Sunday, November 27, 2011

Local guitarist experiences personal jazz revival

Excerpt from Dayton Daily News Jazz Beat writer Adam Alonzo: 12:06 PM Saturday, November 26, 2011

James Murrell records new CD “old-school,” with no overdubs.

Recording jazz is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle, because musicians never play a piece the same way twice. A successful recording must capture the essence of a spontaneous performance that can never be repeated.
Pursuing that elusive goal, a quintet of local jazz men recently met for a late-night studio session. Guitarist James Murrell is producing a new CD with the help of Hal Melia (saxophones), Brian Cashwell (keyboard), John Toedtman (bass) and Erik Aylesworth (drums).
The musicians faced each other in a large circle, the floor cluttered by microphone cables and sheet music. “We recorded live, with no overdubs, all in one room,” Murrell said. “A completely old-school jazz recording.”
The session began with “Alive & Kickin’ ,” a lively jam written by Murrell. Soloists passed the melody around with a glance or a nod, pointing to their heads when it was time to return to the first theme. Melia bobbed up and down and raised his arms while others took their solos.
The title of the CD is “Jazz Tent Revival,” which describes Murrell’s personal journey as a musician. “I’ve been trying to promote myself as a cross-over artist into the pop-rock genre for the last couple years and in the process of doing so I’ve lost my way,” he said. “I realized that I’m not a pop artist-singer. I’m a jazz guitarist.”
The band then recorded “Simple Solution,” another Murrell original with a slow tempo and complex melody. Between takes they planned solos and transitions, and made minor changes to the score. “The last note in bar 28 should be an e-flat,” Murrell said, making a correction to his chart.
While some takes were clearly discards, others possessed that indefinable cohesion that makes them worthy of keeping and sharing. Due to the straightforward recording techniques used, “Simple Solution” was available on Murrell’s website less than 24 hours later.
The complete CD will be released Dec. 1 at Jazz Central, where Murrell and his band will perform selections from the disc. “It will be a revival of me playing jazz again,” he said.
Adam Alonzo is a contributing writer for the Dayton Daily News. He can be reached by email at
How to go
What: James Murrell’s CD-release party
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1
Where: Jazz Central, 2931 E. Third St., Dayton
Cost: $3
More info: (937) 254-8130 or www.jamesmurrell

Monday, November 21, 2011

Way too long but plenty of good jazz...

I knew that it had been a while since I had posted observations from the field, had no idea it had been over four months. No matter I guess, here is the latest - just heard Josh and Adrienne Hindmarsh down at Jazz Central, out on East Third and to say the least, they were fantastic - if you were not there you missed a great concert. Josh Hindmarsh has always been a tremendously talented jazz guitar player, ever since I heard him several years ago and he has gotten even better, hard to believe. Adrienne Hindmarsh plays B3 so well that Dayton area B3 players show up to hear her tear it up. She did not disappoint. They also pack as many songs into a set as possible, little chit chat, LOTS of music. They have three CDs out and the latest is entitled Blue Skies as a tribute to jazz standards, and what a tribute. They are joined by Columbus area drummer extraordinaire, Jim Rupp, excellent in his own right. They kept an appreciative crowd attentive all night long and whoopin' and hollerin' after many songs played. They did not do Route 66, a song on their Blue Skies CD but I saw them bring a packed house down at the Tuesday night jazz jam at Park Street Tavern in Columbus one night. The drummer who played with them was spot on all night, he never missed a beat. You would have thought he traveled around the World with them but no, just another fantastic Columbus drummer who goes by the name of The Governor. The trio was simply out of sight all night long. If you weren't there you missed a good one.

The very next night I was back at Jazz Central again for the weekly jazz jam, the place was crowded, the jazz was good and it sure seemed like a good time was had by all. Hats off to John Hampton Wagner, trumpet & emcee; Ron Applebury, bass; Kenny Baccus, B3 organ, Henry Miles Preston, drums; Cliff Darrett, latin percussion and congas; Jeff Slinker, guitar; Ahmad Abdullah, congas; a young trumpet player who's name escapes me but has been showing up on a fairly regular basis; Rodderick Wilson, trumpet; and sort of a guest artist who plays from time-to-time, Cameron Voorhees, who plays a fantastic jazz guitar and kept things lively all night. Thanks to Butch Stone for helping keep jazz going in the Dayton area at Jazz Central.