This week, I’ve been revisiting my jazz roots. Some of you peeps may not be aware that I’m an alto saxophonist from way back. That also makes the sax one of my favorite instruments. So let’s take a look at two of my favorite artists.
Stardust by Joshua Redman
Berkeley, California native Joshua Redman has been immersed in the New York jazz scene for decades. Playing with an incredible line-up of people, including Pat Metheny, Roy Hargrove and Christian McBride. Winner of the 1991 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition he was later signed by Warner Bros. Records. His self-titled album came out in 1993 and a Grammy nomination soon followed. Multiple albums and honors followed. Want to know why Redman is such a big deal?
Listen to the sultry sounds of Redman’s sax on Stardust. It contains everything that’s wonderful about a redesigned jazz standard. Flawless improvisation, brilliant tone, and tradition interpretation with a modern twist.
Vera Cruz by Stanley Turrentine
I’m a jazz fan from way back and one of my favorites is the great Stanley Turrentine. And here’s the best part–I love when I get to say this—he’s from my hometown! Born in Pittsburgh, PA, Turrentine was brought into the Hill District and raised by a musical family. Incidentally, that’s right down the hill from where I went to college at Duquesne University (pronounced duke-cane). I even gave him a mention in my second book, The Fallen Stars.
What’s super cool about Turrentine is that he never received any formal training except during his time in the military in the Fifties. Not long after that he picked up a gig with drummer Max Roach. He worked with all of the greats, including one of my personal favs, George Benson. Though he lived in Maryland, he was buried in Pittsburgh after his death from a stroke in 2000.
Vera Cruz is an up-beat fusion jazz number that highlights his tremendous sound. I love the latin beat even though it has that quintessential Seventies sound that makes me wonder if I’ve stepped into a retro sitcom.
Have a listen!