Jul 24, 2010
Wayne Escoffery is one of the most versatile tenor saxophone players we have today. Ever since he left the Hartford/New Haven, Connecticut scene under the legendary Jackie McLean’s tutelage, he has been playing in small bands, large bands, as a side man and accompanist for some of the finest in the business.
Now 35 years old, he will get his first chance to headline the stage in Hartford’s Bushnell Park on Monday, July 26, 2010 with his wife, the singer Carolyn Leonhardt. Ms. Leonhardt is a fine soloist, and has spent much of her time working as a background singer for Steely Dan. This will be a good chance for them to step out and strut their stuff.
I spoke with Wayne in anticipation of the gig, so click here to listen to Podcast 186, which features music from the wide variety of acts with which the couple have recorded, including:
Wayne Escoffery – “Tell Me Why” from Veneration. Recorded live at Smoke in Manhattan, this track shows why Escoffery is among our finest tenor players, backed here by a band of Joe Locke on vibes, Hans Glawisching on bass and Lewis Nash on drums.
Lyn Leon – “66th Street” from Glass Lounge. A most unusual trio recording allows us to listen to Carolyn Leonhardt spin her magic. This 2006 session is a trio of Ms. Leonhardt, and Mats Eser and Stephan Deithem performing on a number of unusual instruments, including the “BB-phone”, a xylophone-like instrument made of 20 bowls that are played with mallets or rubbed with wet fingertips. The bowls are tuned by filling them with water to vary their pitch, for an ethereal but jazzy result.
Wayne Escoffery & Carole Leonhardt – The Harbor (“Poppy’s Song”) from Tides of Yesterday. The latest album from the happy couple is a Joe Martin tune to which Carolyn and her brother Michael added lyrics. The result is done in a challenging tempo, and played by band members including Hans Glawisching on bass, Toru Dodo on piano and Donald Edwards on drums.
Tom Harrell – “Prana” from Prana Dance. One of last year’s finest releases was Harrell’s quintet date, featuring keyboardist , saxophonist , bassist , and drummer . In our interview, Escoffery points out that Harrell is one of our finest composers as well as a trumpet master, and that working with Harrell has inspired him to work on his own composition skills.
Mingus Big Band – “Goodbye Porkpie Hat” from Live at the Jazz Standard. Escoffery is a regular at the Jazz Standard’s Monday night collectives, where he plays Mingus tunes with a revolving bunch of jazz stars. This recording of Mingus’ signature tune, from New Year’s Even 2009, featuring Escoffery on tenor sax,
Jeremy Pelt – “When the Saints Go Marching In” from Live at the Jazz Standard. This is not your typical arrangement, so enjoy the trumpeter Pelt and saxophonist Escoffery go beyond the bounds of typical expectations for a swinging version. Visit Jeremy’s website for more.