• Harry Skoler - Clarinet
• Ed Saindon - Vibes/Piano
• Matt Marvuglio - Flute
• Barry Smith - Bass
• Bob Tamagni - Drums
LINER NOTES -
The title of this recording project by clarinetist Harry Skoler invites several interpretations. It could reference the tracks “Two Onderful” or “Two as One.” It could speak to the fact that this is a two-part recording, opening with seven pieces performed by jazz quintet, followed by eight more-intimate duos by Harry and longtime band-mate Ed Saindon, who is featured on piano rather than his better-known instrument, the vibes. But mostly, Two Ones is a project that celebrates the simpatico of Harry and Ed, who make very intuitive and personal music together. “It speaks to the combination of our individuality and teamwork as players,” Harry says. “It is a high-wire act. You have to be in sync emotionally and in the phrasing.”
Harry and Ed began working together in 1993 and very quickly discovered the affinity that makes their collaborations so enjoyable. “I think we are coming from the same musical place,” Saindon says.
Two Ones is Harry’s fourth recording as a leader, following Conversations in the Language of Jazz (1995), Reflections on the Art of Swing, a Tribute to Benny Goodman (1996) and A Work of Heart (1999). Three of the four projects have been collaborations with Ed.
Both men are on the faculty at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, and their fine band-mates here also have Berklee faculty connections: bassist Barry Smith is a longtime faculty member; flute player Matt Marvuglio, who was on the Berklee faculty when Harry was a student there in the 1970s, is Dean of the Performance Division; and drummer Bob Tamagni is an associate professor of percussion. All have extensive performing credentials. “They are very sharp players. Their quiet confidence made this project a joy,” Harry says.
At its core, this recording is rooted in emotion, both as inspiration for each composition – and their heart-felt, vibrant and highly improvised delivery. The project had a special spirit. “It was not a matter of making the music happen, but allowing it to emerge from you,” Harry says. The late clarinetist, composer and bandleader Jimmy Giuffre, who was a teacher and mentor while Harry pursued his master's degree at New England Conservatory of Music in the 1980s, called that goal in music-making “stepping into a sea of feeling.”
Saindon wrote nine of the compositions and collaborated with Skoler on the other five. Most are ballads. Both writers say they were inspired by something real that touched them profoundly from everyday life. Nothing here was plucked out of the air – or a book of charts. It is helpful to know those inspirations in order to appreciate where the music is coming from – and where they take it.
Ed wrote the seven quintet tunes. “Leaves of Autumn” enabled him to add a new melody and reharmonize the chord changes to “Autumn Leaves” in order to create a nice mood with impact and emotion. He penned the lovely “Two as One” for his wife, Pam, as an expression of emotion, humanity and life itself. This quintet version, featuring Ed on vibes, is a change from its first appearance on Key Play, his 2005 duo album with pianist Kenny Werner. “Alpine Sunset,” Ed’s first shift to piano on this project, was inspired by a train ride Ed and Pam took through the Alps during a trip to Switzerland last year. Through Harry and Ed’s melodic interplay, you can hear the train climbing in elevation – and the breathtaking beauty of the moment.
“Joyful Sorrow” is performed twice on this CD, here by the quintet and later by the clarinet-piano duo. The title may sound like an oxymoron, but Ed disagrees. “To me, a lot of music is filled with emotion, even conflicting emotion. I tried to capture both sides,” he says. “You might hear it differently at different times, depending on who you are with.” The duo version (track 13) is more reflective and wistful, and reveals more of Harry and Ed’s uncanny and symmetrical unison playing. “Giorgio’s Theme” was written for the father of Marco Pacassoni, one of Ed’s former students who hails from Fano, Italy, a coastal city south of Venice. “I got to know Giorgio when I was doing a tour and some clinics. He and his family treated us royally,” Ed says. The vibes-clarinet combination here conjures a pleasant ride through the Italian countryside.
Ed wrote “Piazzolla” for Astor Piazzolla, whom he first heard when the “New Tango” master recorded with fellow-vibraphonist Gary Burton. He became fascinated with the Argentinean’s sound and musical expression. “We’re reaching for pure emotion and that‘s what Piazzolla was all about,” he says. The final quintet track, “Silent Serenity,” is intentionally somber to touch on the reflective side of human emotions. “I do a lot of writing in minor keys. They tend to have a lot of impact and are more powerful than major key tunes,” Ed says. The tune also became a very nice showcase for Marvuglio’s exquisite flute work. And what a joy to hear clarinet and flute playing in sync.
