Dec 10, 2012
The last decade has seen Tim Warfield, Jr. become one of the most continuously interesting sax players around. After serving his time as a valued sideman with Christian McBride and Nicholas Payton, Warfield - along with his running mate Terrell Stafford – has emerged as a leader of some stature, playing originals and standards at a high level of expertise.
This makes the release of Tim Warfield’s Jazzy Christmas all the more exciting. Warfield has gathered a who’s who of players – Stafford on trumpet, Cyrus Chestnut on piano, Stefon Harris on vibes, Rodney Whitaker on bass, Clarence Penn on drums and Daniel Sadownick on percussion – to create a fully realized jazz album that interprets Christmas (and for one tune, Chanukah) music. That is a rare feat indeed.
I spoke with Tim as he prepared for a series of live Jazz Christmas shows in and around his native Pennsylvania, and we talked about the group, the way the tunes were arranged and recorded, and what he learned from his work with McBride and Payton. Click here to listen to Podcast 323, which includes musical selections from his career, such as:
Tim Warfield – “Let It Snow” from Tim Warfield’s Jazzy Christmas. Tim said this arrangement was inspired by Tony Bennett’s version from his parent’s record collection. He’s brought it forward in a soulful manner with strong rhythm section playing by Rodney Whitaker on bass, Clarence Penn on drums and Daniel Sadownick on percussion.
Tim Warfield – “The Dreidel Song” from Tim Warfield’s Jazzy Christmas. The celebration of Hanukkah never swung so hard as it does this version of the classic Jewish children’s song.
Christian McBride – “Open Sesame” from A Family Affair. After working with Marlon Jordan, Warfield’s first big break came by working with bass player McBride, this 1998 release was peppered with nods to the R&B and Funk Christian grew up on. This is a Kool & the Gang cover, and the then young and basically unknown band makes the most of it – Warfield on tenor sax, McBride on bass, Charles Craigon keyboards, Gregory Hutchinson on drums, Russell Malone on acoustic & electric guitars, and Munyungo Jackson on percussion
Nicholas Payton – “Li’ Duke’s Strut” from Payton’s Place. Warfield gives Payton credit for developing his ability to focus and push forward on stage, since with Payton “every night could be your last”, laughs Tim. The band is Payton on trumpet, Warfield on tenor sax, Anthony Wonsey on piano, Reuben Rogers on bass and Adonis Rose on drums.
Tim Warfield Sextet – Title Track from A Whisper In the Night. Recorded in 1995 for the Chris Cross Label, this Warfield original features a killer band of Warfield on sax, Stafford on trumpet, Harris on vibes, Chestnut on piano, Tarus Mateen on bass and Penn on drums.