Craig Fraedrich | Out of the Blues

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Out of the Blues

by Craig Fraedrich

Jazz trumpeter Craig Fraedrich leads a group of 5 trumpets and rhythm section on this ultra-high energy romp. The musicians on this album had been playing together for 10 - 20+ years prior to the recording and it definitely shows here!
Genre: Jazz: Hard Bop
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  Song Share Time Download
1. A Minor Matter (feat. Mark Wood, Ken McGee, Graham Breedlove, Kenny Rittenhouse, Jim Roberts, Tony Nalker, Regan Brough & Steve Fidyk)
8:57 $0.99
2. Shades of Blue (feat. Mark Wood, Ken McGee, Graham Breedlove, Kenny Rittenhouse, Jim Roberts, Tony Nalker, Regan Brough & Steve Fidyk)
6:37 $0.99
3. Bugablue (feat. Mark Wood, Ken McGee, Graham Breedlove, Kenny Rittenhouse, Jim Roberts, Tony Nalker, Regan Brough & Steve Fidyk)
7:55 $0.99
4. Never Let Me Go (feat. Mark Wood, Ken McGee, Graham Breedlove, Kenny Rittenhouse, Jim Roberts, Tony Nalker, Regan Brough & Steve Fidyk)
4:45 $0.99
5. Rsvp (feat. Mark Wood, Ken McGee, Graham Breedlove, Kenny Rittenhouse, Jim Roberts, Tony Nalker, Regan Brough & Steve Fidyk)
6:44 $0.99
6. Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child (feat. Mark Wood, Ken McGee, Graham Breedlove, Kenny Rittenhouse, Jim Roberts, Tony Nalker, Regan Brough & Steve Fidyk)
6:55 $0.99
7. Giant Steps (feat. Mark Wood, Ken McGee, Graham Breedlove, Kenny Rittenhouse, Jim Roberts, Tony Nalker, Regan Brough & Steve Fidyk)
6:14 $0.99
8. Missing You (feat. Mark Wood, Ken McGee, Graham Breedlove, Kenny Rittenhouse, Jim Roberts, Tony Nalker, Regan Brough & Steve Fidyk)
4:59 $0.99
9. I'll See You on a B-Flat Blues! (feat. Mark Wood, Ken McGee, Graham Breedlove, Kenny Rittenhouse, Jim Roberts, Tony Nalker, Regan Brough & Steve Fidyk)
5:55 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Out of the Blues

The great German philosopher, Von Goethe said: “I call architecture frozen music.” In a similar way this recording reminds me of a marvelously engineered building – a touch-the-rarest-air skyscraper that draws eyes, stimulates senses, and provides a manifestation of strength, elegance, design and, above all, teamwork. That’s my take. I hope that your ear and mind’s eye just might sense the same.

This is a very virile, dare I say, muscular, effort. A team of dedicated men working to leave it all on the studio floor to construct an album which superbly honors the old, embraces the new, and solidifies their future. It is hard, straight ahead jazz offering heaps of no-frills kick-ass brass and stellar composition and arranging. It is the type of set-up – trumpets exclusively and rhythm section – that I haven’t heard in a very long while. It’s strong and reassuring stuff.

Now Craig Fraedrich tells me that he is a man who likes word-play – double entendres and snowclones (“Got Blues?”). The album’s title is an example of the former, referencing Fraedrich’s recent retirement after 31 celebrated and swinging years performing with the elite “U. S. Army Blues.” (The other artists here are also current or former “Blues” brothers). If you think about it in that wordy-gurdy context, so are some of the other selection titles. Honestly, I think Fraedrich is pulling one over on us with this album’s title. I’d wager a month’s Army pay (not much in my day) that the music here both structured and improvised, is not only an au revoir, but it salutes the art form’s life source, its “Blues Juice.”

The performance here is fueled with palpable passion and drive. The playing across the board is not only technically outstanding, but, lathered up with energized focus and love for what this crew is doing. These are dangerous men. They mean business. These guys don’t play trumpets; they play flamethrowers. You’ll hear that throughout. Even the orphan’s cry, “Motherless Child” and the yearning “Never Let Me Go” have restrained emotional furor.

I’d go on record as stating that the average listener – and, for that matter, the fact you’re reading this places you far outside that category – approaches their music subject with significant passivity. In some cases, that renders the artists’ efforts as “background stimulus.” That’s not going to be the case here. You’re going to be drawn in to a jazz trap with little hope of escape and you won’t want to. You’re going to get a hard musical right hook, right to the chin and be musically KO’d. Enjoy looking at this skyscraper from your spot on the canvas.

A Minor Matter
This near nine-minute kickoff is anything but. It’s a burner that shades classics “Milestones” and “Seven Steps to Heaven.” Count ‘em: 1-2-3-4 … 5! – as formidable and virile a melodic line as it gets. Trumpeter Kenny Rittenhouse, guitarist Jim Roberts and leader Fraedrich each blow exquisitely across the modal changes. The rhythm section here nudges and prods with a white-hot stick and, the trumpet ensemble - precision personified - is fierce and facile. The intensity simply never lets up across this track. This is a matter for flame-retardant. The arrangement is superb, intelligent, and replete with surprise.

