George Voland | Remember Beauty: George Voland and Friends

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Jazz: Mainstream Jazz Jazz: Traditional Jazz Combo Moods: Type: Lyrical
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Remember Beauty: George Voland and Friends

by George Voland

Swinging and lyrical jazz, played before a live audience and "live" in the studio, the tunes are great standards made even more lovely and exciting by the joyful, sensitive interplay of great players.
Genre: Jazz: Mainstream Jazz
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1. Straight, No Chaser
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7:47 album only
2. Tenderly
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6:13 album only
3. Tangerine
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8:36 album only
4. Out of Nowhere
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5:57 album only
5. Thou Swell
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4:04 album only
6. Don't Get Around Much Anymore
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5:01 album only
7. Remember
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6:01 album only
8. Darn That Dream
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8:36 album only
9. Blues in the Closet
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7:22 album only
10. You've Changed
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5:07 album only
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
George Voland’s Story
1."Riff Version"
(Note:2."Full Score" Version follows this shorter version)

I play valve trombone with happiness and heart because I was given great gifts during my growing up years. Those gifts included: a musical family; the ability to hear roots and changes even before I knew what those things were called; and a wise junior high band director who switched me from cornet to baritone horn.

Without lessons, but with radio and records as my teachers, I played jazz in the privacy and safety of my room. I taught myself piano. I didn’t play out while in high school except during my senior year, thanks to an enterprising New Rochelle High School classmate of mine, Keith McClelland, who formed a band to play arrangements he’d taken off records. Alas, I was too shy to solo.

When I got to Middlebury College, another enterprising person, Randy McNamara, asked me to play in his college dance band, which also became the pit orchestra for the Broadway musicals put on by the community theater. As a musician at a college with no music school, I got to play everything from Bach to Stravinsky to Duke Ellington. My jazz improvising couldn’t be stopped by my shyness any longer: As a member of Randy’s band, I HAD to play, and my peers liked what I did and told me so.

Vermont jazz players started hiring me to play gigs while I was still in college. They were good musicians and they taught me tunes and the intricacies of improvisation on the band stand. I never had written music for the small combo gigs, but I surely had to have ears when leaders called tunes and a keys. I listened like a fiend and I learned from wonderful players with who lived in a universe of jazz surrounded by cows in rural Vermont.

For more than 40 years, that universe has been peopled by players who have inspired me. For many of those years, music was part-time. I had a great family to help support, and I taught high school English for 33 years because I loved it and teaching did allow me to pay the bills as well. I directed the high school jazz ensemble for many years and, thanks to the example of those who taught me jazz, I have been able to pass on the gift of jazz to many younger players and they’ve been my teachers as well.

I currently consider myself a fulltime jazz musician who happens also to be an innkeeper, a writer, a college teacher, and giver of lessons. With my first album, “Remember Beauty: George Voland and Friends,” the gift of my friend Allen Johnson, Jr., I’m poised to play as much jazz as comes my way or as much as I can bring my way.

“Life is short,” we often lament. But with so many good tunes to play and good people to play them with and for, it’s not unusual for me to know in my heart of hearts that life isn’t short at all. For at any moment on the bandstand, I can find myself in that space where music, played with joy, from the heart, brings me—and listeners, I hope—to a place that cannot be spoken of, but can certainly be felt as eternally alive and beautiful.


George Voland’s Story: Full Score Version

I Find My Real Voice
I met music thanks especially to my dad, a weekend “club date” musician who played cornet and trumpet in the New York and Connecticut areas from the early 1930’s to the 1980’s. I’m his namesake and his musical offspring as well.

But I can never hear or play “Sophisticated Lady” without thinking also of my mom, Margaret, who played it so gently on the piano and who was a talented lyricist and mother. Both my sisters are gifted with music—Diana as a pianist who could play symphonic selections by ear before she was six, and Elissa, a wonderful acoustic guitarist.

Speaking of Diana’s early display of talent, I remember “Turkey in the Straw,” a version improvised for a young Diana and me by Graham Forbes, later a pianist for Frank Sinatra, who honored Di’s request during a jam session at the New Rochelle, NY apartment of trumpeter George Stacy. The next day, Diana was playing it by ear, including the Tatum-esque left hand and right hand flourishes.

