DO Tell is: Dan Clucas – cornet | Mark Weaver – tuba | Dave Wayne – drums, electronics
Music _ All compositions by Julius Hemphill. Recording _ December 30, 2014 at Oasis Sound Studio, Edgewood, NM, USA. Sound engineering and mixing _ Kirk Brown. Mastering _ Maurizio Giannotti at New Mastering Studio, Milano, Italy. Cover art _ The Blue Prince (detail) by Joseph Griffo. Liner note _ Alex Cline. Julius Hemphill photo _ Stanlynn Daugherty. Do Tell photos _ R. Oyama, K. Tiner. Graphics _ Nicola Guazzaloca. Production _ Gianni Mimmo for Amirani records. Thanks to Mr. Baikida Carroll for his generous help
Tracklist: 1. Floppy 2. Dogon A.D. 3. Body 4. Hotend 5. The Hard Blues 6. G Song
A simply beautiful release
by a formidable trio featuring a fitting tribute to Julius Hemphill’s astonishing music. Utterly modern and original, his compositions are here investigated in an unique cornet-tuba-configuration offering very original and resourceful arrangements of some of Hemphill’s trademarks pieces. Along with a liner- note by Alex Cline here is an album you simply can’t miss!
Julius Hemphill’s music
is about digging under the facts, pulling out the stops, revealing the insides, telling the truth. His groove-oriented pieces (Steppin’, The Hard Blues, Otis Groove) seem to be a function of his having internalized the essence of the blues, so that the feeling, the ache of that music, is imbedded in the soul of these songs. Contrarily, his more compositional side is less about rhythm and more about sound, timbre, and tone. But always, his compositions value improvisation; even his most thoroughly notated works call for the musicians to collectively improvise within the parameters of that piece and there again lies the spirit of the blues in Julius Hemphill’s music, which is perhaps the most revealing truth of all.
Mr. Julius Hemphill was an extraordinarily evocative composer and saxophonist. His compositions and arrangements for the World Saxophone Quartet and his most recent group, the Julius Hemphill Sextet, used the sound of massed reeds to conjure up decades of black musical forms.
At times, his harmonies approached the luxury of Duke Ellington’s reed writing and the opulence of the big-band tradition. At other times, his work recalled the shouting intensity of the church. Mr. Hemphill’s writing was in part based on rhythm-and-blues, and his compositions never strayed far from the blues sensibility, the slightly acid tinge that turned his compositions into something profound.
As an alto saxophonist he had absorbed the lessons of Ornette Coleman’s style, and produced a distinct version of his own. He was a thoughtful improviser with a hard tone who could scream or carefully execute a melody. And he knew the power of the riff: his improvisations were always rhythmic. Born in 1938, Julius Hemphill divided his attention between music and sports while growing up in the fertile musical environment of Fort Worth, Texas where he studied with John Carter, the clarinetist and teacher. He gained experience playing in local blues bands and jazz groups and began focusing on his musical career in earnest after moving to St. Louis in 1966. In 1968, Hemphill joined the Black Artists Group (BAG), playing an instrumental role in developing this interdisciplinary performance collective.
In the early 70s, the composer recorded two albums, “Dogon A.D.” and “Coon Bid’ness”.
Without those albums, a good portion of what happened in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, in both the new-music and jazz worlds, would not have existed. In 1973, Mr. Hemphill moved to New York and became part of a fertile group of musicians who had come from St. Louis, Chicago and Los Angeles, including the saxophonists Hamlet Bluiett, Arthur Blythe and Oliver Lake. For several years, he composed mixed-media events, including “The Orientation of Sweet Willie Rollbar,” which he performed in New York in 1973, and “Obituary: Cosmos for Three Parts,” which was performed in New York a year later. In 1976, Mr. Hemphill helped to form the World Saxophone Quartet, which featured the work of David Murray, Hamiet Bluiett and Oliver Lake. It was that group that brought Mr. Hemphill’s writing to a larger audience. The band developed into an extremely precise ensemble that forced both the musicians and audiences to reconsider the relationship of instruments and the rhythm section.
