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THE JAZZ-BLUES ALL-STARS

Jeff Hamilton, drums

Larry Goldings, organ and piano

Ron Escheté, guitar

Red Holloway, tenor sax

Houston Person, tenor sax

Rickey Woodard, tenor sax

RON ESCHETÉ (pronounced ESH-tay) is the consummate master of the seven-string guitar. Whether he is playing bebop, ballads or blues, he is a musically sophisticated guitarist who plays with grace and dignity. His deft and nimble fingers paint a spectrum of sound so rich that his voicings are often compared with those of a pianist. 20th Century Guitar likens his sound to that of the great Bill Evans.

Escheté is currently performing and recording with the Ron Escheté Trio, featuring Todd Johnson on six-string bass and Kendall Kay on drums. While he has long been regarded as one of the finest guitarists in mainstream jazz, now Escheté ranks as an innovative leader for his work with this ensemble.

Escheté was born in 1948 in Houma, Louisiana, and not surprisingly his early influences were jazz masters Jim Hall, Howard Roberts, and Wes Montgomery. After receiving his first guitar at the age of 14, Escheté joined a quartet and was working clubs in Louisiana before he had even graduated from high school. He attended Loyola University where he majored in classical guitar and minored in flute. While there he studied with classical guitarist Paul Guma.

LARRY GOLDINGS is considered by many to be one of today’s premier jazz organist, pianists, and composers. Born and raised in the Boston area, Goldings started playing th epiano by ear at the age of nine. By the age of 12, he had developed a love for jazz and sought out private instruction. His formative instructors included Peter Casino, the avant-garde Ran Blake, and world-renowned pianist Keith Jarrett. In 1986, Larry left his Boston home to enroll in an innovative pilot jazz program at the New School for Social Research in New York City.

In 1988, Larry happened upon a regular gig at a pianoless bar called Augie’s on New York’s Upper West Side. This became Larry’s training ground as an organist where he was featured with several bands, including those of drummer Leon Parker and saxophonist Jesse Davis. Most important, Larry’s own trio with guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Bill Stewart got its auspicious start there, and the three musicians have since developed a musical rapport rareley seen in jazz groups today.

After college, Larry began exploring another of his passions – funk music – with Maceo Parker, one of the most influential figures in the history of the genre. Worldwide exposure with Maceo brought Larry a record deal and the start of a solo career with a 1991 release for Verve Records called The Intimacy of the Blues. While riding the wave of an organ resurgence, Larry quickly made a name for himself as themost original and versatile organist on the scene. Guitarist John Scofield recognized this, and in 1993, he hired Larry to play in what became one of Scofield’s most highly acclaimed bands.

Larry has made six recordings, including three critically-acclaimed CDs for Warner Bros. As a sideman, he is on more than 30 CDs with artists such as John Scofield, Jim Hall, Maceo Parker, James Moody, and Jon Hendricks.

By the time he was eight years old, JEFF HAMILTON knew what he wanted to be when he grew up: a big band drummer. With single-minded devotion to this goal (and lots of practice), he was playing with the New Tommy Dorsey Orchestra just 12 years later.

Hamilton’s interest in jazz and big bands is understandable. Raised in a music-filled home in Richmond, Indiana, he grew up listening to his parents’ recordings of Oscar Peterson, Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey and other greats. The first instrument Hamilton played, at age five, was the piano. After an astute instructor proclaimed his “great rhythmic ability,” he began to study drumming.

Influenced by Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Mel Lewis, “Philly” Joe Jones and Shelly Manne, Hamilton studied percussion at Indiana University, then learned jazz drumming from John Von Ohlen, who lived nearby. A stint with the Lionel Hampton band came next, followed by two years as a member of the Monty Alexander Trio (with John Clayton). Another dream came true when he joined Woody Herman and the Thundering Herd, with whom he made several recordings. In 1978, he was offered the prestigious position vacated by Shelly Manne in the L.A. Four quartet, which included jazz greats Ray Brown, Laurindo Almeida and Bud Shank.

During the mid- to late 1980’s, Hamilton performed with Ella Fitzgerald, the Count Basie Orchestra, Rosemary Clooney, and Monty Alexander, then reunited with Ray Brown in 1988 as a member of the Ray Brown Trio. Of his long association with the legendary bassist, Hamilton says, “I think that when you play with great musicians like Ray for any period of time, you get this instant connection with them that neither person forgets, and you seek out opportunities to play with those people every chance you get. Because of that connection, you want to tap into it again and again.”

That philosophy remains the basis of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, which was formed in the mid-1980s when Hamilton reunited with John Clayton in Los Angeles. They hooked up with John’s brother, Jeff, and the three assembled an all-star team of musicians.

In addition to his recordings with Herman, Brown, CHJO and JHT, Hamilton has been featured on nearly 200 other albums and CDs with artists such as Natalie Cole, Barbra Streisand, Mel Torme, Rosemary Clooney, Benny Carter, Lalo Schifrin, George Shearing, and Dr. John. He also appeared in Natalie Cole’s PBS Great Performances special, Unforgettable, and the television documentary Life in the Key of Oscar about Peterson.

JAMES W. "RED" HOLLOWAY was born in Helena, Arkansas, on May 31, 1927, to a mother who played piano and a father who played violin. During grade school, Red played banjo and harmonica in school bands. His first musical instrument, a tenor sax, was given to him by his stepfather when he was twelve years old. At sixteen and while still in school, he was hired for his first professional engagement by bassist Gene Wright, who later went on to become a member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Red played with Wright's big band for three years at the Parkway Ballroom and then, when he was nineteen, joined the Army, where he became bandmaster for the U. S. Fifth Army Band.

