Travel does wonders to one’s musical inspiration. While trekking in Central America, the hauntingly long cry of a toucan resonating through the rain forest became the germ for Call of the Toucan. The experience of visiting South Africa and hearing the joyous music from that region created the inspiration for the simple Limpopo. The Latin-tinged Deevee is a nod to the great flutist Dave Valentin, caught while in Los Angeles. During a year-long stay in London, the constant, urban hustle-bustle of that great city gave rise to Wait a Minute. The ambiance of a mild winter sunset breeze shared with friends on a Southern California beach resulted in Laguna Sunday. Everything has its story.
As leader of the New World Jazz Project, Niall’s musical forays led him to South Florida, where he graduated from the University of Miami School of Music, with an emphasis in jazz performance. It was in South Florida where Niall developed an affinity for Latin music. He performed in Central and South America, as well as several long engagements in NYC. Salsa gigs were the normal musical engagement in Miami, and it is in this genre Niall found he could freely improvise, yet maintain a groove the listener can readily relate to: for an improviser, it can be the best of both worlds.
Hand percussion is an integral component of Latin and World music, and its sonic textures are amply utilized by the New World Jazz Project. Brazilian, African, and Caribbean percussion instruments fill most of the tracks on the album. Niall attributes his style of hand percussion to the influences of such percussion greats as Airto Moreira and Dom um Romao.
The giants of jazz music have always been Niall’s strongest musical influences. Tenor saxophone heavyweights John Coltrane, Joe Henderson and Dexter Gordon are his major mentors on that instrument. On alto sax, it was Cannonball Adderley and Sonny Stitt who left huge marks, and on soprano sax, the voice of Wayne Shorter provided beaucoup inspiration. Flute is an important element of Latin music, and flutists Dave Valentin and Hubert Laws are continuing contributors to Niall’s musical palette.
On this album, Niall has surrounded himself with the best of players from Northern California and Nevada with the likes of Kris Landrum and Tristen Selzler on electric and acoustic pianos respectively, along with the brilliant Kyle Rothchild on upright and electric bass. The drum chair was filled by stylist Neil Strocchio and groove meister Eric Finklestein. Reno Philharmonic percussionist Eric Middleton killed on congas and assorted percussion. Enjoy our debut album!