Mar 25, 2020
Trumpeter Jason Palmer has been near the top of my list of people to feature on Straight No Chaser for several years now. As a sideman working with Mark Turner and Noah Preminger, he made huge contributions to some of their top recordings, and last week he dropped his fourteenth album as a bandleader.
The Concert: 12 Musings for Isabella is a live recording made possible by Jimmy Katz’s Giant Step Arts, as was Palmer’s 2019 album Rhyme & Reason. The recording features a quintet including Turner on saxophone, and top notch players Joel Ross (vibes), Edward Perez (bass), and Kendrick Scott (drums). Each track on the album is title taken from a specific artwork stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Massachusetts thirty years ago. That robbery, which remains unsolved to this day, took masterpieces from Rembrandt, Vermeer, Manet, and Degas, among others, valued in excess of $500 million
Palmer and Turner are outstanding together, working with and against one another to coax the difficult compositions into full bloom. Ross never fails to add his flourishes to the tunes, and Pererz and Scott manage to be both rock solid and flexible in the rhythms and time signatures, which can get thorny from time to time.
Hailing from High Point, North Carolina (yes, the birthplace of John Coltrane), Palmer has been a Boston fixture since his time at the New England Conservatory and Berklee School of Music, He is an Assistant Professor of Ensembles and Brass at Berklee, and as a board member at JazzBoston. Jason is also a regular at jam sessions across Boston, most notably Wally’s Café Jazz Club, which has been going strong for more than seventy years.
Podcast 735 is my conversation with Jason Palmer, as we talk about the inspiration for the new album, his collaborations with Mark Turner, and the Boston jazz scene. Musical selections include the title track, named after the most valuable of the stolen paintings, Vermeer’s “The Concert” and “An Ancient Chinese Gu.”