Nick Marchione, Bruce Harris - Trumpets
Robert Edwards, James Burton III - Trombones
Sam Dillon - Tenor Saxophone/Clarinet
Frank Basile - Baritone Saxophone/Bass Clarinet
Mike Karn - Bass
Charles Ruggiero - Drums
Special Guest Slide Hampton - Trombone (Slide’s Blues & Mack The Knife)
In early 2015, Frank Basile called me and told me that he had transcribed some of Slide Hampton’s Octet music and wanted to know if I’d be interested in coming down to the musicians union to read through some of the charts. He had labored over them and wanted to “check his work.” I jumped at the chance. My father Vinnie had been the drummer on the majority of The Octet's recordings, and Slide’s music and the performances of that band played a major role in my development as a musician.
At that first run through, we started with the song Exodus, and I literally started to tear up right there in Local 802. The first half of the song is an exquisitely orchestrated feature for the horns. And while sitting there listening, preparing for my entrance, I thought of how many times my father had sat at the ready, like I was then, listening to such beauty. I never felt more connected to him than I did in that moment.
It was always amazing to me that Slide was able to construct such a huge sounding band using just six horns, bass and drums. I remember being blown away when I learned the band was 8 pieces and not 17! (What has become equally impressive to me is that Frank was able to deconstruct that sound and transcribe all of that music from the original recordings.)
After we finished that first rehearsal, I asked Frank why he took the time to transcribe all that music. He kind of chuckled and said “just to see if I could.” Frank is an immensely talented baritone saxophonist playing with The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, The Count Basie Orchestra, The Jimmy Heath Big Band, and countless others, but he has also gained a reputation of have one of the finest set of ears in the business. Now I know why. What he's done here is a great service: He's given us and future generations the ability to keep playing Slide's music. Because what most people don't know is, sadly, in a freak accident Slide lost all of the original hand-written charts. Consequently, these arrangements haven't been performed in over 50 years. So thank you Frank, and thank YOU Slide!
I first had the privilege of working with and getting to know Slide Hampton in 2006 as a member of the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band. At that time, Slide was the band's conductor and frontman. I had always known Slide's place as a member of jazz royalty had been cemented long ago, but being there with him first-hand brought into sharp focus what a true genius he is. His conducting, his trombone playing, and his arranging set the standard for countless musicians to strive for, however futile a task that may be. (Thank you, Slide!)
The first recording of Slide's octet that I heard was "Explosion!" I was an instant fan. "Wow, I'd love to play this music someday," I thought. The arrangements were so beautiful and exciting, that I had the idea to transcribe some of them to try to learn about some of the arranging techniques Slide employed. After I'd transcribed a few, I organized some reading sessions. With the help of Charles Ruggiero and Douglas Purviance, and the blessing of Slide himself, we've been able to resurrect this great music.
We hope you enjoy this recording. But most of all, we hope that it will act as a gateway for you to check out Slide's original octet records (8 in all) as well as Slide's entire vast, amazing body of work.
If you'd like to listen to, or find out more about this album - including how to get it, click the link below...
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