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Thread: Fred Hess

  1. #1
    tulip or turnip? shawn·m's Avatar
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    Fred Hess



    “Hess loves Lester Young, Don Byas and Stan Getz but doesn’t try to imitate them. He minds his jazz history in other ways, nodding to the improvised counterpoint in old New Orleans bands, the rough textures and flexible forms of free jazz, and the pleasures of swinging rhythm. Sometimes he serves up all that stuff at once.” —Kevin Whitehead, NPR’s All Things Considered (review of 2003’s “Extended Family”)

    Born in Abington, Pennsylvania, Hess grew up in New Jersey, attending Trenton State College, before moving to Colorado in 1981. He graduated with a doctorate in music composition from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1991. His early experiences include studies with saxophonist Phil Woods, a stint with bandleader Fred Waring, and composing music for the world premiere of a Sam Shepard play. As a composer, his influences encompass avant-garde classical sources, as well as Anthony Braxton and the members of the AACM. He currently is Coordinator of Jazz Studies at The Metropolitan State College of Denver.

    Committed to exploring the boundaries of both notated and improvised music, Hess attended the Creative Music Studio, Woodstock, NY, in 1978. Moving to Colorado, he began the Boulder Creative Music Ensemble in 1982. In addition to his own projects as a leader (BCME and The Fred Hess Group), he was the founding director of Denver’s Creative Music Works Orchestra and has been a member of drummer Ginger Baker’s Denver Jazz Quintet, as well as ensembles led by trumpeter Ron Miles. His current performing groups are the Fred Hess Quartet and the Fred Hess/Marc Sabatella Duo.

    He has performed with a wide range of jazz artists including Charlie Haden, Paul Smoker, Ray Brown, Wynton Marsalis, Wadada Leo Smith, Hugh Ragin, and Victor Lewis. Hess has received the Colorado Council on the Arts Composition Fellowship twice (1986 and 1994), captured first place in the inaugural Hennessey Jazz Search in Denver, and, in 2000, received the Julius Hemphill Award for Jazz Composition awarded by the Jazz Composers Alliance. Favorable CD reviews have appeared in such periodicals as Jazziz, JazzTimes, The Wire, Cadence, Coda, JazzImprov, and Spin, as well as online jazz websites. In May, Fred will be featured in the Players section of Downbeat.

    The Long And Short Of It (Tapestry 76006-2) released in 2004 features Ron Miles, trumpet; Ken Filiano, bass; Matt Wilson, drums

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    tulip or turnip? shawn·m's Avatar
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    Crossed Paths
    Tapestry
    2005

    AAJ Reviews:

    Crossed Paths by Marc Meyers

    Crossed Paths by John Kelman

    Crossed Paths by Dan McClenaghan

    The Long And Short Of It by Mark Corroto

    The Long And Short Of It by Farrell Lowe

    The Long And Short Of It by Dan McClenaghan

    Right At Home by Mark Corroto

    Extended Family by Dan McClenaghan

    Exposed by Derek Taylor


    Website: http://net.indra.com/~fhmusic/

  3. #3
    tulip or turnip? shawn·m's Avatar
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    Please hold any questions for after Fred makes his first post.

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    In my music, I try to find a balance between the composed and improvised. If the composed music has clear and interesting material to work from, even though there is often no chord structure underneath, the musicians find interesting things to play that are unique to each piece. This seems, to me, the most essential element in jazz music.

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    tulip or turnip? shawn·m's Avatar
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    Thanks for joining us, Fred. I owe you a personal debt of gratitude; it was your version of “Such Sweet Thunder” that turned me on to Ellington!

    I remember Michael Cuscuna, among others remarking that different eras and styles of jazz are really “all the same thing.” I think your CD Such Sweet Thunder with it’s range of Ellington to Braxton proves the point. After 10-plus years, it’s still in heavy rotation (if I could only get my wife to understand).

    Could you talk a little about “Psalm To Hymn” and its evolution?

  6. #6
    Registered User Trumpet Guy's Avatar
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    No Question from me,just praise!

    I have both "The Long And Short Of It" and "Extended Family" are have thoroughly enjoyed listening to them many times!

    I'll be listening!!Thanks for the great music!