Harry was inspired to write the first of the session’s duo tunes, “Dad’s Clarinet,” for his father, Louis, who played classical clarinet from 1930 to 1941. He made an even more direct connection by playing it on his father‘s 1929 clarinet, which has a haunting, bittersweet tone. “This enabled me to focus on the bigger picture,” Harry says. “It’s about what this gentle, humble man has lived through – and his influence on my life.”
“Song for Jessy” was inspired by the daughter of close friends. Harry says the girl was upset about something that happened at school one day. He sat down at the piano, played “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and snapped her out of her melancholy. He never forgot the impact that the music had. Ed wrote “Life’s Dreams” because “everyone has dreams and that’s what keeps us going. It applies to anyone’s dreams,” he says. “Two Onederful” was inspired by Amelia, one of Harry’s two daughters. When she was young and recently adopted from China, he says she “didn’t want two of anything. She wanted one in each hand – she called it ‘two ones.’”
The inspiration for “Jenna’s Voice” was simply hearing Jessy’s sister’s voice on the telephone one day. “The child had such a musical voice on the phone,” Harry says. The duo version of “Joyful Sorrow” is followed by “Don’t Say Words,” which is dedicated to Harry’s other daughter, Gianna, who also is adopted from China. Harry says Gianna changed the lyrics to “don’t say words” when singing the lullaby “Mockingbird” (“Hush, little baby, don't say a word. Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird.”)
This splendid session closes with Ed’s tune, “Hope,” which he calls a song of great emotion. “It is very positive and was written to “leave the listener with a nice high,” he says.
It was a treat to hear so much of Saindon’s piano playing on this CD, in addition to the pianistic approach that enriches his four-mallet technique on vibes.
“There is a sense of something profound at work when we play together,” Harry says. “I listen to the tracks and say, ‘These things sound very well rehearsed.’ They weren’t. We’re all soloing all the time, even when one person is stretching out. It’s all about the group sound.” This project could have been called “Emotion” because that’s what it is all about: How emotion and friendship enable like-minded musicians to create something greater, stronger and deeper than even they could imagine.
-Ken Franckling, October 2008
(Veteran freelance jazz journalist and photographer Ken Franckling was United Press International’s jazz columnist for 15 years. He now writes for JazzTimes, Jazziz, HotHouse, allaboutjazz.com and other publications.)
Harry Skoler - Bio
Jazz clarinetist Harry Skoler was born in Syracuse, NY in 1956. Harry is Professor of Woodwinds at Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from Berklee in 1978, and a Master of Music degree from New England Conservatory in 1986, where he studied with legendary jazz great Jimmy Giuffre. His recordings include Conversations in the Language of Jazz, Reflections on the Art of Swing - A Tribute to Benny Goodman, A Work of Heart on Brownstone Recordings and Two Ones on Soliloquy Records.
He has authored articles on jazz education, including a "Pro-Workshop" article in Downbeat magazine, and has been included with a biography and philosophy of artistry in Gianluca Campagnolo's Volume 10 method book for clarinet, which features bios and tips from many of today's prominent clarinetists. In 2005 Harry contributed to a clarinet method book by Vandoren and published by Carl Fischer entitled THE VANDOREN ETUDE & EXERCISE BOOK FOR CLARINET - THE SECRETS OF TEN MASTER CLARINETISTS. In 2007 Harry contributed to a jazz saxophone method book by Vandoren and published by Carl Fischer entitled THE VANDOJAZZ ETUDE AND EXERCISE BOOK FOR SAXOPHONE - THE SECRETS OF TEN MASTER SAXOPHONISTS. He has garnered numerous national and international reviews, including reviews in JazzTimes, Downbeat, and Jazziz among others. Cover features include Strictly Jazz, Jazz Quarterly, Northeast Performer, and Jazz Now magazines - and bio/reviews in AMG's All Music Guide to Jazz book. He has been "charted" for national radio airplay on Gavin Magazine's Jazz Chart, and in April 2000, he charted at #8! on Jazziz magazine's Top 40 "Radioactive" chart. Performances include national jazz clubs and festivals, including the Blue Note in NYC, Scullers and Regattabar in Boston, International Clarinet Association's ClarinetFest and tours in Costa Rica, Japan, Norway and Mexico.