I owe my chosen instrumental “voice” to my band director at Isaac Young Junior High School (also Bob Mintzer’s director, I found out a few years ago when Bob sat in with a group I was playing with at The Tyler Place, a family resort in Vermont).

Director Harry Richman took me aside at the end of my first year in the junior high band. “George,” he told me, “we have lots of trumpet players.” He was gently implying, “We don’t really need a player like you in that section.” He might have added explicitly, “Plus, you don’t sound that good and you don’t practice, so we don’t need you at all!” Instead, he handed me a large case that contained a baritone horn. “Practice this and learn how to play it by the fall.” I took the horn home, scoured it clean inside and out, cradled it as if I’d always played baritone, put the mouthpiece to my lips, and blew.

The note that came out had depth and sounded beautiful, not like the pinched treble blats that had often shot out of my cornet. I honestly knew right then that I’d found my real voice, though I wouldn’t have expressed it that way as a junior high kid: I simply loved the low sound of that horn! Thus began a lifelong love of playing that started in the summer of 1957 and continues today, thanks to Mr. Richman.

Hearing the Changes
There were no school-sponsored jazz bands in New Rochelle. Instead, my father inadvertently gave me the gift of “the changes” when he taught himself to play accordion He never played the bass note buttons under the left hand, but only played chords in his right hand—the keyboard side of the accordion—a la Art Van Dam

I know now that he was voicing close-harmony chords with the melody on top. At age 7 or 8, though, I didn’t know he wasn’t playing the roots of chords. However, for some wonderful reason, I could always hear the un-played roots! Before I fell asleep in my attic room on nights when dad was practicing in the next room, I’d sing the roots to his good chords for songs such as There’s a Small Hotel, I Could Write a Book, Mountain Greenery, Small World, Isn’t It?, She is Beautiful, and many others whose names I learned because I’d get out of bed and go in and ask Dad, “What was the name of that last one?”

After I fell asleep, the music continued, and maybe the changes continued to print themselves on my brain, because those chords stuck with me, and the roots I added intuitively became the foundation on which to base my feel for improvisation even before I knew what that was.

Lessons with Miles, Chet, Stan, Oscar, JJ, Bob, Gerry … and Jack Sterling

Jack Sterling? Yes.

During the 1950’s, Jack Sterling was an early morning radio host on WCBS New York. The transmitter tower was on an island in Long Island Sound, just south of New Rochelle, and Sterling’s show came in clearly on the crystal radio I’d built as a Cub Scout project.

Every morning, I’d wake up by six, put on the earphones, and listen to the live studio band on Sterling’s show. Sterling played drums, and his steady band included, among others, Mary Osborne and her “All-Girl Guitar.” Guests included Dick Hyman, Barry Galbraith, Tyree Glenn, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, and many others who were likely on their way home after playing gigs in the New York clubs. That live jazz, first thing in the morning, taught me style and tunes and I’m grateful that I grew up at a time when Jack Sterling’s show and radio in general offered such a rich musical education.

And thank goodness for records and the players who became my teachers. It’s not hyperbole to talk about wearing out the records that I played along with. They included Miles Davis’ Porgy and Bess and Miles Ahead; Chet Baker and Strings; a Gerry Mulligan Quartet album with Bob Brookmeyer on valve trombone; Bob Brookmeyer and Friends, with friends Herbie Hancock, Gary Burton, Ron Carter, and Stan Getz; an Oscar Peterson/Ray Brown trio recording done live in Chicago; a JJ Johnson album on RCA that included “Lament”; the Atomic Basie album of Neil Hefti arrangements, with Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis on tenor. … In old dumps around the world, archeologists of the future may unearth the strata of the 1950s that include my spent records and those of so many other musicians. “Why did people back then make some records without sound and grooves?” they’ll ask—and they’ll come to this archived Web site for the answer!

Music at Middlebury College Opens Ears, Doors
At Middlebury College from 1962-66, I was an English major but a musician at heart. Because the college had no music school, musicians such as I—now playing sousaphone and valve trombone in addition to the baritone—had many playing opportunities. I played and directed the pit bands for musicals, directed the college band, played in a busy college dance band, the Vermont State Symphony, brass groups, odd chamber groups, and in dozens of informal jazz groupings. I’ll never forget the beauty of Hindemith’s Noblissima Visione during my first rehearsal on a Sunday afternoon. There I was in the trombone section with my unorthodox valve trombone, nestled right in the midst of all those musical colors and Hindemith’s angular, lovely harmony and melodies.

