SCCD 31748 Rich Perry “Time Was”
Tenor saxophonist Rich Perry began his recording career for this label in 1998 with
“To Start Again” (SCCD 31331). Since then his prolific outputs through the years have captured
“ …… With his full but soft-edged tone, subtle articulation and impeccable use of dynamics, Perry imbues each of the nine standards in the program with intense feeling …” (David Franklin of JazzTimes on “East Of The Sun …
“… Perry's most recent recording as a leader is e*motion and features a quartet—pianist Danko, bassist Anderson and drummer Jeff Hirshfield—that has played together for almost 15 years! The openness and shared mission to make great music ensures that the nine tracks are all first-rate performances…” (Francis Lo Kee, AAJ on “Emotion”
At a relatively early age – though playing professionally since the mid '70s—tenor saxophonist Rich Perry is already prolifically recorded. He rarely composes (maybe a half dozen tunes spread out over twice as many CDs released as a leader), preferring to stay with the tried-and-true modus operandi of the accomplished jazz improviser: interpreting standards and hits from the jazz canon. He has a long musical partnership with pianist Harold Danko, including a couple of piano/sax duet projects and even a CD of Eric Dolphy compositions. Put this together with the fact that he is a sought-after sideman and long-time member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and you begin to see the portrait of a productive, sincere jazz artist.
On Jam Session Vol. 24 we hear Perry team up with other artists from the label but, perhaps most interestingly, the under-heard (in recent years) tenor sax virtuoso, Dave Schnitter. The standards agreed upon include a gorgeous ballad medley: "Skylark" (featuring altoist Jon Gordon), "You're My Everything" (a Perry feature) and "'Round Midnight" (with Schnitter in the spotlight). It's particularly intriguing to hear the different tenor approaches on these ballads, from Perry's silky smooth tone and agile lines to Schnitter's equal dexterity with colorful, low-register honks. Another interesting thing is the inclusion of two Coltrane tunes (both originally from Blue Train): "Lazy Bird" – an up-tempo 32-bar form with great solos by everyone including drummer Joe Farnsworth and "Locomotion" (incorrectly attributed to Monk, perhaps thinking of his "Locomotive"), another up-tempo 32-bar blues with a bridge in which the rhythm section (pianist Michael Weiss, bassist Jay Anderson and Farnsworth) push the three saxophonists into some very exciting exchanges.
Perry's most recent recording as a leader is e*motion and features a quartet—pianist Danko, bassist Anderson and drummer Jeff Hirshfield—that has played together for almost 15 years! The openness and shared mission to make great music ensures that the nine tracks are all first-rate performances. Some highlights include a touching version of Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood," a sexy, swinging rendition of "What's New," a Latin/rock groove applied to Bird's "Dewey Square" and a reading of "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" that seems to be informed by the aesthetic of '60s Paul Bley or '70s Keith Jarrett. On "Out of Nowhere" and "There Will Never Be Another You" Perry stretches out, reminiscent of some of the greatest jazz saxophonists and then pays respect to Thad Jones (after all, it was the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra before it was the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra) by turning in deep, moving versions of two of his compositions: "The Summery" (a rendering of "The Summary" from Thad's 1972 "Suite for Pops") and "A Child is Born," with enthralling solos by both Perry and Danko. This CD is as good as it gets.
Francis Lo Kee AAJ on Jam 24 & E-Motion
For over 30 years, saxophonist Rich Perry has been a stalwart of the NY jazz scene, captivating audiences with his fluid phrasing and gorgeous sound while playing with Chet Baker, Lee Konitz and more recently as a featured soloist with Maria Schneider and on more than a dozen records of his own. With these two new Steeplechase releases, Perry once again dazzles with his facility and impeccable taste and further asserts himself as one of the most gifted saxophonists of his generation.
The leader's languid saxophone begins At The Kitano 1 with an impromptu flourish before wistfully stating the melody to "In Your Own Sweet Way over crisp piano and a light pulse from Jeff Hirshfield's brushed snare. Perry is patient with his improvisation, letting his ideas bloom while steadily gaining urgency and momentum over a simmering groove. With a subtlety of approach only a seasoned veteran could maintain, the saxophonist's lines build in a graceful arc to a culmination rife with glistening runs and bell-like altissimo before the baton is passed to Harold Danko's pristine piano.
Unlike most instrumentalists of his generation, Perry hasn't amassed a catalogue of original compositions, or distinguished himself on a wide array of instruments. Instead, the soft-spoken sax man has taken the hard road, cultivating a distinctive, lovely sound on the tenor saxophone and proving that a quartet of talented musicians playing well-worn standards can still come up with renditions startling in their freshness and artistic relevance. "I Thought About You is strikingly beautiful, starting with a mournful solo saxophone statement that pours smoothly from the speakers, before the delicately propulsive bass of Jay Anderson and the static wash of Hirshfield's brushed snare and cymbals join it.
The album closes with a couple of 'swingers' that find the telepathic quartet quickening its pace and raising the collective energy level. Perry and Danko think as one on "I'll Remember April , the former weaving a tapestry of intricate lines to which the latter adds vibrant color and contrapuntal intrigue. Hirshfield also plays a vital role, adding just the right amount of rhythmic color and propulsion, pushing each soloist to breathtaking heights.
In the jazz tradition, the jam session played and continues to play a vital role in the musical community. In that spirit, Steeplechase, a label built on tradition, has come up with a jam session series, pairing veteran players with up-and-comers as a way of spreading the word about musicians on the label. Volume 19 is a saxophone summit, which finds seasoned pros Rich Perry and Rick Margitza sharing the spotlight with 21-year-old saxophonist Joshua Douglas Smith and an allstar rhythm section comprised of pianist Andy LaVerne, bassist Steve LaSpina and drummer Billy Drummond.