In addition to touring with his group, Harry reaches thousands of young people each year with the educational ensemble "Adventures With Jazz". Harry has been featured on many national radio interviews and on the nationally televised BET program "Jazz Discovery". Endorsements include Buffet Group USA, Vandoren Reeds, Mouthpieces, and Accessories, and Applied Microphone Technology, Inc. He lives in Haverhill, MA with his wife Joanne, and children Daniel, Amelia, and Gianna.
Ed Saindon - Bio
Coming from the “four mallet school,” Ed Saindon has developed and continues to refine a pianistic approach to mallet playing which involves a consistent utilization of all four mallets along with a variety of dampening techniques. Saindon has absorbed and transferred the influences from the piano lineage that stretches from Waller and Tatum up to the present. Originally a drummer, Saindon began playing the vibraphone along with piano while attending Berklee College of Music in Boston from 1972-1976.
As a concert artist, Saindon has traveled throughout the U.S., Europe, Brazil, Mexico and Japan. He has played and or recorded with Ken Peplowski, Warren Vache, Kenny Werner, Mick Goodrick, Fred Hersch, Peter Erskine, Jeff Hamilton, Louie Bellson, Howard Alden, Herb Pomeroy, Dick Johnson, Dave McKenna, Marvin Stamm, Michael Moore and others. Previous recordings include Key Play with pianist Kenny Werner and Depth of Emotion with Dave Liebman on soprano.
In addition to performing, Saindon’s other passion is music education. He is a Professor at Berklee where he has been teaching since 1976. He is also active in the field of music education as a clinician and author. Saindon is a clinician for Yamaha and Vic Firth giving clinics and residencies on vibraphone, marimba, piano, drums, jazz theory and harmony, composition and improvisation. Berklee Press has published his book Berklee Practice Method: Vibraphone and German publisher Advance Music recently issued his new book Exploration in Rhythm, Volume 1, Rhythmic Phrasing in Improvisation.
In addition to writing books, Saindon has authored many articles on music education, jazz theory and improvisation. He is currently the vibraphone and jazz mallet editor for the International Percussive Arts Society’s magazine Percussive Notes. His articles have appeared in many publications including Downbeat, Percussive Notes, and Percussioner International.
"It’s nice when a little charmer like this sneaks up and pulls on your coat. The unusual front line, the casual nature of the tunes, the inspired notion of balancing the full-group tracks with the duo setting ... it all adds up to a minor jewel. If it gets noticed, Skoler should get busy with a follow-up." Jim Macnie, DownBeat
"An educator that has a lot of real world experience but still makes jazz for sitting down checks in with his 4th set as a leader with material that falls to the right of an ECM set but isn’t stuck in an arts gratia artis groove. Light and easy but not lite, the music is expressive while not hitting you over the head. Nice listening date jazz that quietly does its thing in just the right measure throughout." Chris Spector, Editor and Publisher: Midwest Record
"...wonderfully lyrical CD.” Chris Sheridan, Jazz Discographer, UK
"We inserted this CD into our player expecting to hear either Dixie or big band music featuring Harry on clarinet. Harry is spotlighted on center stage but he is playing more inspirational ballads like "Dad's Clarinet" and "Song For Jessy". The music is very pleasant and relaxing especially "Two As One" featuring Ed Saindon (vibes) and Matt Marvuglio (fl). Saindon (p) also shines on "Joyful Sorrow". Barry Smith (b) and Bob Tamagni (d) round out the quintet as they glide through fifteen selections. Ed Saindon composed the music alone or with Skoler." D. Oscar Groomes, O's Place
"You don’t hear too much music with clarinet in the forefront and I always appreciate the smooth, lyrical tones you get from a really good player like Skoler. The production and recording values are beautiful and transparent. The level of technique is so good, you don’t know it’s there." Jeremiah Sutherland, BullFrogMusic
"Outstanding jazz clarinetist Harry Skoler's fourth recording as a leader is a collaboration with artist Ed Saindon (vibraphone and piano). They are featured in duo and quintet settings. Skoler and Saindon teach at Berklee College of Music, and each have authored numerous articles including a Down Beat article authored by the clarinetist. Ed Saindon has recorded with renowned jazz players Kenny Werner and Dave Liebman. Skoler and Saindon have collaborated on numerous recordings. For this CD, Saindon composed nine pieces, and five were co-written. Of particular interest on the recording is Leaves of Autumn, which is harmonically based on the standard Autumn Leaves. The playing is very musical and likeable. The quintet, featuring clarinet, flute, vibraphone and piano, blend to give the music a mood that is special and the duo tracks are filled with emotion." Rudolf Radnai - Editor; Record Reviews
