First of all I’d like to thanks you for buying the album. It is a culmination of the first seven years of Friday nights at Smalls jazz club in New York. It is my home club and I couldn’t imagine a more appropriate place to make a live recording with my group.
I met the owner of Smalls, Mitch Borden about 4 months after the club opened in 1994 and he was kind enough to give me my first gig a few weeks later. Every Sunday afternoon I would run the jam session sponsored by the New School for Jazz. I was still a student there at the time.
After a few night changes I eventually got my Friday night spot in late 1995 and have been there ever since. This gig has meant so much to my growth as a musician and improviser. The Friday night audience at Smalls can be vert rowdy and tough. There is no room with them for any half way good music and I complain about them a lot but as I sit here and write this I think they are part of what my group so good.
I was watching a documentary about Miles Davis recently and a musician described a certain night with Miles in Italy: “about three hours after the show was supposed to start Miles strolls in like nothing’s wrong and is taking out his horn as he was walking towards the stage. By this time the Italian audience was screaming angry and on the verge of losing it. Miles walked on that stage and started to play his horn. And within 20 or 30 seconds you could hear a pin drop.”
This story really struck a chord with me. There have been so many nights that I have walked in to Smalls and thought that I would have a lot of trouble connecting with the audience. Because of the cacophony of talking and drinking that I witnessed. Nine times out of ten however my band and I were able to grab their attention, quiet them down, and win them over just with the power of our music. It was nights like these among other things that really kept me focused on becoming a better saxophone player, leader, and improviser.
I met and started playing with my drummer, Daniel Freedman, in 1993 and have loved him as a person and a drummer ever since. I am so grateful that I have found a drummer who is my musical partner and understands what I need him to do while we perform. Daniel is a native New Yorker. He has been playing jazz drums since he was 16 and it shows. I really don’t know what else to say except that if I had my choice of playing with any drummer in the world it would be Daniel.
I started to play with Barak and Jeremy in 2001. Their performances on this album are truly incredible and I look forward to many more years with them. All three of these guys are a huge part of how I write and arrange music for my band. That’s why this is called “The Charles Owens Quartet” rather than “Charles Owens Live at Smalls”. These guys play an important role in my music and they are part of me during the performance.
I truly hope you enjoy the music on this CD. It is my heart and soul.