John Temmerman Releases “Live in Evanston – John’S Mixed Bag”
Multi-reedist and Skokie, IL native John Temmerman’s new recording, Live in Evanston - John's Mixed Bag captures his band in live quartet and quintet performances from 2007 and 2008. “It's a live recording, which is a first for me… Probably the last,” he says drolly in his characteristic dry manner. “I've learned that live recordings are much more involved than studio recordings.”
Live in Evanston - John's Mixed Bag is an amalgamation of original compositions; jazz classics by Horace Silver (“Sister Sadie“) Eddie Harris (“Freedom Jazz Dance“) Oliver Nelson (“Stolen Moments“); 1960’s pop tunes The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” and “Spooky” by The Classics IV and the gospel chestnut “Just A Closer Walk With Thee.” “I think there’s more variety in the repertoire for this recording, a combination of inside, outside styles. I also play soprano on three cuts. My last recording was tenor only.” says Temmerman.
The recording recalls the classic “Blue Note” recording on the 1960’s and features Temmerman on tenor and soprano sax; guitarist Neal Alger; bassist Steven Hashimoto; drummers Rusty Jones and Steve Magnone; and trumpeter Steve Thomas on “Sister Sadie” and “Blue Moon.”
“My friend Steve Thomas is a close college friend. We hadn’t played together since then until recently. Now, I usually invite him to sit in with me on the Custer stage, so I asked him if was up for it. He’s into 60’s post-bop."
Although The Beatles songbook has long been a source of inspiration for many jazz players, The Classics IV is a group that doesn’t immediately come to mind when you think of pop tunes in a jazz context. “I’ve always loved ‘Spooky.’ It’s not a new concept; like taking a Rodgers & Hart tune. I’d like to do ‘Golden Slumbers’ one day. ‘Norwegian Wood’ was inspired by a Buddy Rich version that I played in high school. To me, as long as the primary intention is artistic expression, anything is fair game. You have to put your own spin on it."
Speaking of his “own spin” Temmerman features four original compositions on Live in Evanston – John’s Mixed Bag. “Plan B Downsized” is a streamlined version of the composition originally featured on his first CD, The Power Of Two. “I cut the song form in half but it still has the same elements. The piece was an idea that had been floating around my head since the mid-70’s, but it was not until the late 90’s that I had the chops to play what I was hearing in my head.”
“Aging Dream” was inspired by saxophonist Gerry Mulligan. “This was a head I wrote over the chord from ‘Maytag’ by Gerry Mulligan, recorded on his incredible Age of Steam album, which I received as a graduation gift in 1973. It‘s a song I have always loved from an album I've always loved, “says Temmerman. “I reconnected with the album a few years ago. Someone had seen a review I did on the album and emailed me that a tribute to Mulligan video was bundled with the CD. “So I worked out the chords, while checking against Mulligan's own lead sheets and wrote a head over it. I selected the title because the clock is ticking on my dream of expressing myself as a jazz artist. It's a signal that I have lots of music left in me and a not-infinite amount of time to get it out.”
Grover Washington, Jr. inspired “Fundamental Dreamer.” “I enjoy his big sound on tenor, his warm sound on soprano and his versatility among styles and instruments. I had originally recorded this in 2001, but kept it off the Power of Two CD because I wasn't happy with it. I was thrilled for the opportunity to record it again.”
“Sooner or Later “evolved from “an unnamed blues head I wrote for the 2008 set. I announced it as untitled and said that we'd come up with a title sooner or later. Steve Magnone, the drummer on the 2008 set, thought that would be a good name.”
You’re as liable to see Temmerman playing soprano in Chapel on Wednesday morning with the Gospel Choir at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Lutheran Center as on the bandstand of a jazz club. “Playing with the Lutheran Center Gospel Choir is a joy. I enjoy interpreting hymns. ‘Just A Closer Walk With Thee’ (featured on Mixed Bag) is an example. For me, the purpose of music is to glorify God. God gave me a need to perform and teach music. I went along with that, even though I denied it for a while. “ He is firmly grounded in his family, his faith and unapologetically places both above music. “I have my wife, who suffers from FSH Dystrophy to care for and have to be closer to home than some musicians.”
Temmerman’s Live in Evanston - John's Mixed Bag is a swinging, exuberant and solid recording that exhibits why mainstream jazz prevails in spite of fads, the economics of the recording industry and the loss of many of its originators.
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