Dennis Lichtman | Just Cross the River

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Just Cross the River

by Dennis Lichtman

A celebration of jazz in the borough of Queens, NY, 1923-present - from Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller to today's progenitors of classic jazz in Queens.
Genre: Jazz: Traditional Jazz Combo
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. 7 Express
2:33 $0.99
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2. For Bix
3:51 $0.99
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3. Midnight at the Piers
4:50 $0.99
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4. Road Street Court Place Avenue Drive
4:44 $0.99
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5. Someday You'll Be Sorry
3:55 $0.99
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6. Waltz for Camila
3:29 $0.99
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7. L.I.C. Strut
4:33 $0.99
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8. Just Cross the River from Queens
2:41 $0.99
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9. Blue Turning Grey over You
4:02 $0.99
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10. 23rd Between 23rd and 23rd
3:46 $0.99
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11. Squeeze Me
3:59 $0.99
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12. The Power of Not Then
4:42 $0.99
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13. I'd Remember Having Met You
4:10 $0.99
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14. Cake Walking Babies from Home
2:22 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Clarinetist Dennis Lichtman set out to pay tribute to the unglamorous New York City borough of Queens, where he has lived for 10 years. As it happens, Queens was home to more jazz legends in the golden age of the music (1920's to 1940's) than any other place. Lichtman won a grant from the Queens Council on the Arts and set about composing tunes inspired by Queens and its jazz heritage, as well as creating new arrangements of songs associated with Queens jazz legends (Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, and many more).

Dennis Lichtman – clarinet
Dalton Ridenhour – piano
Gordon Au – trumpet
J. Walter Hawkes – trombone
Rob Garcia – drums
Nathan Peck – bass

Plus:
Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton – vocals (8, 14) guitar (8)
Mazz Swift – violin (3, 4, 5) vocals (5)
Terry Wilson – vocals (9, 11)
Nick Russo – guitar (10, 12)


The following is an except from the liner notes, written by Ricky Riccardi (author of the bestselling "What A Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong's Later Years").

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Quick! Name the place that was home to more jazz legends than any other during the “golden age” of the music? Harlem? Chicago? New Orleans?

All good guesses, but all wrong. The answer would be Queens, New York. This might come as a surprise since Queens (the largest of the five boroughs of New York City) has never had much of a live jazz scene, even in the golden age. But that’s just the thing: jazz musicians are also human beings and Queens gave many of them--especially African-Americans--a chance to have regular lives away from the busy Manhattan scene, and an affordable little plot of land to call their own, maybe with a backyard or a basement. Location was perfect, too: only 30 minutes from Manhattan and right near the two major New York airports.

Legend has it that pianist Clarence Williams and his wife, vocalist Eva Taylor, were the first jazz musicians to move to Queens back in 1923, the wide open spaces of Jamaica reminding Williams of his original Louisiana home. Bix Beiderbecke followed, passing away at the tragically young age of 28 in his apartment in Sunnyside. Many of the major big band leaders of the Swing Era called Queens home at some point, including Count Basie (Addisleigh Park), Woody Herman (Forest Hills) and Glenn Miller (Flushing), not to mention legendary pianists Fats Waller (Addisleigh Park) and James P. Johnson (Hollis), trumpeters Roy Eldridge (Hollis), Clark Terry (Corona), Charlie Shavers (Corona) and Buck Clayton (Flushing) and singers Ella Fitzgerald (Addisleigh Park), Jimmy Rushing (Corona) and Billie Holiday (Jamaica). Ragtime giant Scott Joplin was buried in East Elmhurst in 1917 but had lived in Manhattan.

Thus, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the most famous jazz musician of them all, Louis Armstrong, also lived happily in Queens, moving there in 1943 with his fourth wife Lucille and spending the remaining 28 years of his life in a modest home in the working-class neighborhood of Corona. “I’m here with the Black people, the Puerto Rican people, the Italian people and Hebrew cats and there’s food in the Fridgidaire,” Armstrong wrote of his community. “What else could I want?”

Today, Armstrong’s home is the site of the Louis Armstrong House Museum, visited by thousands of people each year, many of whom express surprise when learning about the number of jazz musicians who called Queens home--and in 2017, are still calling Queens home.

Chief among them is clarinetist Dennis Lichtman, one of the busiest musicians on the increasingly popular “hot jazz” scene thanks to his role as the ringleader of the music’s most popular weekly jam session, at Mona’s in the East Village. Though Lichtman performs all over New York--and around the world with a variety of artists--he feels a kinship to Queens, where he has lived for over a decade.

In 2015, Lichtman wanted to pay tribute to the rich heritage of jazz musicians living in Queens and applied for a grant through the Queens Council of the Arts. The terms of the grant stipulated that Lichtman would write original compositions inspired by Queens and contribute new arrangements of songs associated with some of the borough’s biggest jazz stars, eventually performing all of the material in a concert setting.

Lichtman went to work on the material, put together a top-notch band--the Queensboro Six--of musicians currently living in or originally from Queens and secured the Louis Armstrong House Museum as the site for what became known as “Queens Jazz: A Living Tradition.” The concert was held on August 29, 2015 and was undeniably one of the most memorable afternoons of music to ever take place in the garden of the Armstrong House. Hundreds of people packed the garden, creating a buzz that lasted long after the final notes dissipated.

As a one-time event, “Queens Jazz: A Living Tradition” was a smashing success and it was agreed that Lichtman needed to document the music he and his group created for posterity. The result is this brand new album and as someone who attended the Armstrong House concert, I can attest that it has completely captured the magic of that day, and then some.

Lichtman managed to wrangle the same star-studded edition of the Queensboro Six, an assemblage of talent worthy of celebrating no matter their background. Like Lichtman, trombonist J. Walter Hawkes also calls the neighborhood of Long Island City his home (he also frequently uses Lichtman on the soundtrack of the popular PBS cartoon Peg + Cat, of which Hawkes is the Emmy-award-winning musical director). Pianist Dalton Ridenhour and bassist Nathan Peck are not only responsible for the hard-charging swing of the rhythm section but they both also currently live in Astoria (maybe there’s something in the water there). An asterisk should be placed next to the names of trumpeter Gordon Au and drummer Rob Garcia as both currently live in Brooklyn, but Au did at least live in Ridgewood, Queens in recent years (Garcia never did--BOOOOO). They’re undoubtedly outstanding musicians, so Lichtman has generously allowed them to stay onboard.
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