Though I lacked formal training in jazz, I had been intuitively able to hear chord changes and roots from an early age. By my sophomore year in college, area musicians hired me for gigs around northern Vermont, and gave him me an on-the-job education in great tunes and improvisation. I had to listen like a fiend because we had no music. The leader would call a tune and a key, and away we’d go. I learned style and nuance from the older players who were patient and encouraging—and good!

But I’d also been learning consistently from Miles Davis, Chet Baker, J.J. Johnson, Bob Brookmeyer, Oscar Peterson, Gerry Mulligan, and Stan Getz since high school. I truly wore out my records, playing along over and over with these great musicians and the rich context in which they improvised. Their swinging, lyrical playing and my developing jazz voice were the “constants” around which the rest of my life revolved.

Doors Continue to Open
My career as an English teacher in Vermont allowed for hundreds of weekend and summer gigs, plus it gave me a solid base from with to share the gift of jazz with younger players. I have loved “giving back” to younger musicians, as director of the South Burlington (VT) High School Jazz Ensemble, interim director of the University of Vermont Jazz Ensemble, as a private teacher/coach to individuals and groups, and now—following my retirement from public school teaching in 1999—as a combo director for middle and high school players in the FlynnArts program, and as a staff member at Interplay Jazz in Woodstock, and Jazz Camp in Colchester, VT. I’m a member of the IAJE, an adjudicator for jazz festivals, a clinician, and a member of the team that auditions high school players for the Vermont All State Jazz Ensemble.

A charter member of Vermont’s premier big band, the Vermont Jazz Ensemble, I’ve played the jazz trombone chair since 1976. I play regularly with Pine Street Jazz, a popular sextet that has also has a “stable” of great jazz singers who perform as “Pine Street Jazz and the Singers’ Circle.” As a freelance player, I play on-call with groups around the state, you can hear me as a sideman on many albums, and now on my own premiere CD, “Remember Beauty: George Voland and Friends.”

Jazz is such a gift, to players and listeners. Played well and from the heart—by musicians who really listen to one another and who carry on a musical dialogue—jazz creates instant community on the bandstand. The audience gets pulled in. They’re part of it—and the “it” is a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

Played this way, jazz can be beautiful and absolutely “real.” At this time in history, we could do with as much beauty and reality as we can get!
George Voland’s Story: “Riff” Version
I play valve trombone with happiness and heart because I was given great gifts during my growing up years. Those gifts included: a musical family; the ability to hear roots and changes even before I knew what those things were called; and a wise junior high band director who switched me from cornet to baritone horn.

Without lessons, but with radio and records as my teachers, I played jazz in the privacy and safety of my room. I taught myself piano. I didn’t play out while in high school except during my senior year, thanks to an enterprising New Rochelle High School classmate of mine, Keith McClelland, who formed a band to play arrangements he’d taken off records. Alas, I was too shy to solo.

When I got to Middlebury College, another enterprising person, Randy McNamara, asked me to play in his college dance band, which also became the pit orchestra for the Broadway musicals put on by the community theater. As a musician at a college with no music school, I got to play everything from Bach to Stravinsky to Duke Ellington. My jazz improvising couldn’t be stopped by my shyness any longer: As a member of Randy’s band, I HAD to play, and my peers liked what I did and told me so.

Vermont jazz players started hiring me to play gigs while I was still in college. They were good musicians and they taught me tunes and the intricacies of improvisation on the band stand. I never had written music for the small combo gigs, but I surely had to have ears when leaders called tunes and a keys. I listened like a fiend and I learned from wonderful players with who lived in a universe of jazz surrounded by cows in rural Vermont.

For more than 40 years, that universe has been peopled by players who have inspired me. For many of those years, music was part-time. I had a great family to help support, and I taught high school English for 33 years because I loved it and teaching did allow me to pay the bills as well. I directed the high school jazz ensemble for many years and, thanks to the example of those who taught me jazz, I have been able to pass on the gift of jazz to many younger players and they’ve been my teachers as well.

