Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Alto Madness: Bob Mover And Steve Wilson

Alto Madness: Bob Mover And Steve Wilson

the great Bob Mover

I consider myself very lucky that I still get calls to play with some of the living greats in jazz. I haven't lived in New York full time for give or take 5 years and a half years, but it appears I haven't been totally forgotten. This month I have had the pleasure of working with two amazing alto saxophonists, both of whom are perhaps underrated and definitely at the top of my list of musicians. If you haven't heard of them, you need to go check them out!

First, I played two gigs with the fabulous alto saxophonist and vocalist Bob Mover. I had met Mover a few times in New York but we had never really played together. We performed with a big band at Lower Columbia College in Longview, Washington ( under the direction of yet another great altoist and Portland State faculty David Valdez), but the real magic was a duo concert at Michelle's Piano in Portland later in the week. Mover is definitely old school; in his youth he spent time with masters Phil Woods, Charles Mingus, and Chet Baker. He knows a PILE of tunes; indeed, as much as I harp on my students to learn tunes, I was definitely out of my league. Mover the saxophonist was on fire, at times resembling Charlie Parker on steroids. But Mover the vocalist had a more sensitive side; he performed a beautiful rendition of " Estate" with the original italian lyrics, as well as a heart wrenching take on "Some Other Time." I, Valdez, and everyone in attendance of the concert agreed that Mover, despite some heath issues, never sounded better. ( It's kind of a shame that there wasn't any spot for Bob Mover at the PDX Jazz Festival. It's also a shame that more people weren't at the concert at Michelle's Piano. But I digress….) It was a great learning experience for me and I'm hoping Mover and I can find more opportunities to work together.

My fortune has continued into Spring Break with a tour of the midwest with alto and soprano master Steve Wilson. Mr. Wilson is one of the preeminent saxophonists in jazz, having worked with everyone from George Duke to Chick Corea. I've known Wilson for over two decades; we worked extensively with bassist Buster Williams for years. This quartet features bassist Ugonna Okegwo and the incredible Bill Stewart on drums. It's a high energy group that can swing hard but also journey to esoteric stratospheres. So far, we've played
Kalamazoo, Cleveland( my former employer, vocalist Vaness Rubin, surprised us by sitting in on Sunday night at NIghttown), and a clinic at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan( we are doing an educational residency here). Our next stops are The Green Mill in Chicago, and Columbia, Missouri. Wilson, Okegwo, and Stewart are at the top of their game. I know I'm technically on stage with them, but I feel more like I have the best seat on the house. It's very inspirational. Maybe we'll see you in Chicago, or Columbia, MO? 

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