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Friends And Mentors by Mel Martin and Bebop & Beyond

Friends and Masters is another in a series of recordings made with his group Bebop & Beyond. Over the years this group has changed, but the spirit of the music remains intact.

A dedication to McCoy Tyner Song For M is a straight ahead vehicle for some fine blowing from Mel’s sax and Jack Walrath’s trumpet. One of the most under rated sax players around Bobby Watson is also featured.

The gentle keys of George Cables along with smooth sax work introduce this heartfelt ballad For Duke And Mingus. Billy Hart’s rolling toms and cascading cymbal work blend in nicely with the ensemble playing from the horns. This piece was written around the time that Duke Ellington passed away. The sense of loss is evident throughout this passionate arrangement.

A previous recording from Bebop & Beyond was to be the last studio date for Dizzy Gillespie. In Walked Diz captures the spirit of Gillespie through the brilliant playing of Jack Walrath. Watson’s sax floats throughout. A road warrior of sorts his focused chops add greatly to this number. Longo’s liquid playing and rolling notes are a welcome contribution.

You’ve heard of The Minute Waltz? Well here is From Pops To Bop, a capsule history of Jazz from Armstrong to the present. A Bluesy intro featuring the ensemble morphs into scintillating solos from Martin and Watson. Ray Drummond is the anchor throughout holding down the fort with some creative strumming. Other notables include Walrath’s trumpet, and effective piano chords from veteran George Cables.

Martin continues a trend started years ago with his Bebop and Beyond project. Bring in the best, create an environment to express, and run with it. This unit is cohesive with a wealth of experience from these talented artists. Martin’s writing and arranging are first rate. Let’s hope that more projects are forthcoming. One of his finest recordings in years.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Mel Martin and Bebop & Beyond
  • CD Title: Friends And Mentors
  • Genre: BeBop / Hard Bop
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Quixotic Records
  • Tracks: Song For M, Music Is, Whizbang, For Duke And Mingus, Riding With C, In Walked Diz, Longhorn, From Pops To Bop, Hub-trane
  • Musicians: Mel Martin (Tenor & Soprano Sax), Bobby Watson (Alto Sax), Jack Walrath (Trumpet), Mike Longo (Piano), George Cables (Piano), Ray Drummond (Bass), Winard Harper (Drums), Billy Hart (Drums)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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