unique with each listen. The veteran players bring fresh and extraordinary perspective to these modern, straight-ahead jazz expressions. This release is not to be missed.
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Blue Canoe Records latest release from Trey Wright is a ripping set of originals that moves from solid, classic jazz to sweet, sympathetic ballads with ease. The compositions on Songs From Oak Avenue deserve notice as does the playing of this group of veterans.
Songs from Oak Avenue is Mr. Wright’s second solo release on Blue Canoe Records and his follow-up to Thinking Out Loud (2009). This release is comprised of brilliant melodies and creative interaction with the sparse instrumentation. Each player, including Atlanta-based Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Mace Hibbard and expert rhythm section Marc Miller (bass) and Marlon Patton (drums/engineer), is given ample space to express ideas freely and dynamically…and all do so with mindful abandon. Mr. Wright is a jazz guitarist, composer and recording artist based in Roswell, GA. He is the co-founder of the Athens/Atlanta based jam band Squat. The group is a six-time winner of Best Jazz Band at the Flagpole Athens Music Awards and has been a featured artist at the Atlanta Jazz Festival, Bel Chere, The Twilight Athens Jazz Festival, The Cherry Blossom Festival, Harvest Midtown and Athfest. Several of Mr. Wright’s compositions with the group have received international airplay and have been featured on Sirius/XM radio and NPR’s All Things Considered.
Mr. Wright also performs freelance in the Athens and Atlanta area and has performed with Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets), John Patitucci, Joe Lovano, Corey Christiansen and Darmon Meader of the New York Voices. He has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Jazz A Vienne and the World Sacred Music Festival in Bangalore, India. As a solo guitarist and with his trio, Mr. Wright has been a featured performer at the Athens Music and Arts Festival, The Lake Oconee Jazz Festival and the Atlanta Jazz Festival. Additionally, Mr. Wright is the guitar instructor at Kennesaw State University based in Kennesaw, GA.
Songs From Oak Avenue opens powerfully with “Boomerang”. Sam Skelton’s lush, industrious saxophone swings against Marc Miller’s walking bass pulse while Wright injects color in support of the melody. As the track unfolds, Mr. Skelton’s easily accessible melody expands to more challenging improvisational licks until finally giving way to a soaring electric solo from Trey Wright. The track ends in back and forth between the two that alternates between conversational style and a doubling of melody that ends the track as a warm invitation for the rest of Songs From Oak Avenue.
“Joni” is another distinguished track that highlights the talents of Trey Wright. “It is named and inspired by Joni Mitchell”, says Wright. “I have always been fascinated with her music…I was trying to emulate the floating feel and stream of consciousness approach of her music.” It opens with a subdued melody and tastefully chosen introduction to the inspirational talents of Grammy winner Mace Hibbard on the sax. The middle of this more contemporary tune this talented group is firing on all cylinders with all fully engaged and pushing each other forward against a rhythm section that delivers with forceful musicality.
Songs From Oak Avenue is a thoughtful, distinct offering put together by a group of veteran players that bring the right vibe at the right time. It is tastefully improvised and spacious while simultaneously thick and substantive. Trey Wright and his team are a group to be watched and Songs From Oak Avenue is an album to be heard…again and again.