"We reviewed Skoler's superb clarinet work way back in issue 29 ... Ed's vibes create a really mellow atmosphere through all 14 original compositions on this album, with a really strong jazz flavor. The rest of the quintet are featured on the first 7 tracks, then after cut 8, it switches to purely duo action (piano/clarinet) ... my favorite song was 7, "Silent Serenity", which is (actually) far from silent... yes, it's serene & mellow, but full of the vibrant spirit of life & the living thereof... Matt Marvuglio played flute on that track, & it's some of the most soulful wind I've ever heard blown - he literally paints sonic landscapes for your aural pleasure! I'm highly impressed with "Two Ones", & declare it MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazz listeners of all persuasions." Rotcod Zzaj; Improvijazzation Nation
"...(Saindon and Skoler) can finish each other's sentences, anticipate where the conversation is going and get there quickly. But, perhaps more important ... they do not fear the inevitable silences, which allow the sparse arrangements room to breathe, invisibly underlining the quiet serenity of beautifully enunciated phrases almost whispered in the listener's ear. The songs are lovely, lyrical and hopeful. The interplay between the two musicians is a well-understood, intricate dance." J. C. Lockwood, http://beyondthemerrimack.blogspot.com
"The music is sweet, original, superbly performed and fluidly executed. With its flawless technical production values, this "Two Ones" is enthusiastically recommended to the attention of all jazz enthusiasts..." James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief; Library Bookwatch
Review of track 'Piazzolla' - "Part of a sensitive, often poignant collection of ensemble and duo work featuring the all-too-often-ignored clarinet, this number could be the soundtrack for broken dreams. Without resorting to athletic displays of musical calisthenics, Harry Skoler uses his rich timbre to great effect, summoning bittersweet memories of intimate encounters from long ago. “Piazzolla” is more about the veneration than the virtuosity, as the individuals lose themselves in an evocative group improvisation. Following Ed Saindon’s somber piano intro, the ensemble falls into a dusky tango with an intense broodiness suggesting the suppressed passion of tangoists in a clandestine embrace. Frequently the soloists seem to be carrying on a dialogue, but they never trip over each other’s phrasing, demonstrating a disciplined freedom and mutual respect. Both the composition and the polished musicianship on this piece do sufficient justice to the legacy of Astor Piazzolla, Argentine’s innovative bandoneon player and composer. Hold your partner close for this dance." Bill Barnes, jazz.com
"The tunes here are very impressionistic, almost like mini tone poems, reduced down to the minimum instrumentation required. They certainly shun the usual exhortations of much overwrought modern jazz music, and concentrate on melody and poignancy. This is very emotional music and it will probably create mind pictures of a pastoral nature when you listen to it ... it leaves you in a state of the blues that echoes in your head for many hours after." John M. Peters - http://www.the-borderland.co.uk
"Clarinet fans will want to pick up a copy (or two) of Harry Skoler's "Two Ones." The Berklee associate professor and Jimmy Giuffre-protege is again paired with his Berklee colleague, professor, pianist and vibraphonist Ed Saindon on his fourth recording as a leader. On the first half of the recording, these two virtuosos are backed by tasteful bass, drum and flute players connected with the school, while the second half consists of duets. All of the songs are originals penned by either Saindon, or a combination of Skoler and Saindon and veer toward a more traditional approach, yet with a fresh feel. The results are pure magic, with exceptional give and take between two men who are very familiar with each other's styles and willing to complement one another. Saindon is truly wonderful both on piano as well as utilizing his four-mallet pianistic approach on vibes. Skoler meanwhile combines a clear, rich, attractive tone with a romantic melancholic longing. Hard to pick highlights because everything here is so solid, and as good as the quintet work is, it is a compliment that the duet half seems just as strong and enjoyable." Brad Walseth, JazzChicago.net
"The clarinet always has been cursed by players who make it squeak. The skills of ... Harry Skoler keep that from happening ... his playing is so good that isn't a problem. Skoler plays beautiful clarinet that sings through pieces that are in a type of jazz-sonata-form in their construction ... the playing is of such a high quality..." Bob Karlovits, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