Shades of Blue

Superbly elegant intro as the melody rendered up rubato by pianist Tony Nalker before germinating into a cascade. This highly-textured 3/4 piece is reminiscent of those classic Oliver Nelson “Abstract Truth” sessions. It’s highly percussive (dig drummer Steve Fidyk’s set work here). Melody has surprising leaps and response with momentum. Nalker solos conversing with Regan Brough’s vamping bass and Fidyk’s fidgeting. Fraedrich solos dancing across the upper register, setting up a screaming ensemble under Mark Wood’s altissimo leadership here (he and Ken McGee split lead marvelously throughout the date). Drummer Fidyk uses his set for all it’s worth and the take-out has Fraedrich testifying over layers of activity below.


The ensemble screams the intro before Fraedrich, Kenny Rittenhouse and Jim Roberts state the lengthy “throwback” melody – one that channels Lee Morgan’s “Sidewinder.” It’s classic Hard Bop boogaloo blue. The trumpets wail call and response and Ken McGee’s precision in the upper register is uncanny. The “B3” addition – actually Roberts' guitar effect - behind Kenny Rittenhouse’s soul stirring adds to the funk fest. Fraedrich takes over solo reins as Nalker comps and pumps on the pipes. The ensemble choir rocks to and fro behind the testimony. Fidyk and the rhythm team help build things to a hear-it-down-the-block-‘cause-the-church-windows-are-opened ensemble finale. Tight and terrific.

Never Let Me Go

Fraedrich employs his balladic style on this tune, a must-have in the jazz musician’s rep. It was written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans for the film noir, “The Scarlet Hour.” The Fraedrich presentation here eschews dark and is big, bold and reminiscent of those brass-drenched Stan Kenton classic ballad charts. Fraedrich’s tone is inviting, sensitive and thoroughly honest. The up-tempo segment has the leader’s trumpet scampering over the changes with flair as the ensemble’s Harmons call in the distance before guitarist Roberts joins the parade in unison. The ballad format returns with the soloist embracing and celebrating the ensemble’s final grasp.


You’re invited to see the gates open and hear these brass thoroughbreds speed off for miles on this Hard Bop modal message - actually a contrafact of jazz workhorse, “Invitation.” The melody doubling Roberts’ guitar builds things back up to restate and reaffirm it. Graham Breedlove then gladly takes the pole-position and spins line after scalar line in front of the action. The ensemble offers contrapuntal lines before Fraedrich jumps in to state things his way. Blazing on unfettered, the rhythm section whips ahead with Fidyk drawing Fourth of July fireworks from his set before all bring things to climax.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child

A penetrating “Where are you?” motif launches this haunting melody of abandonment and despair. The presentation here is faithful those essences throughout. The tempo is moderate faux-Latin but retains the grief tone of the original spiritual. Fraedrich’s lush flugel explores the melody and then rides on. He’s vibratoless, as well as orphaned. The trumpet ensemble sustains as Nalker and bassist Regan Brough render the motif. The ensemble soli soars and Fidyk rages over the three-note figure. The arrangement builds to a dramatic end with Fraedrich’s flugel crying.

Giant Steps

The Coltrane workhorse is one of those Everests that jazz artists fervently believe just has to be undertaken and conquered. The arrangement steps off with a five-step idea before Fraedrich takes charge blowing a soloing Harmon over piano and guitar melody comps. The ensemble enters and renders the classic melody forcefully. Graham Breedlove grabs horn and makes minced meat of the changes with lengthy ribbons peppered with superb ideas. Rittenhouse, also up for the challenge, dives in for a feverish ride. The ensemble doubled with Roberts’ guitar takes this assault out and up to a towering and breathless musical summit. Get the flags ready.

Missing You

A handful of ensemble pops and Fraedrich’s lush flugel kicks off this very engaging Samba which shades Booker Ervin’s “Saudade”/aka ”Booker’s Blues.” As the unit offers precision punches, he flits and flies with trapeze-like grace and ease over the flowing and somewhat vaguely familiar changes. The guy’s in total command improvisationally and even interjects a wry “Woody Woodpecker” theme quote up for his eponymous lead man. Drummer Fidyk drives all hard here and the momentum he creates is contagious. Roberts stretches out for a bit and the ensemble socks behind the front man. Hearing this selection, I sense that Fraedrich has immersed himself in the offerings of the great Guido Basso and Rob McConnell’s “Boss Brass.”

I’ll See You in a Bb Blues

This is a “Fox Hunt” speedball of the first order - and what a cooker for the closer! Breedlove and Fraedrich duet it up on the Bop-ish melody and then take off on a careening chase through their respective solo choruses. Stop time breaks only add to the fever pitch of this game of tones. The ensemble is in heat throughout and the rhythm section gleefully throws gas on the two gassers. A “toot hoot,” for sure this one.

Nick Mondello,
Big Toots Enterprises
Locust Valley, New York



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