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Temple University Jazz Faculty’s Covers Set Will Appeal To Jazz Audiences

Late this past April, Temple University’s jazz faculty, which includes famed trumpet player Terrell Stafford, released a new compilation record through BCM+D Records titled Fly With The Wind.  The four-song collection is, according to its liner notes – penned by Philadelphia Inquirer freelance journalist Shaun Brady – a tribute of sorts to four of the greatest musical names to come from the city of Philadelphia.  Those artists in question are pianist McCoy Tyner, trumpet player Dizzie Gillespie, saxophonist John Coltrane, and Stafford himself.  Clocking in at just under 40 minutes, the compilation is a presentation that offers plenty for audiences to enjoy, beginning with Brady’s liner notes, which will be examined shortly.  The liner notes set the stage for the featured covers, which will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record’s presentation.  All things considered they make the compilation a presentation that plenty of jazz fans are sure to appreciate.

Fly With The Wind, the new compilation record from the Temple University jazz faculty – Terrell Stafford, Dick Oatts, Bruce Barth, Tim Warfield, Mike Boone, and Justin Faulkner – is a presentation that fans and aficionados of jazz alike will find largely appealing.  That is due in part to its liner notes.  Penned by Philadelphia Enquirer freelance journalist Shaun Brady, the liner notes set the stage for the songs before audiences even start listening to the record.  Case in point, Brady calls the record’s title track, which is a cover of McCoy Tyner’s song, the collection’s centerpiece.  He writes of the energy that Stafford and company put into their performance here, adding their performance is meant to be in itself, a tribute to Tyner and his legacy.  The group’s performance lives up to Brady’s words here, too.  As an added note, Brady points out that the group’s performance is just one of a handful of songs composed by Tyner that has been covered at least in part by Barth.  The other songs on which Barth has worked will be left for listeners to discover for themselves.

On another note, Brady points out of ‘Yes I Can, No You Can’t,’ it is a song originally composed by Lee Morgan and that Stafford had already recorded a cover of the song in 2015.  He notes Barth and Warfield also contributed to that cover.  Barth speaks highly of Morgan and of the song in question in Brady’s notes.  His comments will be left for listeners to read themselves.  The importance of understanding that a large portion of this collective had previously recorded Morgan’s composition is that it can lead listeners to compare that rendition to the version presented in this collection.  That can and likely will deepen the appreciation for both takes, further showing the importance of Brady’s notes.

In writing of the group’s take of Coltrane’s timeless song, ‘Naima’ Brady really gets listeners interested as he writes of Warfield’s “breathy” solo and how it will leave listeners breathless themselves.  Such writing is certain to generate curiosity among audiences and in turn get them to fully immerse themselves in the recording.  It is on more way in which Brady’s talents as a wordsmith add to the overall listening experience here and really as the foundation for the compilation.

While the liner notes composed for Fly With The Wind clearly build a strong foundation for the collection, they are only a part of what makes the record worth hearing.  The songs themselves are at the center of its presentation.  Each song’s arrangement fully lives up to the comments made by Brady, too.  Stafford and company stay largely true to the source material that is Jimmy Heath and company’s work on ‘All Members,’ taking the originally six-and-a-half-minute opus only thirty seconds longer to seven minutes.  Brady writes of the group’s take on the song that the collective slows things down slightly from the original.  In listening to the original, the reduction in tempo certainly is very little.  In fact, if it is there, then it is so minute that it is nearly impossible to discern.  From Barth’s light touch on the piano to the saxophone solo (supposedly from Oatts), to Faulkner’s steady timekeeping and the rich sound from Boone on the bass, the whole makes this song a great opener for the record and equally fitting tribute to Heath and the musicians who helped craft this song.

Oatts and Barth shine just as much in the cover of ‘Naima’ through the simplicity of their approaches.  That is proven through the precision in Oatts’ dynamic control as he takes on Coltrane’s iconic composition.  He creates such a rich, lush soundscape through his performance, and Faulkner’s barely there playing on the drums adds so much in its own right to the whole.  Even Boone, in the equally subtle moments that he shines, adds to the whole, putting so much forward through his simple presentation.  While Brady states the record’s title track is the centerpiece, the fact of the matter is that the less is more approach taken by all involved here really makes this composition the true centerpiece.

Speaking of the record’s title track, the 13-minute-plus composition is still engaging and entertaining in its own right.  Right from the song’s outset, the flourishes that the group presents throw right back to those of Tyner, and Faulkner’s work on the drums is just as tight as that of Tyner in its frenetic approach.  The one main difference between the two renditions is that Tyner’s take is enhanced by a string arrangement that flows just as fluidly as the rest of the controlled chaos in the arrangement.  That string arrangement is not featured in the updated featured in Fly With The Wind.  Even without the strings, the collective’s take here is just as fiery in its energy and overall presentation even as it stays true to the original as much as it can.  It is just on more example of how much the covers that make up the set’s body have to offer audiences.  When they are considered along with the background that Brady offers through his liner notes, that collective content goes to make the set all the more engaging and entertaining.

The content that makes up the body of Fly With The Wind does much to make the collection worth hearing at least once, and it is not all that makes the record worth hearing.  The production puts the finishing touch to the record, bringing everything full circle.  The production is important because its impact is audible throughout the record.  Whether in the more energetic work of the record’s title track, the subtleties of ‘Naima’ or points in-between in the record’s other songs, the utmost work clearly went into bringing each song to its fullest.  The result is a collection that generates a positive general effect from beginning to end.  That positive general effect pairs with the appeal ensured through the content to make the record in whole a presentation that jazz fans and aficionados will find mostly enjoyable.

Fly With The Wind, the new compilation record from the Temple University jazz faculty, is a presentation from the musicians that will find appeal among plenty of jazz audiences.  That is proven in part through its liner notes.  The liner notes are important to note because of the groundwork that they lay for the listening experience.  The songs themselves provide their own positive because they live up to everything noted in the liner notes.  The record’s production ensures a positive general effect from beginning to end because of the attention clearly paid to each aspect of each song and balancing each item within each work.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered they make Fly With The Wind another positive addition to this year’s field of new compilations.

Fly With The Wind is available now.  More information on this and other titles from BCM+D Records is available at:

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