Monday, October 15, 2018

Canadian jazz icon and octogenarian Al Muirhead new release Undertones...pure jazz from a true legend

2016 JUNO-nominated trumpeter Al Muirhead is excited to present his most intriguing project to date; Undertones. Recorded in mid February 2018, the album features Muirhead on the rare bass trumpet with his new Canadian Quintet. The album highlights musicians he has admired over the years, including Canadian jazz heavyweights Kelly Jefferson (sax), Reg Schwager (guitar), Neil Swainson (bass) and Ted Warren (drums).

With a 70-year career in music, Muirhead is a true expert at what he does – and every time he steps on stage or into the studio, something special comes out of his horn. He is one of the few masters in the world on the rare bass trumpet, and Undertones showcases its mellow and deep tones. 

The album is a collection of standards that he and his quintet selected in studio, along with two tribute pieces composed by Muirhead. “A Tune For Cal” is a post-bop celebration for his late and eldest brother, a magnificent musician and one of Canada’s finest copyists. “Take It To The Bank Tom” pays homage to his life-long friend and collaborator, Tommy Banks, who passed away weeks before this recording.

1. A Tune For Cal 4:11 (Al Muirhead)
2.Rose Room 6:20 (Art Hickman & Harry Williams)
3.‘Deed I do 5:11 (Fred Rose & Walter Hirsch)
4.Tenderly 5:49 (Walter Gross & Jack Lawrence)
5. You’re My Everything 4:25 (Al Muirhead)
6.Take it to the Banks Tom! 5:18 (Al Muirhead)
7.Charade 5:05 (Henry Mancini & Johnny Mercer)
8.S’posin’ 4:03 (Paul Denniker & Andy Razaf)
9. I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You 4:28(Bing Crosby, Ned Washington & Victor Young)

10. Four Brothers 3:12 (Jimmy Giuffre)

Al Muirhead has long been an iconic figure on the Canadian jazz scene. And the trumpeter, composer, arranger, sideman and recording artist has been making listeners take notice for longer than jazz fans might realize. Born in Regina in 1935, he was playing in the Regina Symphony and dance bands by age 12. Muirhead began to take notice of greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Louis Armstrong. While Muirhead’s playing is infused with the indelible influence of the jazz giants, his flowing, melodic sound is his own — and has become influential in its own right. He unleashes melodies that are incredibly inventive and utterly timeless.

Muirhead has worked with legends such as Diana Krall, Paul Anka, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Mills and Dizzy Gillespie. 

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Marty's review: hearing jazz in its purest form is a sheer delight, and the senses are awakened and indulged on this new release from trumpeter Al Muirhead and his Canadian Quintet. The years have not aged this master and the musicianship is in top flight with textured and rhythmic compositions that soar with every note. Sophistication and style abound on this release which makes it an endlessly-playable album to wrap your ears around.