After completing his military service, Red returned to Chicago and played with Yusef Lateef and Dexter Gordon, among others. In 1948 he was asked by blues vocalist Roosevelt Sykes to join Sykes' U. S. road tour. During the Fifties, Red continued playing in the Chicago area with such notables as Billie Holiday, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Ben Webster, Jimmy Rushing, Arthur Prysock, Dakota Staton, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Wardell Gray, Sonny Rollins, Red Rodney, Lester Young, Joe Williams, Redd Foxx, Aretha Franklin, and many others.

The public finally became aware of Red during the Sixties as a result of his association with organist “Brother” Jack McDuff; another member of this band was guitarist George Benson. The band was together from 1963 to 1966 and performed road tours in the States, as well as concerts in Europe. Red recorded several albums with McDuff on Prestige, including the hit single Rock Candy.

From 1977 to 1982, he and altoist Sonny Stitt became a duo and cut two records on Catalyst: Forecast: Sonny and Red and Partners. In fact, it was Sonny who encouraged Red to take up the alto saxophone, believing that anyone who could also play clarinet, flute, piccolo, piano, bass, drums, and violin could probably master yet another instrument. Sonny was right, and Red is equally proficient on both tenor and alto. Since Stitt's untimely death in 1982, Red has spent most of his time touring the States and Europe, either as a single or with his own band. He is now in partnership with trumpeter Clark Terry, with whom he has recorded on both Concord and Delos.

HOUSTON PERSON, internationally acclaimed tenor saxophonist, grew up in Florence, South Carolina. He studied at South Carolina State College and was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 1999. Houston also pursued advanced studies at Hartt College of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. While serving in the United States Air Force, he played with Eddie Harris, Cedar Walton, Leo Wright, Don Ellis, and Don Menza. After spending two years with Johnny “Hammond” Smith's band, he began his solo career in 1961. Houston has recorded over 75 albums under his own name on Prestige, Westbound, Mercury, Savoy, Muse, and is currently with HighNote Records. He has appeared as guest artist on the recordings of Etta Jones, Lena Home, Lou Rawls, Dakota Staton, Horace Silver, Charles Earland, Johnny Adams, Charles Brown, and many others. In addition he is much in demand as a record producer, having produced records by Etta Jones, Freddy Cole, Charles Brown, Buck Hill, Dakota Staton, and Ernie Andrews, among others. Houston's 1990 recording, Something In Common with Ron Carter, won the Independent Jazz Record of the Year Award. He also received an Indie Award for his recording “Why Not?” After more than two decades of steady performances, both in the U.S. and abroad, recording albums and singles, making a large number of concert and dance appearances, as well as radio and TV interviews, he has become firmly established on the contemporary jazz scene. He was the recipient of the prestigious Eubie Blake Jazz Award on October 17, 1982, and was honored with "Houston Person/Etta Jones Day" in Hartford County, Maryland on September 25, 1982 and in Washington D.C. on April 2, 1983. In 1993, Houston received the Fred Hampton Scholarship Fund Image Award. Together with Etta Jones, Houston was awarded the "Jazzy" award from KCSM Radio in San Mateo, California. Both his 1998 and 1999 recordings for HighNote Records, My Romance and Soft Lights reached the #1 position on the Gavin Jazz Chart, the only national listing for radio airplay. The recording My Buddy: Etta Jones Sings the Songs of Buddy Johnson, produced by Houston and featuring his tenor sax artistry, was nominated for a 1999 Grammy award in the category of Best Jazz Vocal.

Houston can currently be heard on his newest HighNote recording In a Sentimental Mood.

RICKEY WOODARD is one of the finest reedmen on the scene today. His impeccable chops and razor sharp attack have made him one of the most sought after musicians both here and abroad. He is equally at home playing alto, tenor and soprano saxophones, as well as clarinet and flute. On Woodard’s latest outing, The Silver Strut, Woodard sticks with the tenor sax for a soulful, melodic, and outrageously swinging tribute to Horace Silver. Joining Rickey for this jazz outing are Oscar Brashear (trumpet), Cedar Walton (piano), John Clayton (bass), and Jeff Hamilton (drums). Together they soar through nine tunes that capture the spirit of the best of the great Silver quintets, but the individual imprint these musicians bring to this body of work makes this every bit as much the Woodard Walk as the Silver Strut.

The Silver Strut’s title cut, penned by Woodard, is based on a story Horace Silver told band members (including Rickey, who works often with Silver) about the women who, when moved by the spirit, get up and dance in church. “‘Quick Flash,” another Woodard gem, is decidedly Silvery via its Latin feel. The evergreen ballad “‘Lover Man” is again given a sprightly Latin feel, enhanced greatly by the piano work of Cedar Walton. The changes to “Just In Time” provide the impetus for John Clayton’s “Grizzly.” Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” reveals the contemplative, yet aggressive style that places Rickey Woodard in the upper echelon of today’s sax greats. The other tunes also benefit from the camaraderie and good taste these all-star musicians share, making this homage to Silver a confident strut indeed.

Rickey Woodard hails from Nashville, Tennessee, where he grew up on a diet that included Stanley Turrentine and Ben Webster, among others. Rickey’s father, also an important influence, played classical piano, organ and saxophone. In 1980, Woodard was inducted into the Ray Charles Band. He has also been a member of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, the Sweet Baby Blues Band with Jeannie & Jimmy Cheatham, and Frank Capp in both big band and smaller ensemble settings.

Woodard has performed worldwide with such legends as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Ernestine Anderson, Benny Carter, Horace Silver, and Kenny Burrell, as well as legends-in-the-making like Benny Green, Christian McBride, and Eric Reed. He has appeared in many of the well-known festivals, including the North Sea and Fujitsu-Concord festivals.