Jazz Mayhem | Jazz Mayhem

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Morgan Powell's website Jazz Mayhem's MySpace page Jeff Helgesen's MySpace page

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United States - Illinois

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Jazz: Bebop Jazz: Post-Bop Moods: Type: Instrumental
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Jazz Mayhem

by Jazz Mayhem

Jazz septet, original four-horn arrangements featuring inventive post-bop improvisation.
Genre: Jazz: Bebop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Black Nile
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5:44 album only
2. Beatrice
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7:42 album only
3. This Is For Albert
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6:14 album only
4. Pensativa
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8:14 album only
5. Compensation
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8:56 album only
6. So Near, So Far
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7:09 album only
7. Lady Day
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5:05 album only
8. Short Story
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5:30 album only


Album Notes
The debut recording Jazz Mayhem features energetic to sublime original arrangements of classic post-bop compositions featuring a four-horn front line and rhythm section.

Personnel of Jazz Mayhem includes Jeff Helgesen (leader, trumpet/flugelhorn), Thomas "Shab" Wirtel (trumpet, flugelhorn, arranger), Chip McNeill (tenor saxophone, arranger), Morgan Powell (trombone), Tom Paynter (piano, arranger), Paul Musser (bass, arranger), and Gary Peyton (drums).


Selections on the CD include new arrangements of classic jazz compositions by Wayne Shorter, Sam Rivers, Kenny Dorham, Clare Fischer, Kenny Werner, and others. The arrangements, all by current members of the band, not only sparkle in their own right, but also serve as framework for inventive solos from all the members of the band.

Wayne Shorter's “Black Nile,” arranged by Jeff Helgesen, features solo work by Powell (trombone), McNeill (tenor), Helgesen (trumpet), and Musser (bass). Paynter's creative arrangement of Sam Rivers' “Beatrice” features Powell (trombone), Musser (bass), and Paynter (keyboard), as well as a challenging ensemble section for the entire horn section.

Next up is Wirtel's arrangement of Wayne Shorter's tribute for Bud Powell, “This Is For Albert.” Featured on this track are Helgesen (trumpet), Wirtel (trumpet), and McNeill (tenor saxophone). Wirtel's adaptation of the Freddie Hubbard arrangement of Clare Fischer's “Pensativa” follows, and features Helgesen (flugelhorn), Wirtel (flugelhorn), and Paynter (keyboard).

Kenny Werner's composition, “Compensation,” is next, deftly arranged by McNeill. Solo work on these challenging chord changes are McNeill (tenor saxophone), Helgesen (flugelhorn), and Paynter (keyboard).

Three of Wirtel's arrangements cap off the CD. “So Near, So Far”, made famous by Miles Davis, features Helgesen (trumpet), Wirtel (trumpet), and McNeill (tenor saxophone). Wayne Shorter's “Lady Day” serves as a feature vehicle for McNeill (tenor saxophone) and Paynter (keyboard). Finally, Kenny Dorham's composition “Short Story” features Helgesen (trumpet), Powell (trombone), Paynter (keyboard), and Peyton (drums).


Jeff Helgesen (leader, trumpet/flugelhorn), is a freelance musician based in Champaign, Illinois, who toured and recorded with the Ray Charles Orchestra from 1987-1990. He maintains an active performing schedule in central Illinois and leads several jazz ensembles in addition to Jazz Mayhem.

Thomas "Shab" Wirtel (trumpet, flugelhorn, arranger), an alumnus of the Stan Kenton Orchestra, has arranged for and recorded with several big bands, including the Dallas Jazz Orchestra, the Jazz Members Big Band of Chicago, and the big bands of the North Texas State University and the University of Illinois (amongst others). Currently based in Urbana, Illinois, he maintains an active teaching, arranging, and conducting schedule.

Chip McNeill (tenor saxophone, arranger) is associate professor and chair of jazz at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Professor McNeill is the musical director and jazz tenor saxophonist for Grammy award-winning recording artist Arturo Sandoval, and also has worked closely with legendary jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson. In addition to recording with Sandoval and Ferguson, McNeill has recorded with such musicians as Nat Adderley, David Liebman, Duffy Jackson, Ira Sullivan, The Woody Herman Orchestra, Ted Shumate and Larry Willis.

Morgan Powell (trombone) is an award-winning composer and jazz trombonist whose works are performed internationally. A member of the North Texas State University O'Clock Jazz Band in the late 1950s, Powell's primary compositional interests are in the areas of instrumental and vocal music; he explores the rich and complex components of improvisation and the spirit and elements of jazz, together with "New Music" compositional concepts, techniques and notation.

Tom Paynter (piano, arranger), received his Ph.D. in composition from the University of Chicago, and is a prolific composer and arranger, currently based in Urbana, Illinois.

Paul Musser (bass), now based at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, received his DMA in Jazz Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Gary Peyton (drums) is a research chemist based in Champaign, Illinois. Peyton has performed with many jazz groups and is a product of the North Texas State University One O'Clock Jazz Band where he played together with Wirtel and Powell in the early 1960's.


to write a review

Claude Gnocchi

Very Cool Jazz!
Great vibe! Band is tight and I enjoyed the trumpet and sax improvisations...do wish they had used an acoustic grand piano though....had they done that, it would definitely been like the "Blue Note" recordings!

Roberto DeLatromba

Super Album
Solid, lots of energy, great production and great performances all around by very capable players. If you like jazz, you'll like this album.

Jay Miglia

The jazz tri-fecta!
These days, so-called professional jazz musicians are habitually propping up their reputations with CDs of disposable music. Jazz Mayhem is not in this category! They are a septet of pros that play jazz the way it should be played, with a variable mixture of intellect and soul. No posturing or BS-ing on this side, just solid straight ahead playing. To me this CD represents the jazz tri-fecta: Great playing on great arrangements of great tunes. If you dig Blue Notes from the 1960's (and you should), this is one for you!

Mark Prather

This is my kind of music!
Jazz Mayhem is a totally enjoyable collection of post-bop selections with great arrangements, crisply performed, and with great soloists. The continuity of this cd (with no dogs or tedious, self-indulgent meanderings) has made me return to it again and again. I hope this group records again soon.