The best jazz is recorded in a completely relaxed environment--- with no time constraints. In this congenial atmosphere, true improvising and the unexpected can take place. That's why most of my favorite records are "Live At The..." and why I am so happy with this offering.
This Sextet has been together for over three years. The Bobs - Balthis, Butta and Jones, were with me on my previous recording, The Allen Houser Sextet Live At The One Step Down (ARS005). George Hyde, who played with me for several years at Bertha's Restaurant in Baltimore, and Paul Hannah, are the new faces. What you will hear is the best of our music selected from over a dozen recording sessions.
Musicians and fans of live jazz have benefited from a parade of recording technology creations. (Up until the invention of the synthesizer, that is.) When the 33 1/3 LP replaced the 78-rpm record, it enabled jazz musicians to stretch out and play as if it were a live, nightclub performance. Kenny Dorham's Una Mas is a good example of this. The compact disc has doubled the playing time of many of the best LP's. Our hope is that you will enjoy these five jazz performances enough to imagine you are hearing the band in person.
Bob Jones recorded our sextet in Bob Balthis' basement. He used a 16 track digital audio workstation. The sextet was recorded in the same room, simultaneously on eight tracks. All the music is a "first take," with no overdubbing of any kind. Although the sound quality is incredible, this is a presentation of real jazz, not an engineer's sleight-of-hand attempt at perfection. It is the work of seasoned musicians in the honest process of improvising and swinging. These recordings capture the spontaneous qualities of musical imagination, which surprise you with a beauty unique to the tradition. To feel joyful and free is the message of jazz. The music that is jazz, regardless of era, has that spirit-groove. Without it, what's the point?
Stolen Moments is probably Oliver Nelson's best-known composition. Stephen David Geller, a writer-film maker, asked me to record this for his independent film, Mother's Little Helpers. I didn't really want to do it, because the original was definitive. But, he insisted. After hearing the recording, I was happy he did.
Dewey Square was written and recorded by Charlie Parker. The great pianist/teacher Barry Harris said, "The music has not progressed beyond Bird. Forget it." I understand what he is saying. But I must add that since Bird, rhythm sections have expanded and enriched their techniques to a point where the possibilities of the music are enhanced exponentially.
The Chess Players Wayne Shorter is, perhaps, the preeminent figure of a handful of post-Monk modern jazz composers. That so many musicians enjoy playing his portfolio is, to my thinking, a worthy measure of his success. The Chess Players has a sophisticated harmonic structure played over a bluesy, hard bop, shuffle rhythm that's fun to play.
Kosovo is my composition dedicated to the victims of the killing fields in the Balkans.
Minor Diversion is also my composition. I play the flugelhorn on this piece. It's a sixteen bar minor blues with a Latin rhythm.
THE ALLEN HOUSER SEXTET
Allen Houser - Trumpet & Flugelhorn
Bob Balthis - Trombone
Bob Butta - Piano
Bob Willis Jones - Drums
George Hyde - Bass
Paul Hannah - Tenor Saxophone