Mon, 16 December 2013
Christmas CDs come and go, but the one released this year by the Manhattan Brass Quintet should remain a holiday jazz staple for years to come. R.J. Kelley (horn), Mike Seltzer (trombone), Wayne Du Maine (trumpet), Dave Taylor (bass trombone) and Lew Soloff (trumpet) have put together Manhattan Holiday, with tunes arranged by two of the most creative artists working in music today; Carla Bley and Jack Walrath. This group of musicians brings their intense love of classical music and jazz improvisation to tunes both familiar and unfamiliar to the casual ear, and slyly creates music that is both accessible and avant-garde. Now those are words you don’t usually see mentioned when we’re talking about Christmas music!
I had the pleasure of speaking with Soloff about the group and how the CD came to be. Soloff is the quintessential New York jazz musician, having played in combos, big bands, show pits and elsewhere for over thirty years. He may be best known for his stint with the seminal jazz-rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears – that’s his trumpet solo in the classic “Spinning Wheel”. However, he has nine solo CDs to his credit, while presently working with Manhattan Brass, Manhattan Jazz Quintet and Orchestra, and also his own trio, quartet and quintet. He has just formed a new group with string quartet and trumpet.
Podcast 398 is our conversation, featuring musical selections from Manhattan Holiday to show the broad variety of music they selected - non-traditional tunes like "Siciliana" and Thelonious Monk's "Stuffy Turkey" as well as two Carla Bley arrangements of Chistmas classics, "Oh Tannenbaum" and "Joy to the World".