I currently consider myself a fulltime jazz musician who happens also to be an innkeeper, a writer, a college teacher, and giver of lessons. With my first album, “Remember Beauty: George Voland and Friends,” the gift of my friend Allen Johnson, Jr., I’m poised to play as much jazz as comes my way or as much as I can bring my way.

“Life is short,” we often lament. But with so many good tunes to play and good people to play them with and for, it’s not unusual for me to know in my heart of hearts that life isn’t short at all. For at any moment on the bandstand, I can find myself in that space where music, played with joy, from the heart, brings me—and listeners, I hope—to a place that cannot be spoken of, but can certainly be felt as eternally alive and beautiful.


George Voland’s Story: Full Score Version

I Find My Real Voice
I met music thanks especially to my dad, a weekend “club date” musician who played cornet and trumpet in the New York and Connecticut areas from the early 1930’s to the 1980’s. I’m his namesake and his musical offspring as well.

But I can never hear or play “Sophisticated Lady” without thinking also of my mom, Margaret, who played it so gently on the piano and who was a talented lyricist and mother. Both my sisters are gifted with music—Diana as a pianist who could play symphonic selections by ear before she was six, and Elissa, a wonderful acoustic guitarist.

Speaking of Diana’s early display of talent, I remember “Turkey in the Straw,” a version improvised for a young Diana and me by Graham Forbes, later a pianist for Frank Sinatra, who honored Di’s request during a jam session at the New Rochelle, NY apartment of trumpeter George Stacy. The next day, Diana was playing it by ear, including the Tatum-esque left hand and right hand flourishes.

I owe my chosen instrumental “voice” to my band director at Isaac Young Junior High School (also Bob Mintzer’s director, I found out a few years ago when Bob sat in with a group I was playing with at The Tyler Place, a family resort in Vermont).

Director Harry Richman took me aside at the end of my first year in the junior high band. “George,” he told me, “we have lots of trumpet players.” He was gently implying, “We don’t really need a player like you in that section.” He might have added explicitly, “Plus, you don’t sound that good and you don’t practice, so we don’t need you at all!” Instead, he handed me a large case that contained a baritone horn. “Practice this and learn how to play it by the fall.” I took the horn home, scoured it clean inside and out, cradled it as if I’d always played baritone, put the mouthpiece to my lips, and blew.

The note that came out had depth and sounded beautiful, not like the pinched treble blats that had often shot out of my cornet. I honestly knew right then that I’d found my real voice, though I wouldn’t have expressed it that way as a junior high kid: I simply loved the low sound of that horn! Thus began a lifelong love of playing that started in the summer of 1957 and continues today, thanks to Mr. Richman.

Hearing the Changes
There were no school-sponsored jazz bands in New Rochelle. Instead, my father inadvertently gave me the gift of “the changes” when he taught himself to play accordion He never played the bass note buttons under the left hand, but only played chords in his right hand—the keyboard side of the accordion—a la Art Van Dam

I know now that he was voicing close-harmony chords with the melody on top. At age 7 or 8, though, I didn’t know he wasn’t playing the roots of chords. However, for some wonderful reason, I could always hear the un-played roots! Before I fell asleep in my attic room on nights when dad was practicing in the next room, I’d sing the roots to his good chords for songs such as There’s a Small Hotel, I Could Write a Book, Mountain Greenery, Small World, Isn’t It?, She is Beautiful, and many others whose names I learned because I’d get out of bed and go in and ask Dad, “What was the name of that last one?”

After I fell asleep, the music continued, and maybe the changes continued to print themselves on my brain, because those chords stuck with me, and the roots I added intuitively became the foundation on which to base my feel for improvisation even before I knew what that was.

Lessons with Miles, Chet, Stan, Oscar, JJ, Bob, Gerry … and Jack Sterling

Jack Sterling? Yes.

During the 1950’s, Jack Sterling was an early morning radio host on WCBS New York. The transmitter tower was on an island in Long Island Sound, just south of New Rochelle, and Sterling’s show came in clearly on the crystal radio I’d built as a Cub Scout project.

