Beaux J Poo Boo is a recently formed jazz quartet staffed by four renowned music educators. Named for the composition "Beaux J Poo Boo" by Les McCann, the quartet turns out some very sophisticated mainstream jazz.
Utilizing the same quartet format of piano, guitar, bass and drums as McCann's 1965 album, the new outfit offers a nice program of lesser known jazz titles and some sparkling originals by members of the band. Let's take a moment to introduce the players.
Shelly Berg is a professor at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. The pianist is also a past president of the IAJE (International Association of Jazz Educators). He has performed with Lorraine Feather, Patti Austin, Tierney Sutton and Bill Watrous among many others. His recent CD, Blackbird
for Concord Jazz, rated highly in North American airplay.
Guitarist Fred Hamilton is a professor of jazz studies at the University of North Texas. Hamilton is a multi-instrumentalist and has played guitar or bass with a number of jazz luminaries including James Moody, Mike Stern, Joe Lovano, Kenny Wheeler and Cedar Walton. Within the group Brahma, he plays dobro, guitar, Hindustani slide-guitar and banjo.
Bassist Lou Fischer teaches theory, arranging and jazz bass at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. With four decades in the music industry, Fischer has recorded some two thousand commercials and performed in fifty Broadway Shows. As a bandleader, he has released four albums. Fischer toured widely with such folks as Tony Bennett, Red Rodney, The Crusaders, Charlie Byrd, Woody Herman and Louis Bellson.
Drummer Steve Houghton is an associate professor at Indiana University-Bloomington and on the faculty of the Henry Mancini Institute. Houghton has shared stage and studio with Freddie Hubbard, Karrin Allyson, Arturo Sandoval, Joe Henderson, Toots Thielemans, Toshiko Akiyoshi and Pat La Barbara.
The new quartet has a gentle, sophisticated sound that is warm but never dull. Guitarist Fred Hamilton contributed the title piece, "All Things Are New," the sprightly "Dancing With the Monk" and "Hosanna." Lou Fischer penned the haunting "Scintilla." Shelly Berg offers two fine compositions, "Go With Godfrey" and my absolute favorite "Tooth," written for Frank Mantooth. "Tooth" features some wonderful meanderings by Shelly Berg and bassist Lou Fischer. The opening tune, "Ferris Wheel," by Rick Margitza is another winner. It begins with a festive, almost childlike melody and mushrooms into a complex reading by Shelly Berg and the quartet. Obviously, Les McCann's gospel tinged "Beaux J Poo Boo" gets a feature spot. The quartet delivers McCann's composition with style and makes it a true tribute to the veteran keyboardist. Like the composer's original Limelight release, it's full of joy.
While the label's web page doesn't offer sound samples, readers can hear them at CD Universe. Five bright stars!