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    "Psalm To Hymn" evolved over a fifteen year period. It began as a simple "contrafact" over Coltrane's "Impressions." Then, sections would be added and it became evident it was headed toward becoming a large-scale multi-tempo composition. There is a direct quote from Coltrane's "Impressions" solo (after the slow introduction) that is reworked into a layered ostinato halfway through the piece. The final slow conclusion was inspired by Coltrane's "Crescent." The blowing sections are modal, but fall easily into freer blowing. A large jazz ensemble version also exists and was performed at Colorado's Greeley Jazz Festival in the early 1990's.
    Thanks for asking!.

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    AAJ's Barrel Roller xricci's Avatar
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    Hi Fred,

    Welcome to the AAJ bulletin board and thanks for participating as a "Catching Up With..." guest.

    I really enjoyed The Long and Short of It too and featured it on the AAJ home page around the street date. Here are two additional AAJ CD reviews by Mark Corroto and
    Dan McClenaghan.

    Mike

  9. #9
    Chronic Jazzaholic
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    Question Duo chemistry

    As a CMW and KUVO member, I've enjoyed hearing you in different group configurations in the Denver area. What is it about your duo with Marc that intrigues you? What does he bring to the mix that works so well with your own contributions?

    I hope to catch your Sunday night gig at Cameron. It is such a unique venue for live jazz.

  10. #10
    tulip or turnip? shawn·m's Avatar
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    Fred, do you have any thoughts regarding the neo-bop movement?

    Some believe neo-boppers only recreate previous styles and haven’t delivered anything new or individual. Others believe neo-bop is evidence that hard bop advanced something akin to a universal language that lives beyond its days of first creation. I don’t expect it’s an easy question to answer, but was/is neo-bop without value? Is there a difference in what neo-bop meant to listeners verses musicians?

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    Marc Sabatella is an example of that rare jazz animal who is comfortable in different creative contexts. I asked him several years ago if he would be interested in doing a duo project related to the quartet music that I was then recording. He answered in the affirmative, so I reduced several quartet pieces into a duo format, giving Marc the task of playing a left-hand bass part, paired with the trumpet line in the right hand. He said it was the most difficult music he has had to learn, as the pieces are not tunes, per se, but real compositions needing precise performances. I would fill in the two parts with appropriate material to make them sound more "pianistic" in nature.

    After seven months of weekly practice, we went into the studio to record. Marc said he had a stomach ache but played magnificently, as our cd, "Right At Home" demonstrates. For me, Marc's wonderful ease at relating to different stylistic contexts is the key to making our music work. My pieces, although regarded as "avante garde", reflect the many sources I have encountered over my 45 years as a practicing musician. He is sensitive to these sources and can be inside or outside as needed. Also, he is a very agreeable person which makes our music-making a real pleasure. It's always nice to play with one's friends.

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    I think the time (early 80s) was right for a neo-bop movement. During the 70s, there were stirrings involving repertory-based ensembles, but an audience wasn't clamoring for more. Remembering the moldy figs from the 1940s, the twenty year gap, also a fashion phenomenon, seemed in place for some type of revival movement. Fusion seemed to be fading and the ever present but commercially neglected segment of "creative improvisers" were what jazz had to offer the market place. So, the question that comes to my mind is whether neo-bop was a creation of the jazz industry's need to have a product, or the logical revisiting, by the upcoming young players, of a "safe" music, which would be understood by an audience?

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    There is no "safe" music just safe approaches to it.

  14. #14
    tulip or turnip? shawn·m's Avatar
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    Originally posted by kdd
    There is no "safe" music just safe approaches to it.
    And that brings us back to Fred’s original post…

    Fred, the ’80s seemed to be an awkward time for professional jazz musicians. Do you follow the trend –some wonder if, for example, David Murray tempered his personal vision in response to neo-bop’s popularity– or do you follow your own muse and risk obscurity? It was a reoccurring theme in Art Taylor’s Notes and Tones; “Do you play for yourself, or for the audience?” and the answer, of course, varied from one musician to another.

    Ultimately, neo-bop must have been a confluence of what listeners wanted to hear, what a good number of musicians felt comfortable with and what labels thought would sell. As to its historical value, I couldn’t begin to guess.

    Given the nature of your personal experience and work, I couldn’t help but wonder what your take was!

  15. #15
    Chronic Jazzaholic
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    Thumbs up Nice Cameron performance!

    I just got back from your performance with Marc at Cameron. Your tasty solos and interplay with Marc on "J.H.M." and "Joe Said" were especially satifying to this listener. I can only imagine what "Piece of the Day" must sound like on July 31 (long, hot night)...

    Thank you for your committment to excellence and creative composition.
    "Jazz is freedom. You think about that." --- Thelonious Monk

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