Mr. Hemphill continued recording on his own, including the important “Roi Boye and the Gotham Minstrels,” from 1977, along with an album featuring a big band and a live recording with a funk band. And he performed in improvisational theater in the late 1970’s. After leaving the World Saxophone Quartet in 1989, Hemphill devoted more of his time to collaborative multi-media projects and expanded his compositional palette. The Julius Hemphill Sextet was featured in his “Long Tongues: A Saxophone Opera”, which was presented at the Apollo Theater in 1990. He also wrote music for the dancer Bill T. Jones’s “Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land.” In 1993, his “Plan B” was performed by the Richmond Symphony, and he and his saxophone sextet performed in clubs and at festivals around the world.
DO TELL – HOTEND
Over the past almost forty years I have been extraordinarily fortunate to have had the privilege and pleasure of working with many artists whom I could, with total sincerity and confidence, call true musical geniuses. Prominent among them is Julius Hemphill. Julius was the kind of musical genius from whom a seemingly endless and effortless stream of musical ideas constantly flowed, all of them steeped and rooted in the rich tradition of African American music while at the same time being utterly modern and original. His originality was demonstrated via his stunning giftedness as a composer as well as through his facile and bold aptitude as a saxophonist; he was as much an improvisor as a composer. As a bandleader, Julius had the rare qualities of being thoroughly inclusive, flexible, adventurous, and generous, inspiring his sidepeople with his singular musical vision while also allowing them an abundance of space in which to contribute their own special gifts to the music. So why has such an uncommonly brilliant and important artist received so little in the way of tribute and appreciation even years after his death?
Thankfully, the importance of Hemphill’s artistry has not eluded everyone. The trio Do Tell – cornetist Dan Clucas, tuba player Mark Weaver, and drummer-percussionist Dave Wayne has offered this wonderful recording, Hotend, as both an excellent context for their own unique and formidable abilities as musicians and as a fitting tribute to Julius and his astonishing music. Presenting an exceptionally well-selected and well-balanced program of six of Julius’ compositions, Do Tell serves to remind the listening world of Julius’ genius. While the trio’s unique cornet-tuba-drums configuration might seem to be something of a hurdle in adequately representing Julius’ music, especially those compositions which demonstrated his particularly original and remarkable use of harmony, the group offers its own very original and resourceful arrangements of such trademark Hemphill compositions as “Dogon A.D.” (which even has a drum solo in its notorious 11/8 time signature) and “The Hard Blues” (which includes a visceral, growling tuba solo). Adeptly tackling swingers like “Floppy” and the funky “Body,” with its almost New Orleans-flavored, second-line feel, the trio also succeeds in retaining the melancholy and even heartbreak that so often characterized Hemphill’s ballads in their rendering of “Hotend,” using the composition as a platform for atonal collective improvisation that combines Clucas’ soulful cornet, Weaver’s plaintive tuba, and a universe of sounds and textures provided by Wayne’s percussion and electronics. Even the simple, folksy “G Song” becomes a surprising vehicle for the group’s exploration of the more spacious and spacey terrain of collective music-making, demonstrating the kind of broadband, inclusive approach to improvisation and interpretation that Hemphill so encouraged and appreciated himself.
Of course, from a merely surface-level appraisal of Do Tell’s renditions of Hemphill’s music it’s obvious that, perhaps unexpectedly, there is no saxophone on it. One of the most immediately striking and ultimately pleasing aspects of this project is that the musician who fronts the trio, cornetist Clucas, is so perfectly suited to the seemingly daunting task at hand. Like Hemphill, Clucas draws on the full tradition of jazz and creative improvised music, from the streets of New Orleans to the A.A.C.M. and beyond, and also like Hemphill does it in a manner that combines impressive command of his instrument with a looseness and at times rawness that evokes the blues that is unavoidably at the heart of this music. Cushioned and buoyed by the solid but consistently maneuverable support of Weaver and Wayne, Clucas soars, whether freely swinging with his muted horn as on “Floppy,” rocking the plunger as on “The Hard Blues,” emitting subtle squeaks and cries on “Hotend” and “G Song,” or boldly commanding the full range of his fiercely fluid, wide-open horn on “Dogon A.D.” and “Body.” One of Hemphill’s most frequent and brilliant foils during his career was trumpeter Baikida Carroll, another outstanding artist whose talent has sadly gone largely unsung (and someone I feel is one of greatest musicians with whom I’ve ever worked). As I listen to this recording, even with Baikida’s irreplaceable performances in mind, I can’t help imagining what a great match Clucas might also have been for Hemphill. Clucas emerges as something of an ideal interpreter of Julius’ music. Having been familiar with Clucas’ playing for many years and having made music with him in many diverse projects, this hardly surprises me, but hearing it delights me nonetheless.
