|The new series of jazz concerts that Dutch pianist Rein de Graaff has presented in recent years has been very successful and will soon extend into its fourth year. One of the locations where his trio and guests have made their appearance (and will continue to do so) and where as an additional attraction he has also lectured, is Utrecht's Music Centre Vredenburg, situated in the heart of Holland.
Here each season his audience of jazz afficionados flocks together to enjoy the high calibre music focused on specific aspects of Modern Jazz history.
Most of De Graaff's foreign guest-performers have shown an actual involvement with his topics and their contributions have helped to turn his 'Continued Courses in Bebop' into a unique experience. The pianist's background, his roots in the fertile soil of bebop, and enthusiastic commitment to a good cause, are shared and supported by his longtime colleagues Koos Serierse, who prominently features the full tones of his instrument, and Eric Ineke at the drums, constantly supporting what is going on around him with rhythmic inventions.
In the course of this present enterprise another great numberof talented musicians has been brought on stage, and to name just the tenor sax players will give an idea of what the audience has been treated to: men like Johnny Griffin, Junior Cook, LewTabackin, Bill Perkins, Harold Land, Frank Wess, ArnettCobb, Pete Christlieb, Ted Brown, Clifford Jordan, Sal Nistico and of course Teddy Edwards have all been featured in various performances.
In the spring of 1990 time had come for Rein to devote a chapter of the Tenor Book to the specimen of Texas, and in a memorable finale of the season he introduced David 'Fathead' Newman and Marchel Ivery, to demonstrate the legendary sound of the Texas Tenors! The proceedings that night took place with the approval and cheers of all who were present, musicians and public alike, in an atmosphere of excitement. When the traditional curtain call had brought their last set to a close, everybody must have returned home with obvious feelings of satisfaction. Unknown to most of us at the time was that some time before a recording date had been arranged by Timeless Records, to give this musical meeting some wider exposure.
To those who have heard the quintet live, it will come as a surprise to hold a tangible memory in their hands now.
Both Newman (born in 1933) and Ivery (1938) originate from Texas, the area that previously was the initial playing ground for tenorists of an elder generation, such as Arnett Cobb, Buddy Tate and Illinois Jacquet, and from where in the 1950s others left for different regions in the U.S.: James Clay, Don Wilkerson and Booker Ervin. Of those mentioned, most have kept their tradition going, and the breed of strong players presented here is ready to prove it. David Newman came to prominence in the ranks of the Ray Charles Orchestra and as a member of the various small groups recruited from that band more than thirty years ago, although the friendships stemming from those days have provided him with musical contacts up to the present. Living in NYC for the last decade, David is an active musician on the scene, has done several albums as a leader and was featured on records by Junior Mance, Pat Peterson and Buddy Montgomery.
Not so well-documented is the career of Marchel Ivery, who is reported to have spent some time in the past in Europe (he played with Bud Powell and Oscar Pettiford in Paris), and before returning home to Texas, fora while was underArt Blakey's wing with the Messengers. Ivery has become a well known figure in his hometown Dallas, where he appeared with Red Garland, McCoy Tyner, Jon Faddis and drummer Paul Guerrero. The participation of the triumvirate Newman, Clay and Ivery in the famous Woodmen Hall sessions certainly will have established their names in the hall of local fame. This modest and sympathetic man has delighted all ears here with his powerful contributions!
On 1 May 1990 a savory menu was prepared and put on tape in the studio, resulting in seven dishes; the opener is Bennie Green's BLUE GREENS & BEANS, a title that suggests some appetizing soul food, followed by the other numbers that range from two well known bop standards and a blues tribute to the land of origin written by Babs Gonzales, to a fruitful David Newman original and solo efforts done by both saxophonists, each showing his way to handle the ballad of his choice.
When the meal is served and you have the first taste of some fat licks filling the premises, and later proceed to the tender and beautiful moments, you will sense the overall blowing power of these earthy individuals and certainly will welcome the impact of this encounter, where the Dutch rhythm section measures up to the demands of two representatives of the -still hard to define-saxophone sound that in mood, quality and expression is linked to the Lone Star State.
While watching one of those WESTERNS not long ago, I picked up a phrase that in the context of the film was used as some kind of mean snarl. A tough guy was setting things straight with grim defiance, and what he said sounded funny: "There's two kinds of people, those with loaded guns and those that have to dig...!"
With a bit of imagination the quote can be applied to those same plains of Texas and their wide open spaces, because....
Ready for battle and with apparent conviction I very and Newman have done some re-loading of their musical weapons, and when they start blow ing, the message comes to us very clearly: there is a lot to enjoy! You dig?!
Ep.T. Lettinga August 1990
Recorded at Sudio 44, Monster, Holland
Recording date: 1 May 1990.