Sausalito Summer by Court Mast - Released August 2008 by Jazz Vista
Recorded and mixed by Leslie Ann Jones at Skywalker Sound, a Lucasfilm, Ltd. company, Marin County, CA
All songs composed and arranged by Court Mast
© 2008 Court Mast
Cornet/Trumpet: Court Mast
Flute: Tim Wallace
Saxophones: Scott Petersen
Piano: Sam Grobe-Heintz
Guitar: Dave Bell
Bass: Ari Munkres
Drums: Kendrick Freeman
Programming/Keyboards: Court Mast
Strings - Violin: Evan Price, Viola: Emily Onderdonk, Cello: Joe Hebert
Sausalito Summer, the new CD by Sausalito, CA jazz composer and cornetist Court Mast is, as one might suppose, a musical love letter to that colorful, cozy, delightful town snuggled onto the shore of San Francisco Bay just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. And like the town itself, Sausalito Summer is in turns soothing, funky and festive, with a steady stream of sea breeze to clear the mind. The recording is a lyrical, spirited delight, built for comfort but laced, as well, with stirring moments and happy musical surprises. Mast, in fact, lives on a houseboat in Sausalito Harbor. The recording consists entirely of Mast’s original compositions, and you can feel the wind off the water and the sun on your face as you listen to his music.
The captivating joie de vivre and musical excellence of Sausalito Summer was highlighted immediately by the critical response to the CD. Jazz radio reacted quickly and approvingly, as Sausalito Summer, a mere two months after its release, was being featured on over 120 radio stations and online jazz sources across the U.S. Since then, the recording has held its own, and its spot on those play lists, quite nicely.
Reviewers have been equally enthused. Paul Liberatore of the Marin Independent Journal said, “The CD sparkles with waterfront-inspired tracks." And Rotcod Zzaj of IMPROVIJAZZATION Nation wrote, “If you're looking for an album that allows you to kick back and groove, Court's magic cornet/trumpet will do it all for you, no doubt.”
With Sausalito Summer, Mast is stepping up after several years away from the mainstream to enter a fresh new voice into the jazz-pop spectrum. Mast, active and successful on the San Francisco Bay Area jazz and rock scenes throughout the 1970s and into the early 80s, stepped away from the music world in 1983. He is now delving back into his music and has turned out a CD with a deep and textured sound, driven by melody and a jazz sensibility tempered by Mast’s love of rich arrangements and his ear for contemporary styles.
Mast says the major touchstones for his new project are Henry Mancini and Chuck Mangione. Mancini is important for his lush arrangements that are musically sophisticated yet melodically rewarding. Mast favors Mangione for his élan and musicality and as an inspiration that breakout instrumental hits are indeed possible. But Mast’s full range of musical influences is wide and eclectic. As a composer and arranger, Mast says he’s influenced by Claude Debussy, Duke Ellington, the Beatles and Steely Dan. The connection? “These are all composers who are melody based, but with some juice!” Mast says. As a cornetist, he lists Clifford Brown, Thad Jones and Ella Fitzgerald as inspirations, being drawn, he says, to “melodic style and interpretation rather than strict virtuosity.”
Court Mast grew up in Sunnyvale, California, and took up the trumpet in grade school. He went to Fremont High School and upon graduation in 1969 got to travel to Europe with a tour consisting of 120 high school and college musicians. Trumpet great Raphael Mendez was on board as guest artist, and Mast took six weeks of private lessons from the master. Returning to the Bay Area, Mast began performing in big bands around the South Bay and Peninsula and performed with the earliest version of the band that went on to fame as Tower of Power.
While taking performance and composition courses at De Anza College, Mast stayed active in a wide variety of bands, playing rock, jazz, Latin and Mexican music: anything that would keep a young working trumpeter onstage. In 1977, Mast moved up to San Francisco, where, playing under the name Corky Miller, he led 4- and 5-piece jazz groups active on the thriving North Beach music scene and in funky venues like the Hotel Utah.
In 1983, however, disillusioned with the direction that popular music, and jazz in particular, was moving in, Mast stepped away from the music world. “I hit the wall,” he laughs, “and I did what every self-respecting musician should do when they hit the wall. I became a surfer.” But while he was dedicating himself to surfing, Mast got turned on to the art form that would become his vocation for the next 20 years: photography. Over the past two decades plus, Court Mast became first a news photographer, then one of San Francisco’s leading commercial photographers. He’s still at it, through his business, Mast Photography.
But now Court Mast is again inspired to turn to his music, and to the creation of Sausalito Summer. “With these superb players and the incredible recording team at Skywalker Sound, we've really produced a very intimate-sounding record, with a core signature sound,” he says, “I’m excited about the work, and looking forward to sharing my music again.”
Welcome to Sausalito Summer!