Although Julius Hemphill’s contribution to the history and development of creative music unfortunately continues to be under-celebrated, we can happily offer a deep bow of gratitude to the ardent appreciation, collective talent, and inspired determination of Do Tell for endeavoring to continue and to contribute to his magnificent musical legacy by giving us Hotend. May we enjoy the fruit of their effort, and may we all remember Julius’ inimitable genius with admiration and awe. — Alex Cline Culver City, CA USA March 2015
Dan Clucas began playing trumpet at age ten and started playing in school jazz groups a couple of years later, becoming a lifelong devotee of the music upon first hearing *An Electrifying Evening With the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet” at fifteen. Later forays into the music of Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and the Art Ensemble of Chicago led to an appreciation of a diverse array of artists in the African-American music continuum, not least of them Julius Hemphill. Clucas has studied with cornetist Bobby Bradford and trumpeter/composer Wadada Leo Smith, and has performed extensively in the Los Angeles area as well as the Pacific Northwest and New Mexico, where he co-founded DO lr r I with Dave Wayne and Mark Weaver in 2009. He is a lifelong resident of Southern California, currently living in Pasadena, that city northeast of L.A. where Bob Bradford has taught so many so much.
Tuba player, composer, bandleader from the center of the vibrant arts community of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Mark Weaver has been operating for years to make creative music happen in many ways. A trombone and baritone horn player in high school, Mark was 26 years old before he finally realized that it was the sound of the luba for which he was looking. Since then, he has performed, toured, and recorded in a range of music ensembles including jazz combos, free-improvisation and new-music groups, poetry+music ensembles, and collaborations with film and theater productions. He is a composer with dozens of his pieces on record with various ensembles. In 2012, Mark’s group UFO Ensemble (a brass and drums quartet exploring Mark’s compositions) was selected for a featured performance at the annual UNM Composer’s Symposium/Outpost Creative Soundspace Festival. Additionally, Mark has been responsible for producing a great many regional music events with local and international artists, most notably “THE ROOST Creative Music Series” (www.TheRoostABQ.com), now in its seventh annual season. His collaborations include works with Christopher, Jeremy Barnes, Jeremy Bleich, Anthony Braxton, Dan Clucas, J.A. Deane, Harris Eisenstadt, Lisa Gill, Malcolm Goldstein, Jeff Kaiser, Alan Lechusza, Mark McGrain, Jack Manno, Butch Morris, Tatsuya Nakatani, David Parlato, Roswell Rudd, Damon Smith, Milton Villarrubia III, Biggi Vinkeloe. He considers these artists to have been his teachers in his ongoing musical education process.
Born in Philadelphia, PA and grown in Pompano Beach, FL, Dave Wyane was captivated by music thanks to his older brother who introduced him to Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Muddy Waters, Gary Burton and Jimi Hendrix. Essentially self-taught on drums he was formally educated as a geologist. Since moving to New Mexico in 1993, Dave Wayne played with a number of innovative and accomplished NM based artists including Mark Weaver, double bass player Ben Wright, Scott Jarrett, saxophonist Chris Jonas, pianist Robert Muller, poets Robert Winson and Mark Weber, guitarists Stefan Dill and Ross Hamlin.
Thanks to the chance to perform with touring musicians such as Dan Clucas, keyboardist Brian Haas (ofJFJO), guitarist Jeff Platz, saxophonists Andrew Lamb, Rob Brown, Alan Lechusza and Joshua Smith, trombonist Michael Vlatkovich and bassist Clyde Redd, Dave developed his own style and a great flexibility. In 2009 he formed his own band – The Things That Are Heard – in order to air out “…my half-baked ideas concerning the relationship between composition and improvisation in music”.
Dave Wayne continues to compose and play music for local jazz and jazz-rock groups. His playing has been documented on a fistful of albums, both privately issued and on labels such as pfMENTUM, Plutonium, Snowdonia, and Zerx. In addition to playing music, he’s a husband, father and homeowner, works full-time as a scientist, maintains a collection of 9000 records and CDs and writes music reviews for AllAboutJazz.com
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