Sun, February 10, 2013
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2013-02-10 7:30 PM
Ed Palermo at Pleasantdale Presbyterian Church
It’s time for Mardi Gras!!
Please join us this Sunday evening, February 10th, at 7:30 PM for a Mardi Gras Jazz Vespers at Pleasantdale Church. Jazz Vespers combines the age-old tradition of evening meditation with the unique musical language of jazz. It includes contemporary prose, poetry, sometimes even a joke or two and some truly outstanding music performed by an amazing group of internationally recognized jazz musicians.
February’s Jazz Vespers will be led by Todd Shumpert. We are pleased to welcome band leader Ed Palermo on saxophone, Dave Stryker on guitar, Molly Palermo on bass and Oscar Perez on piano, with special guest Chris Kerwin on alto sax. In keeping with the special spirit of Mardi Gras, you might even find a cookie or two to enjoy! We hope to see you there!!
Jazz Vespers is held in the main building at Pleasantdale Church, 471 Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange. The building is fully accessible.
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About our February musicians:
Ed Palermo (bandleader and saxophone) - Since 1994, Ed Palermo has devoted the bulk of the performance by his NY-based, 18-piece Ed Palermo Big Band to his arrangements of Frank Zappa’s compositions. These big-band jazz arrangements are no mere transcriptions; they are “revelations”, as one critic best said. Palermo belongs to a tradition of visionary composers and arrangers who recognize hidden beauty and genius in an avant garde composer’s radical work, and create genius arrangements that serve to reveal that beauty to the public eye. Palermo has arranged almost 200 Zappa tunes. Performed by his inspired and tremendously skilled band, Palermo’s all instrumental, jazz arrangements of Zappa’s rock compositions bring Zappa’s music wider recognition, beyond the rock world, and elevate rock music’s status as ‘serious’ composition, proving that serious and satirical can indeed coexist.
Born in New Jersey, Ed first became interested in music as a child, taking clarinet lessons at age 10. He taught himself guitar, sax, piano and other instruments throughout high school, and was drawn to rock music, especially ‘60s rock bands known for their song craftsmanship: the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Beach Boys. But he recalls that his first experience of seeing Frank Zappa perform live, in 1969, “permanently altered my entire scope on music,” imploding his conceptions of what rock – and music in general – could or should be. The eclecticism of Zappa’s music inspired the young Palermo to explore classical (Dmitri Shostakovitch, Sergei Prokofief) and jazz music (from Edgar Winter’s jazzy, swinging sax, to the jazz saxophonists Cannonball Adderly, Phil Woods and Charlie Parker). In college at Chicago’s DePaul University, where he majored in music performance, he shifted his focus to jazz and his instrument to saxophone.
Palermo moved to New York in 1977 and immersed himself in performing, touring and/or recording with Aretha Franklin, Tito Puente, Eddy Palmieri, Celia Cruz, Lena Horne, Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Lou Rawls, Melba Moore, Debbie Gibson, The Spinners, and others. He began composing music and also began arranging, an interest sparked by Charles Tolliver’s album Impact. Palermo has written and/or arranged for the Tonight Show, Maurice Hines, Eddy Fischer, and Dave Stryker. In 1979, during his 3-year stint in Tito Puente’s band, Palermo put together his own big band: a 9-piece group that quickly expanded to 16. Palermo’s group played regularly at Seventh Avenue South and other NYC clubs, attracting the attention and friendship of Gil Evans, who wrote liner notes for Palermo’s first big-band recording, the self-titled Ed Palermo (Vile Heifer Records: 1982), which featured original compositions and guests (David Sandborn, Randy Brecker, Edgar Winter). Palermo’s 2nd big band CD, called Ping Pong, came out 5 years later on Pro Jazz/Pro Arte and featured original compositions, as well as a Wayne Shorter piece, and covers of The Police, The Beatles, Donald Fagan and Horace Silver. While Zappa remained a strong influence on Palermo’s own music, he did not arrange his first Zappa tune for big band until 1988.
