As goals go, you would think that recording a jazz trio project isn’t that elusive. For jazz composer and pianist Bob Schlesinger, though, that dream was his Golden Fleece.
Of course, he has accomplished much in and beyond music. Serving briefly in his twenties as director of operations with the pioneering audio company Soundstream, Schlesinger participated in early digital recording sessions with major orchestras in the United States and Europe, years before CDs hit the market. He spearheaded various bands that have dug deep into the gardens of straight-ahead jazz, jazz fusion, jazz/funk and other nuanced genres. He recorded solo, as half of a duo, in quartet and larger formats and in music-meets-poetry extemporizations with poet Jim Cohn. He opened for James Brown, Earth Wind & Fire, Buddy Guy and other headliners as accompanist to blues/R&B/jazz diva Hazel Miller. He was even certified to teach the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education.
But as high as it was on his priority list, a trio album never happened … until now.
“Lots of musicians talk about making their own records — they have the talent, the bread, and even the tunes — but they can’t seem to get it together. It also takes courage to create something new. Bob has a creative spirit and is a great guy. That’s why musicians keep going and hopefully make good music together.”
“I so enjoyed listening to your CD in full today! Really a wonderful project and I dig the alternating quartet and trio format and your compositions and arrangements.
Beautiful playing, and I especially like your solo piano introductions (and the complete solo on Hard Times). You have a special touch and heartfelt playing on the ballads. It was great hearing you play with Mike, Eddie, Billy, Kim and Dean.
INSPIRATION & GENESIS
This album is dedicated to my jazz piano teacher, Ted Alexander (1917-2011).
I studied privately with Ted from 1975-81while pursuing a degree in music composition at the University of Colorado. In 2005, I returned to study with him during the last years of his life. Ted gave me new ways of thinking about music. He believed in me. And he entrusted me with his legacy of writings, compositions, and unpublished books.
EDDIE & BILLY
In 2009, Dazzle (Denver’s premier jazz club) honored Ted with a concert featuring Eddie Gomez on bass. Eddie met Ted while he was touring with Bill Evans in the 1960s and the three became friends. At the Dazzle concert, I was honored to be invited to sit in with Eddie, and afterward I asked him if we could record together. Eight years later, I applied for a Pathways to Jazz grant to record in NYC with Eddie and drummer Billy Drummond. That grant was the genesis of this project. We recorded eight tunes together in September 2018.
Since 1988, I have made regular pilgrimages to hear Mike Stern play at the 55 Bar in New York. These visits greatly influenced my playing. I love how he ends tunes with a long vamp and distorted guitar. I think it gave me permission to bring my blues and rock influences into my jazz performances. In preparing to record, one of my pieces was begging for guitar. I thought of Mike and asked him, and he ended up recording four tunes with us. What a thrill!
KIM & DEAN
The anchors of my working group are Kim Stone on bass and Dean Oldencott on drums. At the September recording session in NYC, Mike mentioned he would have time mid-tour in December to record in Boulder, where Kim and Dean joined us for six tunes. One became the title tune for this album. The rest of those tracks will be on the next album.