Philadelphia has produced a prodigious amount of great jazz players over the decades, one of jazz’s most fertile grounds. One can amass a spectacular all-star dream ensemble of musicians born, raised or who have resided in the City of Brotherly Love! Following the tradition of the Philadelphia born NEA Jazz Master Benny Golson who recorded an all Philadelphia landmark album, The Philadelphians, six educators of the Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance have released Family Feeling, KUVO Jazz’s November 2018 CD of the Month which in my humble opinion is an instant classic and a must have in a serious jazz collection. One of jazz’s current trumpet master and instructors Terell Stafford assembled five of his outstanding colleagues to accompany him for the recording of Family Feeling, Mr. Stafford is a popular and well known visitor to Colorado as for many years he has been part of the group of instructors for the annual Vail Jazz Student Camp held in August which culminates in the Labor Day weekend Vail Jazz Party where the students and the instructors perform. Moreover, Terell recently was part of the highly acclaimed 2017 big band recording, Clockwise in tribute to Cedar Walton by Colorado based pianist/educator Ben Markley.
The veteran pianist-composer Bruce Barth penned and arranged all eight selections of Family Feeling, writing parts to fit perfectly for each of his bandmates to truly convey the feeling of family. The recording kicks off with the captivating tribute to Philadelphia native son. The gifted pianist, McCoy Tyner, Blues for Mr. Tyner sets the energetic pace that continues throughout the CD to the final coda. Another entry in the album’s playlist is Mode for Trane, a tune written for John Coltrane who spent his formative years as a musician in Philly. There’s a hint of Afro-Cuban in Ven Conmigo (come with me) and some retro Philly soul etched into the track that serves as the title of this session. The final entry is perhaps the tour de force, T Staff Flies Again, a showcase for the incredible playing of Stafford which proves why he is considered not only one of the top shelf trumpeters of the current jazz scene, but also one of the most dynamic players of the trumpet in jazz history. In addition to Terell and Bruce, the seasoned alto saxophonist of note, Dick Oatts adds his distinctive sound, Tim Warfield plays a soulful tenor sax, David Wong holds it down at the bass and Byron Landham is the powerful drummer. All these gentlemen are leaders of their own groups and are in high demand for studio recordings and playing live on stage around the globe. After listening to Family Feeling from start to finish you just might experience the same exhilaration Rocky Balboa felt after he ran up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art!
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