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.
J-Mood Jazz Band takes these holiday classics for a fresh spin through the winter snow. These superstar musicians have a warm, inviting vibe that is irresistible. The interplay between the piano sax and vocals is remarkable. Note the opening track, "Jingle Bells". This standard melody jumps to life as the conversation between Mr. John Carrozza's piano and Mrs. Jen Carrozza's vocals commences. The listener is eventually carried away when guest saxophonist Sam Skelton chimes in with his smooth, rich solo response.
"Let It Snow" is the perfect follow-up to the up tempo rendition of "Jingle Bells". One can feel the warm fire crackle as the mellow piano rolls in response to the call of the traditional melody.
"Welcome to Our World" warms the listener to the true meaning of Christmas. "...perfect son of God, welcome to our world...", sings Mrs. Carrozza with her lullaby-sweet voice. This is a truly touching version of this modern gospel testimony.
J-Mood takes us for a few more spins around the snow-laden sleigh track with "Sleigh Ride" and "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm". You would never that J-Mood hails from the Southern USA with their enthrallment over cold winters. Fortunately for the listener, these magnificent musicians have given us a glimpse into their chilly world...and have managed to heat things up in the process.
"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.