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PT Gazell | A Madness to the Method

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Jazz: Retro Swing Jazz: Traditional Jazz Combo Moods: Instrumental
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A Madness to the Method

by PT Gazell

Swingin', smooth, lyrical, jazz standards and American Songbook selections played on diatonic harmonica.
Genre: Jazz: Retro Swing
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Kitty
5:27 $0.99
2. This Can't Be Love
3:49 $0.99
3. I Remember Clifford
3:47 $0.99
4. A Smooth One
3:53 $0.99
5. All Too Soon
4:42 $0.99
6. Reet Petite & Gone
3:25 $0.99
7. I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)
3:35 $0.99
8. If I Had You
4:03 $0.99
9. Boogie Woogie Blue Plate
2:36 $0.99
10. Here There & Everywhere
2:31 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The Concept

Over the last several years I've wanted to record a project that featured the interaction between my harmonica style and a 6 string lap steel guitar. I wanted that interaction to center around unison playing but be voiced an octave apart where possible.

I got the idea from listening to jazz greats like Ben Webster, Sweets Edison and Louis Jordan who used to do this sort of thing quite a bit. The timbre of their sax and trumpet played in this manner was really unique. I chose the lap steel as my counterpoint because it closely emulates the harmonica in how the notes are attacked and accented. To make this happen I called on Grammy Award Winner Rob Ickes to play lap steel.

The Music

The 10 songs on this CD are all special to me. Most of them have been part of my live performances for the past several years. I'm excited to finally make them part of my discography. Here are a few of the highlights:

"Reet Petite & Gone" and "Boogie Woogie Blue Plate" are two Louis Jordan tunes that I wanted to record from the first time I heard them. I also liked the idea of having the harmonica and lap steel emulate the horn section from the original recordings.

"Here There & Everywhere" is simply one of my favorite Beatles' compositions. McCartney has been quoted as saying it's his favorite. I did my own octave voicing on this one. Rob voiced all the classic ooh's and ahh's on lap steel.

"A Smooth One" by Benny Goodman and "Kitty" by Sweets Edison are two more examples of songs that just work for this concept. Again, a real section sort of feel...

"All Too Soon" & "I Remember Clifford" are classic ballads. I love the starkness and beauty of both these melodies and the open feel of these tracks.

The Musicians

I had two of my favorite players on the back line: Roger Spencer on bass, and Chris Brown on drums. Both of these cats are so solid and incredibly musical that everything else just fell into place!

The guitar chair was occupied by none other than Pat Bergeson. What Pat played was outstanding. It's tasty and played in all the right spots. Check out his brilliant work on "I Remember Clifford" and "All Too Soon."

As I noted earlier, I called on lap steel ace Rob Ickes for 7 of the tracks. Rob is mostly known for his outstanding dobro work, but wait till you hear him on 6 string lap steel.

PT Gazell



to write a review

Slim Heilpern

Beuatifully played and recorded!
I've just had the pleasure of listening (several times) to PT Gazell's latest album "A Madness To The Method". Like all of PT's recent albums, it's beautifully played and recorded and shows off PT's unique style and technique playing his Gazell method half-valved diatonic harps.

I was struck from the opening notes of the Harry Sweets Edison tune "Kitty" by the infectious originality of PT's concept for this album and that feeling didn't subside all the way through the final cut (that classic Beatles song "Here, There and Everywhere").

Those who are familiar with PT's previous work already know that when he swings, he swings hard and when he plays a jazz ballad, it's sheer soulful bliss. All of which remain true on "Madness". He also has a talent for choosing the perfect musicians to help put across what he has to say (and he always has something to say on his axe).

On this session, Rob Ickes, well known for his dobro work, plays lap steel with a strikingly beautiful and fat tone -- often playing octave or unison lines along with PT's harmonica, brilliantly executed.

The guitarist Pat Bergeson (also an excellent harmonica player, btw) is perfect on these tracks. His guitar solos are sublime on "This Can't Be Love" and "All Too Soon" and his supportive playing on all of the tracks is superb -- such tasty jazz voicings!

Double bassist Roger Spencer's playing is solid throughout with a beautiful tone and really shines when trading fours with PT on "This Can't Be Love".

Chris Brown on the drums rounds out this top tier rhythm section and keeps it all swingin' beautifully.

There are some wonderful song selections here, including a couple of swingin' Louis Jordan tunes (which also feature PT singing!), the beautiful Benny Golson jazz ballad "I Remember Clifford", done here as a harmonica and guitar duet, and the classic Benny Goodman / Charlie Christian riff tune "A Smooth One".

All in all, this brilliant, upbeat, swinging, and beautifully executed work is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Not to be missed.