Deeply affected by Zappa’s death on Dec. 4, 1993, Palermo began arranging enough Zappa tunes for a concert in Zappa’s memory. Held June 13, 1994 at NY’s Bitter End, the concert thrilled Zappa fans yearning to hear live music and jazz fans bored with tradition. Another NY club, the Bottom Line, gave Palermo’s Big Band a long-term residency, and from Aug. 19, 1994 to July 25, 2003 they played countless Zappa tunes, reinterpreted and arranged by Palermo. The now-17 piece Ed Palermo Big Band has played about 100 all-Zappa shows, no two of them duplicating sets. The band plays regularly in the NY/NJ area; the band moved to the Iridium after the Bottom Line, and in 2004 it played with Project/Object at B.B. King’s. In demand internationally for Zappa, jazz, and new music festivals, the Ed Palermo Big Band has played at Zappa festivals in Germany (Zappanale #13, 2002; Biennale Bonn 2004) and Sweden (2003 International Chamber Music Festival), and performed as a headliner at the 2006 Detroit Jazz Festival. Besides these Big Band concerts, Palermo is in-demand as a player for Zappa tributes, and as a conductor and arranger. Palermo played with tribute band Bogus Pomp at St. Petersburg, FL’s 1999 A Tribute to Frank Zappa’s Music, and with the Ed Palermo Jazz from Hell Band and Zappa Corner Band at the 2003 Sweden festival. In addition, he has conducted the U.S. Army Blues Band numerous times, for concerts of his Zappa arrangements at military bases in the Washington DC area.
In May, 2006, Cuneiform Records released Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance, the Ed Palermo Big Band’s 2nd CD of Frank Zappa music. The album received rave notices from the critics and the public, almost instantly becoming one of Cuneiform's best-selling releases. Palermo's interpretations of Zappa's work soon received further recognition when Ned Wharton of NPR's Weekend Edition invited the Ed Palermo Big Band into NPR’s studio to tape a session with host Andrea Seabrook. Aired on Weekend Edition Sunday on October 8, 2006 to an audience of hundreds of thousands of NPR listeners, the feature, titled “Ed Palermo, Making New Arrangements for Zappa,” included the Big Band performing 4 of Palermo’s Zappa arrangements and a conversation with Palermo.
Eddy Loves Frank (2009) was the third album to feature the music of Frank Zappa as arranged by Ed Palermo and performed by the Ed Palermo Big Band. A brilliantly original and entertaining big band jazz CD, Eddy Loves Frank shows that Zappa’s music has become assimilated into the American songbook.
In addition to his Big Band, Ed teaches privately. Ed appeared last summer at the Luna Stage Fusion Fest in West Orange with an offshoot of the Big Band called Eddie’s Chemistry Set. He appears regularly at the Iridium and several other venues around the tri-state area.
Dave Stryker (Guitar) - - Whether you’ve heard guitarist Dave Stryker fronting his own group (with 23 CD’s as a leader to date), or as a featured sideman with Stanley Turrentine, Jack McDuff, and many others, you know why Gary Giddins in the Village Voice calls him “one of the most distinctive guitarists to come along in recent years.” He was voted one of the Top Ten Guitarists in the 2001 Downbeat Readers poll, and a Rising Star for the last 5 years in the Downbeat Critics Poll. His approach combining the jazz burn to a soulful blues feeling is communicating to new fans wherever he plays. His most recent CD “Blue Strike” has made many Best of 2011 lists including WBGO Jazz Radio and Tom Reney/New England Pulic Radio.
Dave Stryker grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and moved to New York City in 1980. After establishing himself in the local music scene, he joined organist Jack McDuff’s group for two years 1984-85. When McDuff wasn’t on the road (literally traveling by van all over the country) they worked a steady four-night a week gig at Dude’s Lounge in Harlem. His first break, this turned out to be an invaluable experience, paying his dues night after night with the soulful jazz organist. It was at Dude’s Lounge that Stryker met tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, who would occasionally sit in. After leaving McDuff, Turrentine asked Stryker to join his quintet. From 1986-1995 he played with the legendary saxophonist at all the major festivals, concert halls, and clubs throughout the world. He is featured on two Turrentine CD’s (Stanley recorded Stryker’s tune “Sidesteppin”). With Turrentine, Stryker was able to play with such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie and Freddie Hubbard. The ten years playing alongside the tenor legend helped Stryker realize the importance of having his own sound. Dave continued to work with Stanley and was with him during his final week at the Blue Note in NYC, when he passed in Sept. 2000.
Early on Stryker realized that as much as he loved playing standards and the jazz repertoire he had to have something of his own to give to the music. He feels that his writing combined with his playing is what shapes his musical expression. He has recorded and published over 130 of his own compositions. Eighteen of those compositions (from the first five SteepleChase CD’s) are compiled in the book: The Music of Dave Stryker (SteepleChase Music). Some of the other artists who have recorded his music are: Stanley Turrentine, Kevin Mahogany, Victor Lewis, and Steve Slagle. Dave continues to perform with his working unit The Stryker / Slagle Band as well as his other projects: The Dave Stryker Organ Trio, and The Blue to the Bone Band.
