The concept of Fresh Squeezed was to take a number of chord changes to existing tunes and create new melodies and treatments. Almost all of the selections on this recording were created using this formula. All of the tunes are original compositions except for Horace Silver’s “Split Kick.” An additional goal was to create memorable melodies that employed “meaningful simplicity,” a philosophy referred to by Silver in the liner notes to one of his albums as his own compositional approach.
This CD is also a collaborative effort of musical brotherhood in multiple configurations with the regular members of my quartet, David Clark, Dwight Dozier, and Doug Elmore being joined or replaced by an all-star list of jazz musicians including saxophonists, Antonio Hart and Mark Gross; trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis; trumpeter Ansyn Banks; bassists Rufus Reid, Tyrone Wheeler, and David Pulphus; drummers Winard Harper and Robert Griffin; and guitarist Jeff Sherman.
The CD opens with Horace Silver’s take on the chord changes to the 1942 Mack Gordon and Harry Warren standard, “There Will Never Be Another You.” “Split Kick” was originally featured on the 1954 Jazz Messengers A Night at Birdland recording. Here the original arrangement is recreated featuring an alto sax battle between Dave and Antonio along with the rhythm section that includes Tyrone Wheeler and Robert Griffin.
“Sweet Cakes and Honey,” the next tune on the recording is a 12-bar blues that reflects the emotional connection with the soul food that is synonymous many African American neighborhoods. Throughout the history of jazz in urban areas, food has long been an inspiration for not only tune titles, but also the earthy feel of the arrangements, especially during the 1950s when soul jazz was made popular by groups such as the Cannonball Adderley Quintet. Robert and Tyrone help to set up an infectious groove that makes this tune as soulful as the food delicacy after which it is named, while Dave and Antonio again strut their stuff on their altos.
Next up is an original that was inspired by Coltrane’s minor blues classic, “Equinox.” “Summer Solstice” uses the same minor blues chord sequence and is a showcase for horns Delfeayo, Mark and Dave, along with Winard and David Pulphus joining me in the rhythm section. The three-horn front line allows for a harmonized second statement of the melody. Despite the relative simplicity of both the form and the melody, the title, “Summer Solstice,” references a significant astronomical event that happens only once a year. Delfeayo, Mark, and David Pulphus take us on a stratospheric journey as the featured soloists here.
The title track, “Fresh Squeezed” is the next tune on the CD. Featuring Clark on alto saxophone, Jeff Sherman on guitar, Rufus Reid on bass and Dwight on drums, this tune is based on the chord changes to Duke Ellington’s “Just Squeeze Me.” This is the tune that inspired the concept of the entire recording. The title also plays upon the idea of creating something tasty and new from fresh squeezed oranges or lemons. There is nothing more savory than fresh squeezed orange juice or lemonade to start off your day or to quench your thirst on a hot summer day. The laid-back feel of this easy-going swing tune is great for kicking back and relaxing. The classic rendition of this tune recalls the days of vintage jazz recordings from the 1950s. If you like straight ahead swing, this tune will tickle your toes for tapping.
The fifth tune on the CD is a beautiful ballad entitled “Indigo Dreams.” Owing its creation to the chords of Marvin Fisher and Jack Segal’s American songbook classic, “When Sunny Gets Blue,” Dreams is performed by the members of the quartet. Dave’s sensitive saxophone rendering is a perfect compliment for the new melody that I wrote to these familiar changes. This tune attempts to capture the wistful, melancholy feelings of dreams not quite fulfilled. This selection is dedicated to the memory of another of our musical brothers, who played many gigs with us, Matt Davidson. He was taken from us far too soon.
Although not based exactly on the same chord sequence, “All Souled Out” is inspired by Sonny Rollins’ “Doxy,” which is actually a contrafact on Bob Carleton’s, “Ja-Da.” The 16-measure form, the use of stop-time, and the hard-edged rhythm section groove recalls the hard bop era of the 1950s and 60s. The title and the tune pay tribute to the soulful nature of urban jazz from this time period. Dwight, Rufus, and Jeff fill out the rhythm section, and the whole band gets a chance to show their solo chops.