Rob Paparozzi

The Groove is Deep
PT Gazell was playing and making records many years before he perfected his own method that expanded the Chromatic capabilities of this tiny instrument without adding a button for sharps and flats.
In 2005, his “Swingin Easy..Hittin’ Hard” and later followed by “2 Days Out” laid the groundwork for the mastery of his method for jazz on a diatonic harmonica”. His latest CD,
“A Madness to the Method” is a masterpiece not only for harmonica players but jazz and music loving folks. Here’s what you get:

Kitty – a bouncy minor groove by jazz trumpeter Harry “Sweets” Edison. You don’t often hear harmonica & lap steel guitar playing in unison. But the blend feels like they were made for each other… it just works.

This Can’t be Love – a classic swing from the Rodgers and Hart songbook and SWING it does. A nicely uncluttered arrangement and features some sweet soloing by Pat Bergeson on Guitar and PT’s smooth harpin’. Trading some fours with the Roger Spencer’s upright Bass lets him join in the fun.

I Remember Clifford – PT handles this gorgeous Benny Golson melody with delicate care by playing it as a Guitar/Harmonica Duet. Although a tribute is being paid here to the late Trumpeter Clifford Brown, PT’s phrasing & approach reminds us of Miles Davis’ horn or Golson’s sax, but adds his own space as well. Bergeson’s Guitar is the ultimate exquisite support.

A Smooth One – PT gets back to the lap steel and harp blend and you can almost here PT channeling some Goodman Clarinet on his smooth bluesy upper register bends.

All Too Soon – nice choose of a lesser known Duke song for PT’s harpoon, and the quartet keeps it simple but classy in it’s reading. So much Blues found in Ellington’s melodies, what’s not to love!

Reet Petite & Gone – always a wise choice to include some “Rhythm Changes” on a jazz outing, but it’s icing on the cake when it’s a Louis Jordan tune with some real hip words! I never heard PT sing before and as a singer myself I am quite impressed with his delivery here. What’s cool structurally about this tune is it starts as a boogie woogie blues then transitions into the ‘rhythm changes’ when the vocal enters.

I’m Confession that I love You – a solid old love song recorded by masters like Monk, Armstrong and even Doris Day and Tony Bennett. PT’s lower harp on this combined with the lap steel, gives it a groove like Gerry Mulligan sitting in at Country Swing Jam, I love it!

If I Had You - another old standard with a catchy melody that begs the melody add some words. But PT needs NO vocals as he has it completely sung on his horn!
I love again the sparseness on the arrangement with the perfect sprinkles and comping from Bergeson’s Guitar and Rob Ickes Lap Steel. Listening to PT float his notes over the top makes for a groovy love song!
Boogie Woogie Blue Plate – When your singin’ about greasy food count me in! This old Jumpin Jordan tune is a terrific vehicle for PT’s Harp & Vocals. It’s reminiscent of Jon Hendrik’s food song “I’ll Die Happy”. So glad PT included this on the record.

Here There and Everywhere – Now here’s a Beatles classic that sits perfectly on PT’s custom blues harmonica. I have always picked up of my Chromatics to play this one but it loses its soul. Listen to PT’s soulful reading with Lap Steel weaving in and out. Also a fitting finale to a magical musical journey and looking forward to the next.

Ross Garren

One Of A Kind
"PT Gazell is one of the most unique harmonica players on the planet. A true luminary, PT first came to prominence in the 1970's playing and recording with many of Country Music's top artists. In recent years PT has turned the harmonica world on its ear through his cultivation of the Gazell Method, a modification to the diatonic harmonica that allows the instrument to be played fully chromatically. With a musical style as unconventional as the instrument he plays, his latest record, A Madness To The Method is an absolute delight! From the singular timbre and melodic approach of PT's harmonica to the wonderful interplay between the harmonica and lap steel, this record is an outstanding work by a one of a kind artist!"

