Sunday, February 19, 2017

What Happened to The Big Band and Tentet CDs?

After last week's stimulating experience interviewing Detroit pianist Charles Boles, this week was pretty sleepy by comparison. I did exchange emails with Chip McNeill at the University of Illinois regarding the long awaited CD of big band performances of Pepper Adams tunes. Unfortunately, the Illinois state budget is still on shaky ground and McNeil's esteemed jazz program has suffered because of it. For the past few years, Illinois has slashed public college educational spending. Limited resources has kept McNeill from having the revenue to, among other things, release the date on Armored Records. He told me that if he has any money left over at the end of this semester, he'll finally be able to release the CD.

This is the recording that features arrangements by the superb British drummer and arranger Tony Faulkner. In order for Faulkner to get paid, travel from England to North America for a month tour of concerts and lectures with me, and pay for the mastering of the original concert done at the University of Illinois, Tony and I oversaw a stressful but ultimately successful 30-day Kickstarter campaign in the summer of 2013. Somehow we exceeded our goal of $7000.  On behalf of Tony Faulkner, I want to thank all of you for your funding of the project. We remain eternally grateful.

One large contributor was baritone saxophonist Jon Gudmundson, who leads the jazz program at Utah State University. It was Jon's three-part goal to perform some of these charts, feature a guest soloist at the concert, and invite me to speak about Pepper. That dream is finally coming to fruition in a few weeks. His big band is performing these tough Faulkner charts on Wednesday night, April 5, in Logan, Utah, with baritone saxophonist Jason Marshall as soloist. I'll be doing some kind of pre-concert talk, plus lecturing at a jazz class the day before. While in Utah, I'm also doing lectures at Westminster College, Salt Lake Community College, and possibly a few other schools.

The big band recording that Tony and I worked on was to be Volume 6 of my multi-volume CD series of Pepper's music. My record label, Motema, cut me loose after Volume 5 due to lackluster sales. At that point, not having a label, Chip and Glenn Wilson took back the project, deciding to search for a label or self-produce it through the university. After announcing its release on Armored, I thought the issue was concluded. Two winters ago the date was scheduled for release. Then I heard something about the owner's wife having a baby. Now it's Illinois' budget problem. We're nearly four years after the date has been recorded. Because of it being in limbo for far longer than any of us thought possible, the patience of some of my donors has no doubt been tried. Chip McNeill does not want me to release an edited version on CD Baby that we produced for Motema. In respect to his wishes, I continue to wait. Almost all of the donors will be receiving a surprise CD in the mail. I wish I knew when!

In the mail this week arrived a sampler CD, All Blues, from Denny Christianson, director of Humber College's great jazz program: Sometime after Tony Faulkner and I lectured at Humber in Toronto in the Fall of 2013, Christianson directed his Humber Studio Jazz Ensemble to record a collection of tunes, one of which was Pepper Adams' composition Doctor Deep. Finally, there's a well-produced studio version of one of Tony charts! Despite so many great concerts of his Adams charts done in 2012 and 2013, and even with the prospect of doing two recordings of Faulkner's arrangements, this Humber recording is the first and only commercial release of anything he wrote. The main reason why Tony worked so hard was to create a book of material that could be performed by big band and tentet, some of which would be recorded. The Illinois date has languished, obviously, and a live tentet recording led by drummer Tim Horner didn't turn out as expected and won't be released.

Speaking of drummers, I just received this email out of the blue from drummer Tony Inzalaco. It was a response to an email I sent to him last November:

Hi Gary;  I am replying to your email concerning working with Pepper Adams, etc. Sorry it has taken me so long to respond but I rarely check the email that you contacted me on. I would be happy to speak with you about Pepper but not by email. So if you are interested I would prefer speaking via telephone. You can either send me your number or request my number. Park was one of the great gentlemen of Jazz and his body of work is a testament of his artistic level of excellence.   

Tony Inzalaco

Here's my original email:

Hi Tony: In my interview with Pepper Adams, he mentioned playing with you in Atlantic City. He said it was a sextet led by Maynard Ferguson. I've been able to approximate the dates as cApr 20-24, 1965 and cApr 27-May 2, 1965. Might you remember who else was in that band, the venue, or anything else about it? Did you work with Pepper on any other occasions?

I'm scheduled to interview Tony this afternoon

                      (Tony Inzalaco)

In a few weeks,'s webmaster, Dan Olson, and I will be adding audio content of some of these big band performances of Faulkner's charts from 2013, including some great things on YouTube that haven't been seen because they're not properly indexed. By then, I should know if I'm going abroad in late September to give a presentation about Pepper Adams and Detroit in Darmstadt, Germany. My research over the last few months has been working toward having something of substance to present in Germany. If it comes to pass, I've been invited to Prague to stay with tenor saxophonist Osian Roberts. He'll no doubt do a gig of Pepper tunes when I'm there, hopefully with a big band, since he too arranged a few big band charts of Pepper's music. I'm hoping to lecture about Pepper at a few schools, including possibly the Prague Conservatory, if all works out.              
                            (Tony Faulkner)

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