The auto-translate results are, though hilarious, impossible to understand. Our friend Ansel, though, has just dispatched a roughly sketched translation. Thanks, Ansel!
A relaxed piano trio, swingin' and super feel-good - The Jazz Protagonists, "Blizz Blazz". Why did I decide to buy this, again... It might have been something Mr. Terajima-related, I don't really remember, but what I do know is that I felt it was probably coming with me when I looked at the cover. The bassist in the rear center's expression was quite pleasant; that, and the cover layout was simplistic, in a cool way! You could maybe say that it makes you feel the sound, or at the very least, it was different from those pathetic covers from those lame labels that are like, "Hey, whaddya say we put a naked lady on the front?"
Listening to it, it was original and solid, not to mention the atmosphere conveyed by the performance was very relaxed; melodic and impressive, and also proper, seems like that's the type he is, the pianist Barry Brake, he does a surprisingly good job.
The album's drummer, Kuper, clearly seems to have different tastes than the pianist, Brake: Mr. Brake is more classical, with a singing melody, and brings you to a swingy, thrilling climax point. Mr. Kuper possesses a more present-day feeling; in track 8 he presents a funky, fun feeling, while in track 9 he brings out the rhythm right away, then seems to ad-lib it freely with spontaneous patterns, almost as though the song was assembled by them on the fly, rather than being written. This track seemed to be the odd one out. In Mr. Brake's songs, the slightly dark-feeling, soothing poetry in track 4, the theme, and the earthy track 5 which was both improvisational and zestful, all really shine.
We got together with our new photographer, the dynamic Julia Novikova, to take a round of pictures. She was simply a delight to work with, utterly professional, with a sparkling personality and friendly demeanor that immediately made us comfortable. She also understands how important it is for a jazz musician to look slammin' in a suit.
We like the results.
We recently took part in the Witte Museum and KRTU Jazz Radio's "Live at the Witte" series of summer concerts. They've turned out to be a blast: the gorgeous, leafy grounds of the Witte create a casual, relaxed atmosphere that brings out the best in jazz groups.
Greg couldn't make it for the first set because of a late plane flight, so our friend Brandon Rivas came and served as special guest bassist. (When Greg arrived he persuaded Brandon to stay and we had a two bass hit.)
Fortunately, the whole thing was recorded by KRTU's engineers. Unfortunately, it wasn't caught on video. Fortunately, though, my wife brought the flip, and shot this whole song in its entirety.
The song itself is "Porta," a latin number I wrote for our 2003 CD "Blizz Blazz," which is available on iTunes, Amazon, and through our website.
Just a note: the Protags, founded in 1990, are getting ready to celebrate their 20th Anniversary this winter. Stay tuned, and we'll let you know all about it, because we're not going to let that landmark go by without a great big shindig.
We recently had the King William Jazz Collective on the Protagonists Jazz Party as special guests, on KRTU. Beautiful arrangements, fine musicians, an enthusiastic audience, all add up to a satisfying night. Check it out: The King William Show.
And look below for a FREE archive of previous shows. This is jazz radio the way it used to be done, folks.
On August 8th we played a really fun concert at the Witte Museum, and Protagonists superfan Elizabeth Turner snapped these really great photos. Take a look!
Hey kids - we had a blast with our show Sixties Night, on the Protagonists Jazz Party, on KRTU. Stay tuned for more cool stuff from that night, where we played stuff from a great decade for music.
Usually, jazzers mining the 60s will go to the seminal albums of Wayne Shorter, or late-good-period Miles Davis, or things like Herbie Hancock's amazing "Speak Like a Child." But what we did instead was go straight to the popular songs written that decade -- for jazz musicians, popular music will always be a rich source for improvisation.
Here's our jazz journey through a song that epitomized the Sixties in cinema, Michel Legrande's haunting main theme from the movie The Umbrellas of Cherbourg:I Will Wait For You.
For all you Harry Potter fans out there, here's a song from our Potter tribute show: the main theme from the movies, composed by John Williams, and interpreted by your favorite jazz trio. Hedwig's Theme.
Check out some recent Protagonists Jazz Parties! They're archived on krtu.org, but only for a week after we've done them, so ya gotta hurry. Or just download them from here!
The King William Show, featuring the King William Jazz Collective as our special guests: a 17-piece band led by saxophonist Bill King. Beautiful arrangements, fine musicians, an enthusiastic audience, all add up to a satisfying night.
Rhythm Cats -- the Mission City Hot Rhythm Cats, that is, a crack ensemble consisting of some of the best jazz musicians around, and dedicated to playing a lively blend of styles from the 20s and 30s.
Drum Night, with special guest drummers Jay Burrid Mitthauer and Steve Glaeser. Some really fun stuff here, with nice interplay between the drummers, who are panned across the stereo field.
Sax Night, with special guest saxophonists Pierre Poiree and David Villanueva. These guys had actually never gigged with each other and were excited to play together. They both turned in soulful, superb performances.
Party With Marty, our tribute to the great arranger Marty Paich, with an impressive dektet composed of San Antonio's best players. Paich, who wrote for Ella Fitzgerald, Art Pepper, Sammy Davis Jr, and Mel Torme, among others, was known for his offbeat, agile brass charts. In particular, he quoted liberally and cleverly from bop masterpieces and pop culture, as well as throwing in obscure in-crowd references. Protag arranger Barry Brake had some fun with our original Protagonists numbers, "Protag Blues" and "50-50," giving the dektet crazy quotes from Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Styx, Rush, Deep Purple, Guy Lombardo, and more. We had tons of fun. Here's the lineup:
Mike Palermo, trumpet
Logan Keese, trumpet
Mark Lumley, French horn
Dave Deering, trombone
Ron Wilkins, tuba
Morgan King, tenor sax
George Briscoe, bari sax
Gabe Herrera, aux percussion
Ken Slavin, vocals
Darren, Greg, and Barry protagonists
Harry Potter Night, recorded at the outset of Harry Potter Miracle Month, with songs inspired by the series, including originals, standards like "Old Devil Moon" (dedicated to a certain R. Lupin), and a couple of stunning re-imaginings of stuff from the movies. Don't miss it.
Two Bass Hit, with our special guest the Downbeat-award-winning string bassist Adam Booker.
A Cartful of Horace, our tribute to Horace Silver, with special guests: Ron Wilkins, trombone; Logan Keese, trumpet; Heinz Frohmeyer, piano; and Brandon Rivas, bass.
80s Night. We love the 80s! For the August Protag Jazz Party on krtu 91.7 FM, we did a little thing called 80s night, with music by Wham, Michael Jackson, Sade, and a beautiful ballad from the movie "An American Tail" that caused Greg to say "Man, that takes me back to when I was young and still believed in mice."
70s Night. Do you like Pina Colada? Barbra Streisand's afro? Oh my goodness: it's 70s night! For June 27th Protag Jazz Party on krtu 91.7 FM, we took a trip to the 1970s, and did songs like "Figure Eight," from Schoolhouse Rock, the theme song from "The Jeffersons" as a New Orleans-style march, and — our favorite for the evening — a ten-minute journey through "Evergreen." And don't miss the zippy samba version of the Carpenters' "Close To You." Oh, what a night.
Fiesta Night. Fiesta, baby. The April 25th Protag Jazz Party on krtu 91.7 FM was an all-Fiesta-music program. We weren't sure, going into it, what that would mean, but as it turned out we kicked off with Tito Puente's immortal party tune "Oye Como Va," then went on to play some swingy Willie Nelson and some original Protagonists salsa, plus "I'm an Old Cowhand," a moody take on "They Call The Wind Mariah," and a Latino "San Antonio Rose."
Last summer we played a concert as part of KRTU's "Jazz at the Witte" series. We had guest artists Ron Wilkins and Rob Hart with us, playing trombone/bass trumpet and sax, respectively. Fortunately, we also had recording mikes on! Check out our impromptu version of Miles Davis's classic "So What." You can hear the birds twittering in the trees, and the guys laughing when Ron opens up with a direct quote from Miles's original solo.