Rosco Selly

Smooth Smooth Smooth
PT Gazell is smooth. He just is. I’ve played golf with the guy, we’ve hung out, I’ve heard him play harmonica dozens of times. We’ve shared a few cocktails. He’s smoooooth. Now, in my musical lexicon ‘smooth’ is not always cool…but PT manages to get just the right amount of edge into his smoothie-ness to elevate it far, far up into COOL-ness. His new recording, ‘A Madness to the Method’ is yet another example of what many of us in the harmonica world know: he is uniquely amazing. In a feat of mind-over-matter that rivals what Howard Levy has accomplished over the last 30 years, PT has bent the harmonica to his will, devising a way to valve the diatonic harmonica so that he can manipulate bends to play chromatically. This is a VERY impressive feat – his half, whole, and minor third bends are ON. Some of us know how hard that is. That wouldn’t matter if his tone, phrasing and ideas weren’t good…but they are fantastic. He has a hybrid sound somewhere between diatonic, chromatic, and heavenly that works perfectly for this repertoire. He has also assembled a band that ‘gets it’. These cats are all superb players in their own right, but they are supportive in a way that makes me jealous. I am going to give a special shout out to the lap steel specialist Rob Ickes – tone, tone, tone…and chops! And the way the instrument blends with PT’s harp is beautiful.
The album kicks off with a tune by ‘Sweets’ Edison, an under-appreciated Basie stalwart who had a musical sensibility a lot like PT’s. Think quiet storm. This is the longest cut on the project and it shows off Ickes’ mastery, along with PT’s swing and his KILLER vibrato (sweetly clarinet-ish on some of the high notes) that just makes me smile. These two trade solos and licks and end up playing very cool unison lines.
The album works through 8 Jazz and old school R&B standards and ends with a standard for our age, the beautiful Lennon/McCartney ‘Here, There, and Everywhere’.
The Beatles tune is a standout for me. Obviously a great tune, and PT gets to the heart of the song in a wonderful interpretation. The comp guitar tone is perfect, the lap steel voicings are awesome, and the harp is spot on…no mean feat on a tune that moves around like this one.
I have had the pleasure of hearing PT play ‘I Remember Clifford’ a few times in very intimate settings. Always moving, I know it’s a tune he loves. Here there is a simple arrangement with Pat Bergeson’s guitar and PT playing the melody in a starkly naked and moving performance.
All the tunes sound good, but when PT kicks it up and blows through the up tempo “This Can’t Be Love’ you get a sense of what a strong improv cat he is…this is the one where he shows off a little-in a good way.
AND….WTF? PT sings!! He sings and swings his way through ‘Reet, Petite, and Gone’ with a voice that stands up perfectly to the material – YES! – sing more!
This is just a great album. You can put it on when friends come over, and it will be very nice background music…but the cool folk will sit up, listen, and ask what the hell is this cool s#!+ they are listening to!?

Paul Messinger

No Madness In This Method
PT Gazell’s new project, A Madness to the Method, is his first solo release in 5 years. Since his seminal solo effort, “Pace Yourself”, followed by his D.B. Cooper-like disappearance, to his 2005 reappearance with “Swingin’ Easy … Hittin’ Hard, to 2012’s “2 Days Out”, each new PT Gazell solo release can be viewed as a musical, as well as instrumental re-invention.
The instrumental part is obvious as instead of choosing to dine off the menu, he instead decided that none of the available instrumental options (Column A or B or C … or diatonic, diatonic with overbends, or chromatic) fit the contours of his musical palette. So, he instead created his own instrument, the Gazell-Method, half-valved diatonic.

The musical part takes a little more imagination, as some of the ground he’s covered seems identifiable enough. However, in creating his own instrument (though not the actual inventor of the theory behind the instrument, it’s unarguable that he has created an entirely original path for it), he by definition then had to create a new sonic-idea of what that instrument could become, as well as create an entirely new pathway for the next generation of players to follow.
Which brings us to his new release, “A Madness to the Method” …
I’ll first argue that, as clever as the title is, there is no madness to the method. Instead, to this listener’s ears, it is plainly apparent that PT Gazell has just plain figured out what this instrument is supposed to sound like, what it is capable of delivering in his chosen musical genre, and has just plain delivered it.

It’s said that Benny Goodman, the King of Swing, had no instrumental (or racial or ethnic) bias … in that spirit, he integrated the electric guitar (Charlie Christian) and vibes (Lionel Hampton) into his sonic-palette, and thus into the musical tradition of Swing.

There is no question in my mind that, had PT Gazell and his half-valved diatonic been around during that time, Benny Goodman would have embraced both the player and the instrument … because PT Gazell swings that hard …
That’s pretty much the whole point I’m going to make about this recording …
If you as a player want to learn how to swing, or you as a listener want music that SWINGS with an original instrument by an original player … then, listen to “A Madness to the Method”, and geek out …
PT Gazell is a straight-ahead cat … In the tradition of Louis Jordan (whom he covers on two tracks here), he brings it straight-ahead, no (metaphorical) musical chasers. I’d like to think that part of that is because his chosen instrument is, after all, (though it has a hybrid-chromatic-like quality at times) a diatonic harmonica.
Diatonic players should especially note that the way PT Gazell plays, the phrasing, the way he identifies changes, is a revelation to understanding the possibilities how to play the instrument. If you, as a player, want to expand your technique on the diatonic, this is the music (and this is the player) you want (and need) to listen to.
He approaches these tunes in a linear though lyrical manner that you flat-out will understand … and whether you develop expanded technique with overbends or the Gazell-Method Seydell diatonic, you’ll understand how the diatonic can structure these kinds of songs, and you will flat-out improve as a player …