Pandemonium Music announces the release of its initial CD offering, Father Time Remembered. The artists on this CD are Lea (rhymes with Lee) Ball and the Pandemonium All-Stars. The material recorded includes 2 standards and 8 original tunes by Lea Ball. The Father Time in the title of the CD refers to the late, great Leroy Vinnegar, who did so much for the Portland jazz scene in his last years, when he called Portland his home.
So, who are the Pandemonium All-Stars?
Lea Ball has been on and off the local jazz scene for nearly a quarter century. He has worked with the likes of Ernie Watts (before his career took off), and more recently with the Walter Bridges big band, Border Patrol, and various other jazz and commercial groups. He has also played bass in several symphony and opera orchestras over the course of his career. Mentors have included Ron Carter and, more recently, Tommy Thompson and Larry Zgonc. As composer of 8 of the 10 tunes on the CD, he draws on his studies of composition and arranging with the likes of Roland Jordan, Herb Pomeroy and Normand Lockwood. Lea has written original material and arrangements for several bands in the course of his musical career. This is his first commercial release as a leader.
Derek Sims is native to the Portland area, and studied trumpet at the University of Michigan. He's made the rounds of cruise ships and several local groups, having been a leader and a sideman of note. He also has been known to frequent several local jam sessions.
Sam Burton is also native to the Portland area. He studied at Berklee College of Music in the late eighties. He, too, has been on and off the scene over the past several years. Lately, he's made several appearances at the Tugboat Brewery and other local venues, some of them with Lea Ball. Other than one of his own, this CD is Sam's first released appearance on a jazz album. It is grossly overdue.
Phil Goldberg developed a reputation as a fine jazz pianist working in the major clubs in Los Angeles. Musicians Phil has worked with include Jay Migliori, Jim Crutcher, Bill Perkins, Chiz Harris, Nick Martines, Pete Christlieb, Dick Berk, Frank DeLaRosa, Ed Bennett and Gene Cherico. Since moving to Portland, he has frequently worked as a solo performer and with a large number of local musicians, often with Ron Steen.
Ron Steen has been everywhere. In the '70s, he toured with Joe Henderson and other major leaders and recording artists. Later on, he made a couple of cameo appearances in the movie Animal House, as the drummer in the band that appeared at the toga party and in the roadhouse scenes. He's been a leader of his own trios and other groups since the early '80s, and he has appeared on a significant number of the CDs released by other local artists. His offer to play on this CD had a lot to do with the project's going ahead, as did his encouragement of Lea's writing by giving it prominence at the various jam sessions he runs in the local area.
And, what are the Pandemonium All-Stars playing on this CD?
Fifth Door Down is an original, at a medium-up tempo.
Father Time is Lea's tribute to Leroy Vinnegar, taken at a walking swing tempo, on the changes of Charlie Parker's Confirmation. Lea takes the head, and waits for the horns and piano to finish their solos before expounding on the subject of him whose time was so perfect you could set your watch by it. Stylistically, it is reminiscent of the material on Leroy's first album, Leroy Walks.
The Mole and Dr. Miller is another adaptation of standard materials, in this case Jeepers Creepers. It salutes Dr. Larry Miller, a friend and former co-worker of Lea's who used to moonlight from his day job by teaching evening Chemistry courses at a local university, for twice the money his day job paid.
Tanzanite Eyes is a medium waltz and is dedicated to a friend whose eyes sometimes resemble the purplish blue hues given off by this gemstone.
How About You? is an old standard bu Burton Layne that's been around for quite a number of years. It seems to have gotten short shrift in recent times, probably because of the number of other tunes that have edged it out. Here, we take it medium-up.
Finger Paint is reminiscent of the child within us, who is given these gooey substances to play with, with his bare hands. For those of you who are listening, it bears a strong harmonic and formal resemblance to Cole Porter's All of You. It alternates between Latin and medium swing.
The One That Got Away is an original ballad, and features Sam Burton, in a quartet format (no trumpet).
Blioux (rhymes with Blue) is a Parker blues, taken at a medium-up swing pace.
Can This Be Love? is the other standard on the CD. It is one of 3 tunes to have survived from the score of Kay Swift's 1930 musical, Fine and Dandy. It is also the least well-known of the 3 (the other 2 are the title song and Can't We Be Friends?). Kay Swift was Lea's cousin, and she had a close professional and personal relationship with George Gershwin in the 20s and early 30s, before he moved from New York to Hollywood.
Yet Another Rhythm Tune in B Flat is exactly what it says it is. It's an up-tempo romp on the commonly-abridged changes of George Gershwin's standard.