Every morning, I’d wake up by six, put on the earphones, and listen to the live studio band on Sterling’s show. Sterling played drums, and his steady band included, among others, Mary Osborne and her “All-Girl Guitar.” Guests included Dick Hyman, Barry Galbraith, Tyree Glenn, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, and many others who were likely on their way home after playing gigs in the New York clubs. That live jazz, first thing in the morning, taught me style and tunes and I’m grateful that I grew up at a time when Jack Sterling’s show and radio in general offered such a rich musical education.

And thank goodness for records and the players who became my teachers. It’s not hyperbole to talk about wearing out the records that I played along with. They included Miles Davis’ Porgy and Bess and Miles Ahead; Chet Baker and Strings; a Gerry Mulligan Quartet album with Bob Brookmeyer on valve trombone; Bob Brookmeyer and Friends, with friends Herbie Hancock, Gary Burton, Ron Carter, and Stan Getz; an Oscar Peterson/Ray Brown trio recording done live in Chicago; a JJ Johnson album on RCA that included “Lament”; the Atomic Basie album of Neil Hefti arrangements, with Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis on tenor. … In old dumps around the world, archeologists of the future may unearth the strata of the 1950s that include my spent records and those of so many other musicians. “Why did people back then make some records without sound and grooves?” they’ll ask—and they’ll come to this archived Web site for the answer!

Music at Middlebury College Opens Ears, Doors
At Middlebury College from 1962-66, I was an English major but a musician at heart. Because the college had no music school, musicians such as I—now playing sousaphone and valve trombone in addition to the baritone—had many playing opportunities. I played and directed the pit bands for musicals, directed the college band, played in a busy college dance band, the Vermont State Symphony, brass groups, odd chamber groups, and in dozens of informal jazz groupings. I’ll never forget the beauty of Hindemith’s Noblissima Visione during my first rehearsal on a Sunday afternoon. There I was in the trombone section with my unorthodox valve trombone, nestled right in the midst of all those musical colors and Hindemith’s angular, lovely harmony and melodies.

Though I lacked formal training in jazz, I had been intuitively able to hear chord changes and roots from an early age. By my sophomore year in college, area musicians hired me for gigs around northern Vermont, and gave him me an on-the-job education in great tunes and improvisation. I had to listen like a fiend because we had no music. The leader would call a tune and a key, and away we’d go. I learned style and nuance from the older players who were patient and encouraging—and good!

But I’d also been learning consistently from Miles Davis, Chet Baker, J.J. Johnson, Bob Brookmeyer, Oscar Peterson, Gerry Mulligan, and Stan Getz since high school. I truly wore out my records, playing along over and over with these great musicians and the rich context in which they improvised. Their swinging, lyrical playing and my developing jazz voice were the “constants” around which the rest of my life revolved.

Doors Continue to Open
My career as an English teacher in Vermont allowed for hundreds of weekend and summer gigs, plus it gave me a solid base from with to share the gift of jazz with younger players. I have loved “giving back” to younger musicians, as director of the South Burlington (VT) High School Jazz Ensemble, interim director of the University of Vermont Jazz Ensemble, as a private teacher/coach to individuals and groups, and now—following my retirement from public school teaching in 1999—as a combo director for middle and high school players in the FlynnArts program, and as a staff member at Interplay Jazz in Woodstock, and Jazz Camp in Colchester, VT. I’m a member of the IAJE, an adjudicator for jazz festivals, a clinician, and a member of the team that auditions high school players for the Vermont All State Jazz Ensemble.

A charter member of Vermont’s premier big band, the Vermont Jazz Ensemble, I’ve played the jazz trombone chair since 1976. I play regularly with Pine Street Jazz, a popular sextet that has also has a “stable” of great jazz singers who perform as “Pine Street Jazz and the Singers’ Circle.” As a freelance player, I play on-call with groups around the state, you can hear me as a sideman on many albums, and now on my own premiere CD, “Remember Beauty: George Voland and Friends.”

Jazz is such a gift, to players and listeners. Played well and from the heart—by musicians who really listen to one another and who carry on a musical dialogue—jazz creates instant community on the bandstand. The audience gets pulled in. They’re part of it—and the “it” is a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

Played this way, jazz can be beautiful and absolutely “real.” At this time in history, we could do with as much beauty and reality as we can get!