The triumvirate of reeds plays pared-down arrangements of standard jazz fare and, in true jam session style, bookend the proceedings with open blowing on the blues. Perry solos first on "Tenor Madness , taking his time to develop separate graceful ideas into a coherent whole and is followed by an exuberant Smith and Margitza. The youngster in particular seems especially inspired, laying down long, articulated phrases that seem to veer abstractly before being reined in and contextualized.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the outing is a ballad medley that falls in the middle of the session and allows each saxophonist to make his own personal statement. Each performance is unique, starting with Smith's old school, lyrical rendition of "The Nearness Of You , all the way to Perry's sublime reading of "Nancy With The Laughing Face , arguably the album's high point.
Matthew Miller AAJ Kitano 1 & Jam 19
Rich Perry is that rarest of tenor saxophonists—a complete musician with an understanding of space and timing, a palpable sense of color and humor and absolutely no need to showboat or compromise. Whether he's a featured soloist in a big band or leading a quartet date (as heard here), he makes jazz that's adventurous and highly listenable with a smart and sympathetic band playing standards not frequently performed and in new ways of playing in the tradition.
Listen, for example, to the approach to Ray Noble's "The Touch of Your Lips . Through an almost rubato statement of the theme and then into some elaborate improvisation, Perry plays both the tune and its changes in his soloing, giving it a different and new life. It's almost impressionistic—the melody is more hinted at and around, than played right out.
Perry takes on music by Jimmy Van Heusen, Harold Arlen and Harry Ruby from the world of popular song and tackles some intriguing and rarely essayed jazz tunes —from Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes to Thad Jones' "Yours and Mine and the very rare "Falling Love by Victor Feldman. He has also chosen wisely in his bandmates, seasoned veterans who don't sound as if they played every tune a million times before. Listen to what this great group does with "My Shining Hour —it's up-tempo and engaging because we have to listen to find what the leader and the company he keeps do with the melody. All the tunes are played as if they were new and never improvised on before and that makes for the best kind of jazz.
Donald Elfman AAJ East of ….
You better have something to say if you’re a saxophonist and you intend to present yourself as a solo voice with just the backing of bass and drums. In the history of the music very few have carried this off successfully, one exception being Sonny Rollins. In recent times, Joe Lovano and Branford Marsalis have given it a try and Rich Perry made the trio scene in 1994 with his SteepleChase set Beautiful Love . Taking another stab at this modest grouping, Doxy pits this tenor man with master bassist George Mraz and drummer extraordinaire Billy Hart.
If you’re not familiar with Rich Perry, then you’ve been missing out on a real talent who has spent the past decade working incognito with pianist Harold Danko’s quartet and recording for SteepleChase. The set of standards chosen for inclusion here are nothing out of the ordinary, yet they really only function as a starting point for the trio’s musical explorations anyway. Perry embraces the horn with a rich and full-bodied approach that keeps things engaging over the course of this hour set. He’s got some serious chops but chooses to go for the heart. Maybe that’s why he continues to be a shining star of the SteepleChase roster and Doxy gets the stamp of excellence without any reservations.
C. Andrew Hovan AAJ Doxy
Too long taken for granted, tenor saxophonist Rich Perry often serves as the faceless sideman, a past contributor to the music of Tom Harrell, Chet Baker, Jack McDuff, Billy Hart, and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. For very close to a decade now, he's also been the lead voice of pianist Harold Danko's quartet, a group that likewise deserves more critical and popular acclaim than it has garnered. If it wasn't for Perry's select bunch of SteepleChase sides we'd barely hear anything from him, and yet we've really never heard much of those due to those small label distribution woes. That is until now.
Actually recorded in the fall of 1997, Perry's So In Love is part of a recent set of SteepleChase releases making their way to the United States for the first time. Before getting too much into details, let it be said that the saxophonist has got himself a surefire winner with this one and the story behind its gestation is worth telling. Basically, Perry was taking a break from the Danko quartet and decided to put together a new grouping for his upcoming session. He's done this for past records, but this ensemble was unique in being a bit more contemporary in stature. Pianist Renee Rosnes and drummer Billy Drummond (who also happens to be Rosnes' husband), along with bassist Peter Washington, combine to create a formidable rhythm section that locks in tight with Perry and holds on.
The opening "Eiderdown" contains many of the prime elements that reoccur throughout the record, including Rosnes' liquid touch and abounding imagination, not to mention Drummond's interactive discourse with each soloist. Perry is a melodic and methodical soloist who seems to be more influenced by players like Warne Marsh or Hank Mobley than John Coltrane or Sonny Rollins. It's not characteristic of his style to engage in overblowing or other histrionics, yet Drummond and Rosnes seem to bring out his more boisterous side here, particularly on the title track.
There's a serene quality to some of the slower pieces that finds Rich and Rosnes in their element. A nice twist on "Moon and Sand" is provided through the use of a bossa beat and Ron Carter's "Little Waltz" gets a heartfelt treatment apropos to its original intent. It just goes to show what can happen when you break out of the routine to hang out with some new friends.
C. Andrew Hovan AAJ So In Love
1. Get Out Of Town (Cole Porter)
2. Time Was (Miguel Prado)
3. Lonely Town (Leonard Bernstein)
4. Rouge (John Lewis)
5. Summer Night (Harry Warren)
6. Goodbye (Gordon Jenkins)
7. Segment (Charlie Parker)