Combining all three of his longstanding bands, drummer Matt Wilson has returned to the studio in full force with a Love Army of family and friends to pay tribute to violinist Felicia Wilson who performed on Matt's 2003 'Humidity,' became his wife and succumbed to leukemia in 2014. The result is a swinging session with moments of tender, bittersweet asides and studio banter. The star here is trumpeter Terell Stafford but the focus is cumulative...a joyous swingfest of epidemic proportions.
Lee Morgan was a Philadelphia bad boy. When he joined Dizzy Gillespie's band on trumpet at 18, the sky was the limit. That's his legendary solo on John Coltrane's 1957 "Blue Train." In the 1960s, he became a star; only Miles Davis shined brighter. 'The Sidewinder' (1963) is, arguably, one of the best jazz albums of all time. An outspoken advocate for his fellow musicians, he lobbied the television networks to feature more 1971 jazz greats. His end came in between two 1972 sets at Slug's Saloon on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where his ex-wife shot him dead during an argument. In so doing, she not only murdered a kind soul, but she robbed us all of his genius ever since. He was 33.
Legendary trumpeter Terell Stafford led the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia in a stunning holiday performance of "The Harlem Nutcracker" Dec. 3. Philadelphia saxophone tenor legends Bootsie Barnes, Larry McKenna and Jimmy Heath headlined the show. JOP performed in the Perelman Theatre at the Kimmel Center. The first set of the show was the full Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn's "The Harlem Nutcracker," a jazz classic of a theme and variation from Pyotr llyich Tchaikovsky's ballet score "Nutcracker Suite,” first recorded in 1960. "The Harlem Nutcracker" hails from New York, where the full version was first performed in 1996. “It’s not done too often because it is such a challenging piece. The group that mainly does it is Lincoln Center, and they do it all the way in New York,” says Stafford. "The Huffington Post" says JOP “completely cracks this nut completely open. 'Sugar Rum Cherry,' for instance, was more soused via a scorching, muted trumpets line and Sean Bailey's punch-drunk clarinet on 'Arabesque Cookie,' got us all intoxicated.”