John David Simon | Phantasm

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Jazz: Mainstream Jazz Jazz: Hammond Organ Moods: Instrumental
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by John David Simon

Phantasm, John David Simon’s third CD album as a leader, boasts an impressive lineup with Pat Bianchi, Lewis Nash, John Hart and Andy Gravish. Simon shines, featuring his original compositions alongside a well-chosen variety of some of his favorite tunes.
Genre: Jazz: Mainstream Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. New Dawn
5:32 $0.99
2. Inside Out
6:03 $0.99
3. Squirrelly
8:25 $0.99
4. Peace
5:47 $0.99
5. Phantasm
6:15 $0.99
6. Black Diamond
7:12 $0.99
7. See-Saw
7:00 $0.99
8. Naima
7:03 $0.99
9. Inwood
7:10 $0.99
10. Up, Up and Away
6:35 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Album Liner Notes

I’m very pleased to present Phantasm, my third album as a leader. In addition to performing on saxophone and flute, my work as a composer, arranger and producer comes to light on this project. The overall concept of which the repertoire is equally divided between compositions I’m fond of and originals of mine. The alternating sequence of these allows the listener to hear my tunes side-by-side with our interpretations of some classic gems. Another consideration, the composition order is arranged much the same as if this were a live concert, mindful of contrasts in tempo, groove and mood. Like an artist who chooses paint from a palette, my color choices are heard through the array of instrumentation - trio, quartet, quintet, and sextet - each carefully matched and written for the respective composition in mind.

"New Dawn" is a tune I composed dedicated to my best friend and wife, Dawn. Although it might not sound very traditional at first, it’s actually based on a twelve bar blues with a bridge. Featuring the organ trio, listen closely to discover the underlying blues form with its fancy window dressing. Pat Bianchi and Lewis Nash are swinging hard right out of the gate.

Composed by the great guitarist Pat Martino, "Inside Out" recently became one of my favorite jazz tunes. While having the honor of working with Pat, this was one of the tunes we performed. He told me he wrote it with the tenor saxophone in mind and only performs it when one is present. The quartet handles this "adult groove" with guitarist John Hart capably handling Pat Martino’s part, while maintaining his own unique voice throughout.

"Squirrelly" is just like the title says! With an infectious beat stated in the intro, my 1960’s inspired boogaloo features the quintet, adding trumpeter Andy Gravish to the mix. Strong solos in the "Squirrelly" groove from John Hart, Pat Bianchi and Lewis Nash and winding down with a torrid exchange between myself and John Hart.

"Peace," the jazz classic written by Horace Silver is just what everyone needs after going "Squirrelly." Scaling down to the trio and incorporating my flute, we offer a very dramatic and welcome mood shift. Pat Bianchi contributes an exquisite solo in addition to his super sensitive ensemble performance here. Relax and feel "Peace."

The title track, "Phantasm," conjures up the quintet in an up-tempo original that I composed during my graduate study at Manhattan School of Music. Although this was some time ago, I recently wrote the arrangement specifically for this album. This piece is a challenge to execute, and the band rises to the occasion providing a performance that’s nothing less than stellar. Andy Gravish’s solo trumpet work grooves hard and John Hart delivers a burning solo, then we head out with an exchange between the soloists and the fiery drum work of Lewis Nash.

One stimulating aspect to being a jazz musician is in performing tunes that are off the beaten path, so to speak. "Black Diamond" is one such forgotten gem penned by pianist Milton Sealy. I discovered this obscure beauty on an album by Rashaan Roland Kirk, the only recording of it that I could find. We change the pace again, this time in waltz time with the nucleus, organ trio. Bianchi’s solo cooks up a spontaneous stew, seasoned with tasty melodious and harmonic spices throughout.

On my original, "See-Saw," we hear the sextet, the largest ensemble on this album. The object was to get as big a sound as I could through the three horn plus guitar voicings in this arrangement. Trombonist, Michael Boscarino comes aboard, beefs up the band and sets the pace with a rousing solo followed by myself, Andy and John Hart. My big band experience is brought front and center and this unit is hitting on all pistons. Hard to believe it’s only three horns!

After the rollicking effects of "See-Saw," we turn our attention to "Naima," John Coltrane’s gorgeous ballad and jazz standard. Slowing the pace and returning to trio format, we offer our interpretation focusing on the shear beauty and delicacy of this all-time classic.

"Inwood" is my original that I wrote during my days living in Inwood, a neighborhood in Northern Manhattan, New York City. At the time, my intention was to musically capture the feeling of this place, particularly Inwood Hill Park where I spent many an afternoon honing my craft. Adding my flute to the mix, the quartet featuring Andy Gravish on flugelhorn brings this cherished memory to life once again.

Throughout jazz history musicians have adopted popular songs, reworking them into jazz masterpieces. The quartet swings mightily in a deep pocket with guitarist John Hart on this familiar number by Jimmy Webb. What better way to end this figment of the imagination than to take you "Up, Up and Away!"

John David Simon – 2014



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