Jun 11, 2023
Wayne Escoffery was riding high the morning I spoke with him. And why not? Just that weekend he had become the first person of color to conduct a performance of Charles Mingus' epic "Epitaph.," a piece he had played before under the direction of Gunther Schuller. His latest album, Like Minds, ws just out on Smoke Sessions Records, and featured top notch guests like Gregory Porter, Tom Harrell, and Mike Moreno joining Escoffery’s quartet of David Kikoski, Ugonna Okegwo, and Mark Whitfield, Jr.
Whitfield Jr is the new hand on board, as longtime drummer Ralph Peterson Jr. had passed away in March 2021.. This is a top notch group, and the selections are brilliantly assembled with Escoery tunes, most written during the lockdown days of the pandemic.
New for Wayne is the recording of tunes for which he has written lrics, and who better to sing them than Gregory Porter? Particualrly stunning is the group's talke on the reggae classic "Rivers of Babylon," which had been oft-heard in the Escoffery household during his youth.
Podcast 951 is my conversatioin with Wayne (an apology for some of the audio distortion from cellphones) as we talk about the importance of his longtime collaborators to his sound, and what they bring to the studio when they all get together. Musical slections include "Like Minds" and "Rivers of Babylon."