Last week marked the release party of Jazz Legacy Productions at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City. The record industry, jazz community and press covered the event in honor of a music that’s fallen off the radar in the mainstream press. This event marks a new and exciting chapter of jazz music and to maintain the high standard to record quality music while keeping current with today’s jazz listeners.
Jazz Legacy Productions was co-founded by bassist, composer, and producer John Lee out of a need to groom and produce a new generation of jazz artists. Also, keep the legends who’ve created the blueprint of this music current by recording new music. Lee also saw the importance of how the internet is playing a part in today’s music listeners via i Tunes and the retail powerhouses like Amazon and Overstock.com.
The label is serious and has a cadre of artists that have recorded a slew of discs that have been well-received by the press and fans.
One of the most praised discs of 2009 is the Heath Brother’s “Endurance.” These two brothers have played with some of the most legendary jazz musicians in the industry. From Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball Adderley, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, James Moody and Ray Charles. Their brother Percy, was one of the co-founders of the Modern Jazz Quartet, which was one of the most important jazz groups in modern music. 60 years of jazz music have passed and the Heath Brothers have witnessed and graced the stage with many of the legends. As leaders, both Jimmy and Albert Heath still have the respect among their peers as well as fans from around the world. This year Jimmy just celebrated his 83rd birthday.
Jimmy’s performed with icons sharing the stage with Coleman Hawkins, Slam Stewart, and Erroll Garner. Throughout his career, Jimmy has performed on more than 100 record albums, including seven with The Heath Brothers and twelve as a leader. He’s also written over 125 compositions that have become standards. His works include seven suites and two string quartets and he premiered his first symphonic work “Three Ears” at Queens College. Jimmy’s son is R & B producer and writer James Mtume.
Albert Heath first recorded in 1957 with John Coltrane. Throughout his career he’s worked with J. J. Johnson, Wes Montgomery, Art Farmer and Benny Golson’s Jazztet, Cedar Walton, Bobby Timmons, Kenny Drew, Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin, Herbie Hancock, and Yusef Lateef. In 1975, he and his brothers formed The Heath Brothers. Tootie Heath is a regular instructor at the Stanford Jazz Workshop and producer and leader of The Whole Drum Truth.
This disc features bassist David Wong and pianist Jeb Patton and is the first disc recorded by Heath Brothers since the untimely death of their brother Percy. Jimmy paid tribute to him with the composition “From a Lonely Bass.”
Another standout JLP release is trombonist Steve Davis’s “Eloquence” disc. The disc features the legendary Hank Jones on piano. Davis, who’s musical pallet ranges from Chick Corea’s Origin, to being a co-leader in jazz supergroup One for All, to playing in The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band, has allowed this leader to shine as a well-rounded musician. This hardworking musician and educator is a dedicated disciple of legends like Curtis Fuller, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, and Jackie McLean. His latest disc Eloquence was been on the top of the charts for the last couple of months to rave reviews.
Steve also plays in other jazz ensembles like One for All featuring Eric Alexander, Jim Rotondi, David Hazeltine, John Webber and Joe Farnsworth. They’ve recorded 13 CD’s and will release a new project sometime next spring. In addition to One for All, he fronts the Outlook Quintet featuring rising stars Mike DiRubbo, David Bryan, Dezron Douglas and Eric McPherson.
Teaching is one of Steve’s passions and has been since he graduated from the The Hartt School’s Jackie McLean Institute at the University of Hartford. Since 1992, Davis joined Mc Lean’s sextet and begin teaching alongside his mentor at both the Hartt School and Artist’s Collective since his death.
Music has been of a reflection of political, pop, and social norms set to all forms of music genres. As music changes with the times so has jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut. His unique and authentic soulful and gospel oriented playing has heads bobbing to packed audiences around the world. Also, he’s not ashamed to bring black culture in the limelight, something that’s been missing in mainstream culture. Cyrus’s latest solo piano disc “Spirt” explores his passion and love of gospel music by playing deep rooted spirituals and hymns. Although he was raised in the church in Baltimore, Maryland, it was the music of his childhood and upbringing that he continues to embrace along with his rich African legacy.
Chestnut started playing piano at nine and was studying classical at an early age. He attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Upon graduation, Cyrus played with the late Betty Carter, Jon Hendricks, Wynton Marsalis, and Terence Blanchard. As a soloist he’s been able bridge both jazz and gospel to the masses.
Of course there’s other artists on the label like saxophonist Sharel Cassity whose disc “Relentless” is getting lots a heavy airplay around the country.
Last week’s showcase at the Blue Note proved jazz music hasn’t left and fans can look forward to the next generation of artists that embrace this rich cultural legacy. John Lee has taken a risk that many in the industry would never do in this post-major label and turbulent economic down spin that’s shaken this country. Where jazz music is considered art and not profitable, Jazz Legacy Productions seems to focus on recording quality music as well as keeping the music out there.
The Revolution Will Be Televised,
The Pace Report