As luck would have it, Smulyan finds a smoldering gem written by organist Don Patterson, ("Up In Betty's Room") that has a swaying, unpretentious melody, perfectly constructed for Peter Bernstein's wonderfully understated and logical guitar solo. Bernstein eschews crowding his solos with piles of notes; the result is a persuasive technique, that is sonically very intelligent. Smulyan's baritone sax and LeDonne's Hammond B3 appear very relaxed in playing the melody; coloring the musical domain with charming familiarity; meanwhile Kenny Washington describes the beat and maintains the time with immaculate precision bordering on celestial.
|Guirarist Peter Bernstein|
The classic format for organ is usually - organ/tenor sax or, organ/guitar (musical rum and coke, or whiskey and soda), take your pick! But organ/baritone sax, not very often; even Smulyan admits that this is a first for him. Smulyan grew up on a steady musical diet of guitarist George Benson, organists Lonnie Smith, Larry Young, Don Patterson, and alto/tenor saxophone titan Sonny Stitt. It follows that Smulyan knows a thing or two about organs, organists and what he likes to hear.
His players have been around good music and iconic jazz musicians for their entire careers. In this regard they are kindred spirits. Peter Bernstein studied jazz at Rutgers University with Ted Dunbar and Kenny Barron. He has played with tenor saxophonists Sonny Rollins, , Joshua Redman, Eric Alexander, Joe Lovano, alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson, organist Jack McDuff, pianist Brad Meldau, singer Diana Krall, drummer Jimmy Cobb, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, and many, many more. His guitar solo on Smulyan's swinging, bopish composition (Smul's Paradise) is clean, clear, warm and evenly melodic. He always knows where he is going, and proceeds confidently.
|Drummer Kenny Washington|
|Hammond B3 organist|
Mike Le Donne
It maybe simply a case of outrageous, fortuitous serendipity that makes this CD such a tour de force of tonal warmth, familiarity, modernity; not running afoul of the laws of good texture, or turning out an unrecognizable experiment. It seems patently obvious, to me at least, that Gary Smulyan's brain child of pairing the "granite tone" of his baritone saxophone, and "his eminently refined technique" with Mike LeDonne's warm Hammond B3 organ has in it's own way elevated serendipity to stirring genius.
There may be a new bird in paradise, and Smulyan's "raspy" baritone saxophone might be its tweet!
Track Listing: Sunny; Up In Betty's Room; Pistaccio; Smul's Paradise; Little Miss Half Steps; Aires; Blues For D. P.; Heavenly Hours.
Produced by Thomas Burns
Recorded at Manfred Knoop Studio - River Edge, NJ
Recording and Mixing Engineer - Christopher Sulit
Mastered at Airshow Mastering, Boulder, CO
Mastering Engineer - David Glasser
Graphic Design - Nathalie Breakstone
Mike LeDonne appears courtesy of Savant Records
Gary Smulyan endorses Vandoren Woodwind Products
CAPRI Records, Ltd.
P. O. Box 892 Bailey. CO 80421