The Noah Peterson Quartet - "Live at Biddy McGraw's"
It is no wonder that many of the truly classic jazz albums are recordings of live performances. The very nature of Jazz is based upon the improvisational interplay of the performers. The magical moment when a single rim shot or a tasty sax solo sets a fire in the players and the ensemble becomes one mind and heart. The players become like fingers on a hand; the group itself becomes an instrument for an intangible but very real muse. From Armstrong to Coltrane, from Brubeck to Gillespie, many of the greats of Jazz have found their most seminal and historical work to be recorded live club dates.
The Noah Peterson Quartet, appearing before what sounds like a small but appreciative audience in as unlikely a spot as a Pacific Northwest Irish bar, Portland's Biddy McGraw's; has created a truly classic, truly exciting Jazz album.
A strong and talented group of young players, relatively unknown outside of their local bailiwick, Peterson on sax; Jay Stapleton, guitar; Dennis Caiazza, bass; and Edwin Coleman III (E 3), drums; are a tight, fearless unit. They seem to understand that unlike in Rock music, egos are best left off the bandstand. They give themselves to the music, bringing the best out of each other and their material.
Like most great leaders, Peterson has a style all his own, sweet and tender one passage, wicked and fiery another. He clearly has listened to the players that have gone before, yet he escapes the trap of mimicking an earlier sound as he forges his own. The playing of the group's superb rhythm section, Caiazza on bass and E3 on drums are especially tasty confections. Stapleton reminds this listener of a young George Benson or vintage Wes Montgomery. His touch is skilled and his ear is sharp as he lays down marvelous support for the soloists, and shines with a deep brilliance in his own solo excursions.
Peterson leads his group through delightfully innovative renditions of classics such as "Take the A Train," "Watermelon Man," and "Junebug," The group brings a funky soulful feeling to the Rhythm and Blues groove of Eugene McDaniel's "Feel Like Making Love;" the song feels like a future fixture on jazz radio programming for years to come.
"So What" the Miles Davis standard is a touchstone for understanding the essence of this group. All members play fun, light hearted solos passing the musical baton while never losing the ensemble feel or the forward and upbeat direction.
Horace Silver's "Song for My Father" both opens and closes the CD. Recorded on separate engagements, the group uses the tune to showcase their versatile nature as they bring radically different styles to the work. The interplay of sax and guitar is slinky and playfully smooth on the first, using the melody as a starting point for eastern modal and bolero explorations. On the selection closing the CD the tune has a more open straight ahead groove, with the sax & guitar in a friendly competition for your attention as they embrace the melody, nursing the nuance and sweetness out of the tune itself rather than using it as a vehicle of exploration.
Bottom line, this is a very good record that any fan of Jazz from post-fusion newbie to pre-bebop die hard will enjoy and should add to their collection. The songs are classic, the group talented and deserving of attention; the performances are fun, light, funky and deep. How they managed to make a record this good outside of the New York and Los Angeles Jazz scenes is a wonder. Who knows maybe this is the first in a series, and one day 'Live at Biddy McGraw's' will mean as much on a record as the 'Live at the Bluenote,' and 'Live at the Village Vanguard,' announcement does now. It certainly holds true for this one.
The Noah Peterson Quartet – Live at Biddy McGraw’s
*Song for My Father – H. Silver (8:51)
June Bug - T. Turrentine (7:19)
So What – M. Davis (6:04)
Feel Like Makin’ Love – E. McDaniels (6:54)
*Take the A Train – B. Strayhorn/D. Ellington (6:27)
But Beautiful – J. Van Heusen (6:58)
Watermelon Man – H. Hancock (9:15)
Song for My Father – H. Silver (7:10)
Noah Peterson – sax
Jay Stapleton – guitar
Dennis Caiazza - bass
Edwin Coleman III (E3) – drums
I would like to dedicate this album to my father, Grover Peterson, for his unflagging support, generous heart, words of caution, raging passion and unconditional love.
Liner notes: I wanted to capture something a little different kind of sound for this album. I wanted it raw, real, live and with that feeling that can only come from trying moving an audience. This is “The Boys” live, at Biddy McGraw’s. Biddy’s has been a musical institution in Portland for years. Biddy’s is traditionally where we cut loose – play whatever we want, get as silly as we like (check out Ed playing his stool on Song for My Father) make mistakes, try out new tunes, have a ton of fun, occasionally switch instruments and is the only Eastside club we’ve been playing for the past year.
Jay Stapleton – my right hand man. You’ve opened my eyes, ears and heart to a deeper level of jazz. We’ve come a long way. I couldn’t have asked for a better band-mate.
I would like to express my appreciation to the following:
God – of all the things you made, I think I like music best.
Edwin Coleman III – were it not for a rainy night in Eugene and your funky bunch (Lazoo) I don’t know if I ever would have had the courage to step out on my own.
Dennis Caiazza – unconscious competence and the immoveable groove. Your overwhelming presence and playing. Yeah baby.
Jay Stapleton – thanks for coming along on all my adventures. You are already missed.
Ian, Josh, Noah and the staff of Biddy McGraw’s – thank you for years of support of my music and letting us do our thing in your house. Larry & Sal at Monteaux’s Public House – thank you for having us so much and truly making us a part of the Monteaux’s family, I always look forward to your gig. Kinn Edwards at Big River – my oldest and most loyal supporter. Thank you for the work, food, conversation and great people. We love you. Steve & Ken of Bon Appetite for INTEL – thank you guys for so much work. Please keep it coming, I’ve got new stuff just for you! Bill Traeger – a true patron of jazz, the pleasure is always ours and your generosity and graciousness are appreciated. Jeffrey Dawkins – my friend and mentor. Your wisdom and light continually guide my way. My family for their support and criticism. My subs – there’s too many to list, the Portland jazz community is fantastic and I’m honored, thrilled and surprised to be a part of it. Thank you all for your hard work – I’ll be calling again real soon! Rick Maier – we’re a good team baby! My own personal “Blues Brothers” Rob Noe & Brian Chevalier, I love playing with you guys. Amor Aggari for his creative contributions to my interests. Marina Aragaki – your support in every way. Putting up with late nights, cancelled plans, rehearsals, doing it “my way”, the smell of cigarettes and scotch, 4 A.M. love notes and snacks, coming to so many gigs, your insight, your time, your smile, your patience & forgiveness. My love is yours. My fans – it warms my heart to see you at my shows. I do what I do for you. This CD is for you. Miles Ahead for teaching me how to be a band leader. Beth Anderson for broadcasting my music all over Santa Barbara. To Ecaroh Music, Inc & Horace Silver – thank you for a beautiful tune, I hope you like it what we did with it. Thank you Hancock Music. Thank you to our lovely dancers that evening and everyone who was at the gig! For anyone I forgot to mention and all of those who’ve been a part of my musical experience – thank you. And to those who enjoy this album, thank you for supporting live music!
*Recorded live at Biddy McGraw’s on Sept 11th , 2003
All other songs recorded live at Biddy McGraw’s on Oct 9th, 2003
Remote recording, engineer & mixing:
Aloha Court Studio
Executive Producer: Noah Peterson
Assistant Producer: Rick Maier
Graphic Artist: Elin McLain
For fan, booking and management inquires – please contact me via my website: