All These Hands
Michael Dease, trombone
Renee Rosnes, piano
Gerald Cannon, bass
Lewis Nash, drums
Steve Wilson, flute, alto sax, tenor sax
Etienne Charles, trumpet
Randy Napoleon, guitar
Rodney Whitaker, bass
Jason Hainsworth, tenor sax (track 7)
Diego Rivera, tenor sax (track 7)
Rufus Reid, bass (track 11)
Dan Pratt, tenor sax (track 11)
To be released by Posi-Tone Records on January 6, 2017
The music of "All These Hands” traces the story of the spread of Jazz music throughout the United States, from New Orleans up through the Midwest and up the Eastern Seaboard. The story parallels the African American Northern Migration and each composition deals with a reflective musical character of a major city and region.
1. Creole Country - New Orleans, Louisiana was the nexus for American culture in the early 20th century. The ethnic conversations of dialect, cuisine and dance combined with the social reactions to the dissolution of Slavery fed the appetite of the young American artist. The Caribbean-flavored “Poinciana” rhythmic groove reflects the upbeat curiosities of the unique mixture of Freedman, Caucasian, Mulatto, Central and South American, and Creole peoples.
2. Delta City Crossroads - Simple, soulful take on the Delta City Blues sound in Mississippi with the second most important instrument in the tradition (voice is the first), the guitar. Talking through our instruments about the weather, hard times, weekend plans, hopes and dreams. This sound has had an enormous impact upon American music in not just Jazz, but Rhythm and Blues, Doo-Wop, Rock, Hard Rock, Motown, Soul and Hip Hop.
3. Good & Terrible - The story of Slavery, Emancipation and Progress is both a horror and a hope. It shines a light on the greatest and most terrible aspects of humanity. This melody is inspired from a phrase made popular by a musician that understood this completely, John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie, whose spirit is captured and represented by the brilliant Trinidadian trumpeter Etienne Charles.
4. Territory Blues - There were bands starting in the 1920’s that crisscrossed their region bringing dance music to the masses. JJ Johnson, Miles Davis, Clark Terry, Stan Getz and numerous others got their start in these groups. Although African Americans were working 6-7 nights a week on salary, they were subject to Jim Crow laws and their associated prejudices further tempering jazz music through search for equality, acceptance and true freedom. Some of the early bands were comprised of musicians that played entirely by ear and did not read music. This blues goes for some of that early flavor.
5. Benny's Bounce - The City of Brotherly Love (Philadelphia, PA) takes a unique, hip look on Jazz music. There’s a sly hipness to the way that blues, swing and bebop are interpreted by their musicians. John Coltrane, from the small country town of Hamlet, North Carolina spent his last teen years there and changed the course of the music. Master musicians and Philadelphians Jimmy Heath and Christian McBride both have incredible range and facility in their approach as does the legendary saxophonist/composer Benny Golson. This song is written with a similar harmonic progression similar to his most enduring composition, “Along Came Betty”.
6. Black Bottom Banter - Named by its original French settlers for the rich deposits of topsoil, the Black Bottom neighborhood near the Detroit, Michigan’s East Side became known as the city's artistic home for Jazz, Blues and Big Band of the 1930s to the 1950s. This duet with "Detroit native son Rodney Whitaker explores the 8-bar blues form, a precursor of the standard 12-bar blues with five different brass tonal inflections: cup mute, pixie & plunger mute, buzz mute, open horn and growl. Rodney uses a slide technique on the bass’s fingerboard to get a rural, country sound similar to the trombone’s gifts. The setting for this exchange is a prayer meeting at a Detroit church where deacons and members stand up to shout out their blessings.
7. Downtown Chi-Town - Chicago was a destination and way station for New York-bound southern African-Americans looking for a better life with more opportunities in the early 1900’s. The shipping industry and central proximity started a booming economy, which stimulated significant musical artistry and innovation including the Chicago Blues, Soul, Gospel, Avant Garde and Traditional Jazz styles. Chicagoans are tough and sturdy, much like the feel of this song.
8. Gullah Ring Shout - The Gullah are the descendants of enslaved Africans living in the the Low country regions of Georgia and South Carolina. Due to the isolation of their area, the Gullah culture has preserved much of their cultural African heritage along with American and Caribbean influences. The ring shout is a powerfully emotive religious ritual involving stomping, clapping and moving in a circle with all the participants moving towards a transcendental spiritual release.
9. Chocolate City - Trains figuratively made the world go around for much of the Post-Industrial Revolution Age. They facilitated an exchange of goods and social conciousness that was previously inconceivable. The call to order in the Washington DC train car to this day is a door chime of the Major Third interval, specifically E to C. You’ll hear references to train engines in the snare drum brushes, the weight of the car in the bass/piano ostinato and the door chime itself with the brass duet.
10. Memphis BBQ & Fish Fry - It’s a Southern tradition to gather friends and family and start cooking the mess out of some ribs and catfish. It could be in the backyard, at church or at the community center down the street with a boom- box plugged in to the local jamming radio station. Everyone is nursing a cold beverage waiting for the sketchy grill master to drop some freshly-cooked and slightly charred goodies into the paper-toweled tin tray. It’s loose and chill, a jam session in it’s own right and Steve, Renee and myself are playing our own version of this party. I was excited to learn that in Renee’s 35-year career this was her first recording on a “Wurly”.
11. Brooklyn - New York City’s boldest borough would be the third largest city in the United States behind Los Angeles and Chicago respectively, and its diverse constituency imprints the entire history of Jazz music upon the music industry. The ostonato bass figures combined with simple and complex tonalities represent the blending of ethnicities unique to the Brooklyn landscape and qualifying the Dutch-born motto “Unity makes strength."
12. Up South Reverie - Freedom for American Slaves and their descendants has been a reaction and recurrence of continual displacement. Ripped from Africa, their families and liberated their master’s yoke, african-americans began an- other painful journey towards hopeful, northern beacons of equality: Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, among other cities.
The intensity and percussiveness of Rodney Whitaker’s solo bass violin tell a story of hope, pain, fear and convalescence.