I have a couple of early memories of first hearing jazz as a young teenager. One was seeing the Bill Evans Trio perform on a Grammy Awards television broadcast (I think). I was mesmerized by the drummer whose playing was so unlike anything that I had ever seen or heard. At the time I was listening to Grand Funk Railroad and Black Sabbath, and I didn’t know that the drums could be played differently. Another memory is the first time my father let me play an album from his jazz collection. I chose AN ELECTRIFYING EVENING WITH DIZZY GILLESPIE assuming that it was an electric rock band. I was hooked from that time on. My father took me to my first “jazz” concert. I saw the Glenn Miller Orchestra lead by clarinetist Buddy DeFranco. Besides the standard Miller arrangements, they were playing a few modern things that I loved. Decades later I discovered that the drummer was Danny D’Imperio who I saw with Maynard Ferguson later and loved. And the singular event that changed the course of my life was seeing the Stan Kenton Orchestra with Peter Erskine on drums. I was sixteen and Peter was eighteen and he was killing. I decided to be a jazz musician that night.
I first met Gary Smulyan when I was a student at the Crane School of Music at the State University College at Potsdam, NY around 1976. Gary had attended the 1974-75 school year - the year before I started.
I was told by one professor that Gary was too good for the school and that was the reason he left. Legend had it that he would walk up the path to the music building each day playing Charlie Parker solos on his alto. When I met him in ‘76 he was back at Potsdam visiting his friends. He participated in a jam session at the school and I was floored that someone so young could play like that. I didn’t play with him that day but have wanted to ever since. Thirty-five years later I finally got the chance. Since that time, Gary switched to the baritone saxophone when he went with the Woody Herman band and is now arguably the best player on that instrument in the world. It is an honor to have him on this album.
Coming off the success of our first album, we are presenting Five and One less than a year from the release of the self-titled Michael Benedict & BOPITUDE CD. My objective is to present Hard-Bop jazz in its pure form without a repertory approach to the music. Over the years, I have been in several bands and orchestras where it was required that the music be played exactly in its original style. I do see value in doing that but it is not what I want to do as a leader. My intent is simply to play music that I love with musicians who I love to play with. I want to move the past to the present in hopes that it will affect the future of this music. There is no shortage of wonderful musical talent creating new forms, songs, harmony, improvisation, textures and rhythms in jazz. My alternate approach is to simply go back to go forward.
There are three tunes here not officially in the Hard-Bop tradition. Train Samba was written in the 60s by Gary McFarland for J.J Johnson. Another McFarland composition, Last Rites for the Promised Land, was written as part of a suite from his America the Beautiful album. I previously recorded this song with a vocalist under the title, I Wish That I Were Young Again. It is not uncommon for composers to use one song for different purposes. As Quiet as it’s Kept is a Bobby Watson tune with a great groove and forward motion that I wanted to include. An Oscar for Oscar, Compulsion, Infra-Rae and Eternal Triangle are all Hard Bop classics. Enigma is a beautiful ballad by Johnson that matches Last Rites in its melodic beauty and intensity. Arranged specifically for this date, Bruce Barth brought in brand new arrangements for Nat Adderley’s Work Song and Thad Jones’ Three and One.
I would like to that the following people making this album possible.
Gary Smulyan-Baritone Saxophone
Brian Patneaude-Tenor Saxophone
Ace Parkhurst-Recording Engineer
Ray Rettig-Owner, Cotton Hill Studios
Margherita Petti King-General Manager, Cotton Hill Studios
Alek Speck-CD Design and Layout
Michael Benedict endorses SilverFox drumsticks and plays a
Grover Percussion G3 Deluxe Snare Drum