“Walnut Street Stroll” is a tribute to the street that served for many years as the entertainment district in Louisville before urban renewal in the 1960s and the renaming of the street to honor boxing icon, Muhammad Ali. In its heyday Walnut Street between 6th and 15th streets was home to many great jazz clubs, numerous black businesses, and a thriving society. One of the premier clubs was the famed Top Hat at 13th and Walnut where Ella Fitzgerald, Cannonball and Nat Adderley, Don Menza, Sarah Vaughn, Coleman Hawkins and other greats performed. The harmonic basis of this tune is Bobby Timmon’s signature hard bop classic, “Moanin’.” The laid-back, but highly energized rhythm feel allows for a very soulful, bluesy approach where Dave and Antonio are again featured on saxophone along with Tyrone and Robert in the rhythm section.
“Bittersweet Dawn” is one of the tunes on the CD that is not based on previously used changes. It is the most pensive selection as it reflects the times when you wake up to start a new day, and you realize that due to circumstances beyond your control, it is going to be a less than great day. In other words, it is one of those days that has news that is both bad and good, bitter and sweet. It may be due to any number of reasons, but the idea I wanted to portray in this piece is that often music provides the only solace in such a situation. Dave presents a very emotional melodic statement in his own unique way. Even though I penned the melody, it comes alive in Dave’s hands, which is the way it has been throughout almost twenty years of our musical collaborations. Likewise, Dwight and Doug add their typical very sensitive treatments on drums and bass respectively.
Ansyn Banks joins the quartet for the next selection, “The Verdict Is In.” Based on the chords to the Sid Robin and Charlie Shaver 1938 tune “Undecided,” this catchy, riff-like tune will get your toes tapping. The AABA form is typical of many of the standards from the Great American Songbook. The “A” section melody of this tune utilizes the same compositional concept of manipulating a simple, riff-like melody over different chords as the original. The modulated “B” section takes off from the same melodic idea. Dave and Ansyn are the featured soloists here adding a tinge of the blues to their dynamic solos.
“No Love So True” is a different twist on the changes to Victor Young’s classic “Beautiful Love.” The title speaks to the ability of a true love to transcend barriers. The original tune was introduced as a waltz by the Wayne King Orchestra in 1931. Many jazz artists have played the original tune as a ballad or as a swing tune. This flexibility inspired me to take a different direction with the tune I created. The musical styles of Latin and South America have always interested me. So it is no accident that “No Love So True” exemplifies the passion and soul of a musical style that originated in Brazil. Set to a slow bossa nova groove, Dave’s alto stylings and Jeff’s amplified acoustic guitar add a sultry feel to this beautiful, sexy tune.
The final selection on the CD is another original that utilizes a classic AABA form with the A sections based on 12-bar blues. Commonly known as blues with a bridge, the twist on “Fat Tuesday” is the use of a New Orleans street groove in the rhythm section. Most historians agree that New Orleans was the genesis of the jazz tradition in America, and this tune pays tribute to the good time atmosphere associated with the city’s Mardi Gras tradition. Once again the use of the three-horn front line of Dave, Mark, and Delfeayo allows for lots of opportunity for harmonizing the melody and providing riff backgrounds for the solos. All the horns get solo space as well as Winard on drums. Recording this tune in the studio was like having a Mardi Gras party of our own.
This project would not have been possible without the generosity of the members of my quartet. Dave, Dwight, and Doug provide not only the unselfish gift of their talent, but also their opinions on tunes, style, and arrangements. Of course, I am also indebted to them for their indulgence of my original tunes and their willingness to play them and bring my vision from the page to live sound. Their commitment is one of the reasons that our musical collaborations extend over the course of almost twenty years. Likewise, I must thank the other musical brothers who contributed to the final product that you hear. I was honored to work with such talented artists and most grateful that they agreed to work on this project. Antonio, Delfeayo, Rufus, Tyrone, Mark, David, Jeff, Ansyn, Robert, and Winard made this project much more than I ever envisioned.