Recent sideman work has included vocalist Kevin Mahogany’s group, with Dave writing and arranging music for Kevin’s Telarc release Pride and Joy and Another Time, Another Place on Warner Bros and tours of Europe, Japan, Brazil, Poland and Carnegie Hall. He also has worked with Blue Note saxophonist Javon Jackson and pianist Eliane Elias. He has appeared on over 50 CD’s as a sideman. As a producer, Stryker compiled the CD The Guitar Artistry of Billy Rogers which is the only existing record of the brilliant jazz playing of the late underground legend who was his friend, former teacher and member of the Crusaders. He has also produced “A Tribute to Grant Green” on Evidence Music.
Dave is also involved in teaching both privately and at the Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshop, the Litchfield Jazz Fest Camp, and The Veneto/ New School Workshop in Italy. Dave is an Adjunct Professor at The Cali School for the Arts at Montclair State University. His book “Dave Stryker’s Jazz Guitar Improvisation Method” (Mel Bay Publishing) is available on Amazon.com.
Molly Palermo (Bass) - - After achieving a bachelor's degree in jazz bass, Molly spent a year playing gigs in the New York City area. During that time, she supplemented her income by working at Memorial Sloan/Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan while living in Brooklyn.
After that, she was able to fulfill her lifelong dream of joining the Peace Corps where she was stationed in the Ukraine for 27 months. She taught the native children and adults how to speak English.
Oscar Perez (Piano) - - Born in a middle class neighborhood in Queens, Perez grew up immersed in Latin American music. His Cuban father fled the island in 1966, though he decided to strike out on his own in New York City rather than joining the exile community in Miami. His mother was born and raised in Colombia, and brought her love of Latin music to New York. A dedicated violinist while attending the LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts (the school made famous by “Fame”), he also studied piano with two illustrious classical pianists, Julliard’s Robert Harris and NYU’s Edgar Roberts. On his own time he played guitar in various garage rock bands, while his guitar teacher Tony Romano turned him on to Jim Hall via the classic Sonny Rollins album The Bridge. When he arrived at the University of North Florida’s vaunted Jazz Performance program Perez made the jump back to piano, transferring his newfound jazz insight from the fretboard to the keyboard. Before long he had developed enough facility to hold his own with jazz masters such as Bunky Green, George Russell, Curtis Fuller and George Garzone. But his most profound epiphany took place his senior year, when he caught a performance by Danilo Perez in Chicago with bassist Avishai Cohen and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts. That’s how he ended up at New England Conservatory in Boston.
“I wasn’t even planning on going to grad school,” Perez recalls. “But Danilo made such an impact I told my friends, I’m going to study with that guy. I think the reason so many people get traced back to him is that he truly loves all his students. Even now when I go hear him play I’ll still get a lesson from him. People just connect through him. He has one foot firmly set in education, but he’s an ambassador of the music.” While completing his MFA at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College under the guidance of piano legend Sir Roland Hanna, Perez studied composition and arranging with Phillip Michael Mossman. A highly sought after sideman, he’s performed and toured widely with trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, saxophonist Virginia Mayhew, trombonist Steve Turre, and vocalists Charenee Wade and Cathy Elliott. He also spent three years accompanying the
late, Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Phoebe Snow.
After many years performing at St. Edward’s Church in Harlem, Perez was recently appointed music director for the congregation. His long-standing gig as accompanist for the Nightingale/Bamford Gospel Choir embodies his commitment to sacred music. And Perez has found several paths to explore his passion for education, including teaching privately, offering master classes through Jazz at Lincoln Center, and teaching at vocalist Melissa Walker’s community program Jazz House Kids, which brings music to underserved children and adults in Newark.
But his most fully realized creative outlet is Nuevo Comienzo. Perez traces the band’s origins to an opportunity that arose in 2003, when he was hired to assemble a group for a tour of cities in Russia’s far east. He had been working with Stacy Dillard in various bands around New York, and had developed a close musical connection with Greg Glassman in college. Taking full advantage of the opportunity, he wrote a sheaf of new music for the ensemble, and had it well-rehearsed before heading out on tour. Upon returning to New York, Perez figured the time was ripe to document that band. Since he’d been working with Wycliffe Gordon and Peter Bernstein he invited them to join the session as special guests, which resulted in his heralded 2005 debut recording Nuevo Comienzo. “We played six concerts in Siberia in these beautiful concert halls,” Perez recalls. “We had write ups in magazines, and really got the star treatment. Three weeks before, I’m playing weddings and schlepping my stuff on the subway. That’s the jazz life.”
Chris Kerwin (Alto saxophone) - - Chris is a sophomore at West Orange High School and a member of Jazz II. He has studied with Ed Palermo since 2007. When he is not playing his saxophone, he can usually be found with a lacrosse stick in his hand.
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Pleasantdale Presbyterian Church, 471 Pleasant Valley Way