Jeff Rupert – George Garzone
The Ripple isn’t trying to mimic that most classic tenor tandem, Sonny Rollins and Trane on “Tenor Madness.” That iconic piece stands alone. Instead, tenors Jeff Rupert and George Garzone pay tribute to the legendary “Prez,” Lester Young. In fact the title refers to the far-reaching effect that Young had. By the late thirties , he emerged as the most revered improviser since Louis Armstrong. His influence didn’t just reach saxophonists but trombonists, pianists, and others too. Young’s style holds up today, over a century later, as a unique blend of blues, tone, and subtle rhythm.
Interestingly, there are no compositions from Young in this 69 minute, 12 tracks of mostly lyrical tenor playing. There are pieces recorded or composed by some of the many influenced by Young including Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Eddie Harris, Zoot Sims, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, and others – a veritable who’s who of tenor players. Rupert contributed three originals as well. The two tenors are supported by pianist Richard Drexler, bassist Jeremy Allen and drummer Marty Morell. Rupert has performed with Drexler for more than 30 years and with Morell for the past 15. Rupert and Allen have performed and taught together for a decade. Both Rupert and Garzone have glowing long-term resumes and both are esteemed educators.
Rupert provides this in his liners, “George, a master saxophonist and improviser, turned to me during the session and said, “Remember kid, play you, and I’ll play me.” He continues, “Working on this music gave me the sense of having two painters collaborating on one canvas. I think of Monet, Picasso, or Dali, though I’m not sure who George evokes, perhaps all of the above plus Pollock. This is evident on the track, “Stardust.” When George enters, it hints at Coltrane’s Interstellar Space ,and I follow with an interpretation of the melody. I love this combination.”
They begin with “Bahia” recorded by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd. As their horns weave in and out fluidly for a smooth, infectious melody. “GO-GO” is an original loosely based on a tune form Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and the chord sequences from “The Girl from Ipanema.” They nod to Joe Henderson on “Without a Song” and Eddie Harris on “The Shadow of Your Smile.” “The Red Door” if from Gerry Mulligan and Zoot Sims while “Red Top” is a rendition of Dexter Gordon’s recorded on The Sophisticated Giant. “Hoboken,” an original, borrows in chord structure from Monk’s “Hackensack,” oft associated with Coltrane, Getz, and Oscar Peterson.
“Beauty Becomes Her” is another original, co-written with vocalist Veronica Swift who penned the lyrics for the version that appeared on Rupert’s Let’s Sail Away. “Detour Ahead” owes to vocalists as well, the ballad having been performed most notably by Sarah Vaughan. Wayne Shorter’s “Lester Left Town” may have conspicuous if it were absent from this set. Finally, the closer “Alone together” is an impromptu duet that came together at the end of the session – a damn fine hour-plus blowing session that hits all the right spots.
- Jim Hynes