Reviews


to write a review

G.H. Jazz Improv Magazine Feb '09


George Voland and Friend’s Remember Beauty captures a joyful hour of live music played to a small but enthusiastic audience. These players are all about "quality, not quantity" and they know that it’s not always what you say, but how you say it that is important. True to the name of the band and the title of the disc, it seems like each player’s highest priority is to share a beautiful moment with good friends who all happen to be great musicians. You can almost hear smiles emanating from the instruments—there is a lot of love on this recording.

 The year might as well be 1956, but the sincerity and spontaneity of the band within an older vocabulary and style of playing makes it timeless. These players complement each other perfectly and their selfless communal approach makes for plenty of those magic moments that you’ll want to listen to over and over.

 The opening track is Thelonious Monk’s “Straight No Chaser,” and the players get off to a soaring start on this classic quirky blues. Played at a moderatelyfast tempo with flute, guitar and valve trombone taking the head in unison, all voices are established from the get go. John Pisano’s comping is so precise, sensitive and effortless and the way he places his chords in the pocket and the economy of his playing makes everything he does significant. Voland takes off with a very playful solo, and is soon joined by flutist Ali Ryerson, as they engage in some call and response.

Voland has an effortless command of rhythm. He’s one of those players that sounds so loose, yet is in exact control of what he is doing, and how he is relating to the beat. Hi phrasing and ability to keep moving, as he spins out new ideas is uncanny. He is also quite adventurous, often making borderline humorous effects with a plunger or breathing techniques. His approach is much like that of a trumpet player, and after hearing this gorgeous album, I wonder why there aren’t that many valve trombonists out there—it is very expressive instrument.

 Flutist Ali Ryerson fits in perfectly. She swings hard and seems to jump on any opportunity to respond to what her band mates are doing. Not a note on this album is arbitrary. Presence of mind and attentive listening are this band’s M.O.

 A very distinct combination in the recipe that makes this band’s sound is the articulate and percussive quality of Jeff Johnson’s bass and John Pisano’s guitar. Johnson plays each note with character, and his short but deeply swinging solos summon random wails of pleasure from the enthusiastic audience.

 Singer Jeanne Pisano offers her talents to “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.” She enters the band like an instrumentalist, as Voland immediately brings her into the conversation, catapulting her into a very adventurous scat solo in her highest register.

 The album features some great standards that one doesn’t get to hear so often anymore, such as “Tangerine,” “Out of Nowhere,” and “Darn that Dream.” The band also offers a variety of tempos, giving the disc a nice arch, while keeping the listeners on their toes.

 Perhaps the most beautiful tune in the set is “You’ve Changed” which is played as a duet with Pisano. Voland pours his heart into this one, but there is no affectation in his playing. It is not over sentimental yet it’s incredibly vulnerable, making for a deeply moving effort. Pisano follows Voland with solo guitar at its best.

This recording is the real deal. It’s the type of album that I’d lend to someone who asked me what jazz was all about.

George Voland and Friends

Remember Beauty
Absolute pure jazz - the group and the music was tight and the sound was smooth. It was pure enjoyment - we love it! We will be listening to it often on our upcoming cross-country trip. Jazz lovers from Nebraska.

TPA

Top Drawer
Listening to this album is like settling into a leather chair with a glass of port on a brisk night. These splendid musicians exude a loving familiarity of their art that translates into comfort and enjoyment for the listener. My 3 year-old son often asks for "Voland" when we drive in the car, and doesn't make a peep while the music plays. Is there any stronger endorsement?

G.F.

Great Stuff
A wonderful selection of masterfully performed tunes. George Voland somehow combines the technical virtuosity and confidence of a seasoned veteran who knows his material with the passion, enthusiasm and creativity of a musician discovering jazz for the first time. This may be George Voland's first album, but here's hoping it won't be the last.

CMV


When you hear this CD it is obvious that you are listening to a group of musicians who really love to play jazz--and it sounds great! I have given it as a gift and everyone has enjoyed it. So will you!

AJBrisson

Fabulous, rockin' Jazz
I just love the feel and groove of this CD- it makes me want to dance around and shake it. Buy it, listen to it, love it!