“Two Ones” is the return to the recording world of clarinetist Harry Skoler, after more than a decade of silence. Skoler previously released three discs (“Conversations in the Language of Jazz” - 1995, “Reflections on the Art of Swing, A Tribute to Benny Goodman” - 1996, and “A Work of Heart” - 1999) that were very well received by critics as well as by the public. Throughout this time of recording inactivity Skoler has been dedicated ... on the one hand, to education at the renown Berklee College of Music in Boston, and on the other, dedicating himself to his family. Some might say this evidences clarity of values. In his return to the world of recordings, he has done so accompanied by a quintet of good friends that are also wonderful musicians (which need not necessarily go together) among which we must emphasize the great vibraphonist Ed Saindon. All the members of the band are professors at Berklee College of Music. The title of the disc “Two Ones” (close to the title of the track "Two As One"), gives the clue as to where this excellent disc goes. This excellent disc contains two discs in one; the seven first tracks are performed by the quintet, whereas the following eight tracks are duets between Skoler and Saindon, two men who have collaborated together many years and that are known very well. Ed Saindon plays both vibraphone and piano equally well. The title of the recording is a metaphor both on the individuality inherent as well as the teamwork. The fifteen tracks, all original compositions, are beautiful. The track “Alpine Sunset” distinguishes itself with a groove that propels. This disc is an album to enjoy tranquility and peace." Jose Manuel Perez King, www.distritojazz.com
"Harry Skoler has a beautiful clarinet sound, technique to spare and a host of ideas, which make his playing a joy to listen to. His partner in both composition and performance, Ed Saindon, is an equally skilled musician, who plays both piano and vibes with great excellence. There is an obvious rapport between them. They obviously play together regularly and it is from this kind of association that they develop this ability to understand one another, in terms of what comes next on the improvised solos. The playing of flautist Matt Marvuglio, bass player Barry Smith and drummer Bob Tamagni also contributes to the enjoyment on part one of the record; the second part consists of just piano and clarinet. The blend of flute and clarinet on part one is a sound not to be missed: it is just beautiful to hear. For part two, the duo part to the album, the mood changes to something more wistful than the Quintet offering. It is however equally enjoyable and both players perform with great sensitivity and feel towards the music. Harry Skoler's clarinet sound is even more noticeable in this smaller group setting; he really is a master of the instrument in every sense of the word. This is a record to put on your CD player and just let the music wash over you. It is interesting enough to command your constant attention, but relaxed enough to enable you to just sit in comfort, listen and enjoy!" Don Mather, www.musicweb-international.com
"Two Ones - the title of clarinetist Harry Skoler's fourth CD—clearly alludes to the musical rapport between Skoler and vibraphonist/pianist Ed Saindon, in addition to referencing the way the album is divided into quintet and duo recordings. Skoler and Saindon have been working together for more than fifteen years and have developed a deep musical connection during that time. This album is a faculty-friend affair, with all five musicians on this date being faculty members at the Berklee College of Music, and Skoler couldn't have asked for more sympathetic musical colleagues to flesh out his mellow musical concepts here. The first seven tracks feature the quintet and while similar traits are found in all of these pieces, enough little differences help to distinguish many of the performances. The first two quintet tracks, "Leaves of Autumn" and "Two As One," establish the tranquil mood of the album with a warm blend of Skoler's clarinet, Saindon's vibes, and Matt Marvuglio's flute. "Alpine Sunset," an elegant waltz with Saindon on piano, features a bit more energy from everybody involved; both Marvuglio and Skoler deliver the goods on their respective solos. "Giorgio's Theme," the only tune with some shades of Brazil, benefits from drummer Bob Tamagni's grooves and bassist Barry Smith's stability and malleability. "Piazzolla" captures the spirit, mood and swaying vibe that its namesake created in his "New Tango" compositions and features some sensitive piano work from Saindon. "Silent Serenity" shows these musicians to be very flexible as they play with the tempo and demonstrate a keen rhythmic sense... The warm, pleasing sound of "Jenna's Voice" helps to make this a standout track and "Joyful Sorrow" which receives a quintet and a duo reading on the album, is exceptional. While the quintet version opens things up a bit, the duo interpretation distills the melodic essence of the song into a tender and beautiful two minutes and forty seconds of music." Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz
Harry Skoler plays Buffet Clarinets and Vandoren Reeds, Mouthpieces, and Accessories exclusively.