Baritone saxophonist Joe Temperley had a tough task when he joined the Ellington orchestra in the mid-’70s. His predecessor, senior member Harry Carney, had passed only a few months earlier, and there were rumblings that the end was nearing for the Ellington ensemble. Temperley proved a highly capable replacement, bringing both vitality and knowledge of the Ellington book, and thus enabling the unit to keep functioning through the most difficult period in its history.
Since 1990, he’s been a member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Those who heard the band last year at the Ryman will remember how delicately and earnestly Temperley articulated the chorus of “Sophisticated Lady,” and how aggressively he played whenever he was in the spotlight.
Temperley’s new release Double Duke, on the Franklin-based Naxos imprint, shouldn’t be overlooked in the deluge of Ellington reissues released in connection with the composer/bandleader’s centennial celebration this year. Besides his buoyant baritone work, the saxophonist demonstrates masterful abilities on soprano and bass clarinet, providing first-rate readings and solos on Billy Strayhorn’s “Rain Check,” Ellington’s “Creole Love Call,” and George Gershwin’s “Fascinatin’ Rhythm.”
His quintet includes trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, a fellow Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra member and one of the finest plunger/mute stylists around today. Gordon’s slurs, smears, and horn work are uncannily close to echoing “Tricky” Sam Nanton, especially on “Black and Tan Fantasy.” Pianist Eric Reed, bassist Rodney Whitaker, and drummer Herlin Riley comprise a strong rhythm section, while Temperley doubles as producer. Among Naxos’ jazz releases, Double Duke is a more traditional outing, but it serves as a worthy addition to the year’s Ellington tributes.
Next time you find yourself at Slick Willy’s, the dance/karaoke hangout behind Hooters on Harding Place, check out the black-light murals of moonscapes, Jupiter, etc. They’re the work of Butch Cook, singer/guitarist for the local band Bleed, who completed them in about 70 hours. Flick on the black lights, and the room begins to throb with a green glow. And that’s not even the best part. “When they turn on the smoke machine and disco lights, it makes ’em look even better,” the artist says proudly.
Cook is also CEO and chief producer of Twisted Sound Records, which has just issued its first release: OB-1, a cassette-only long-player by Nashville raver DJ Mitochondria. So far, the tape isn’t available in stores; your best bet is to send a money order for $5 to 508 Oak Timber Place, Antioch, TN 37013. But Cook assures us that more TSR product is on the way, including a release by country act Gary Butler. In the meantime, you can always stop by Slick Willy’s for a taste of karaoke by the shine of a black-light moon.
Gunning for attention
More proof that the entertainment industry exists in a world of its own: An aspiring teen country group formerly known as Young Guns has announced plans to change its name because of the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colo. Understandable, but apparently that’s not enough. The group membersfive Tennessee and Alabama guys between the ages of 17 and 21have also decided to release a tribute song, “Take This Heart.” Group member George DeHoff said in a press release, “This is a small sacrifice for us. All we lost was our band’s name, but the Littleton victims lost everything, including their lives.”
How very sensitive of him.
It’s hard to decide what’s more objectionable: Comparing the forfeiture of a band name with a monumental tragedy, or suggesting that they’re being generous in tying a new single to the shooting. No matter what they say, or maybe even believe, the unsigned country group is using a national tragedy to get some attention for themselves. So far, these young pistols have been ignored by radio, the media, and major record companies. Obviously, a single released by an unknown band does little to raise money for anyoneunless, of course, someone plays it and puts it into retail stores. And that’s what the band desperately wants. So, what the hell, they must’ve figured: Maybe we can help someone while helping ourselves. Or vice-versa.
Gospel, jazz, and technology converge on Dave Patrick’s recent release, A Future and a Hope (CJM). The Nashville guitarist issued the project as an enhanced CD, with videos, photos, and liner notes all viewable using a computer’s CD-ROM drive. He composed, arranged, and produced all 10 selections, on which he’s joined by percussionist Chris Patterson. Acoustic guitarist Jeff Moore is featured in the accompanying video, and various scriptural passages serve as guideposts throughout the disc to link the music both with the religious themes and technical extras. Fans of gospel and smooth jazz will want to check it out, but those looking for jazz with a solid, more adventurous grounding are directed elsewhere.
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