Jimmy Mulidore – Jazz for the Ages (CD) and Jimmy Mulidore and his New York City Jazz Band (DVD) – self-released, CD: 78:29 + DVD: 111:31 [8/1/2012] ***:
(CD: Jimmy Mulidore – clarinet (tracks 1, 4, 7), bass clarinet (track 6), tenor, alto and baritone saxophone, flute; Dave Ring – piano (tracks 1, 4, 7, 15); Santo Savino – drums (tracks 1, 4, 6-7, 13, 15); Arnold Jacks – bass (tracks 1, 4, 7, 15); Billy Tragesser – keyboards (tracks 2-3, 5, 8-10, 14), vocals (tracks 2, 5, 8, 14); Frank Fabio – bass (tracks 2-3, 5, 8-10, 14); Mark Barrett – drums (tracks 2-3, 5, 8-10, 14); Jimmy Bruno – guitar (tracks 2-3, 5, 8-11, 14); Azziz – percussion (tracks 2-3, 5, 8-10, 14); Randy Brecker – trumpet (track 6); Richie Cole – alto sax (tracks 6, 12); Ron Feuer – piano (tracks 6, 13); Kevin Axt – bass (track 6); Carlos Vasquez – percussion (tracks 6, 13); Anita Lea – vocals (track 11); Mike Montana – piano (track 11); Kenny Seiffert – bass (track 11); Tomoko Ono – piano (track 12); John Lee – bass (track 12); Dennis McQuell – drums (track 12); Eric Alexander – tenor saxophone (track 13); Bob Magnusson – bass (track 13) –
DVD: Mulidore; Cole; Brecker; Axt; Feuer; Savino; Vasquez)
Jimmy Mulidore’s name probably does not ring any bells among most jazz listeners. That’s because Mulidore has worked chiefly in Las Vegas, where he has acted as the musical director for both the Hilton and Flamingo hotels; did time as conductor for Louis Armstrong, Gladys Knight and Olivia Newton-John; and played on albums by Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. But the multi-instrumentalist never lost a persistent passion for straight-ahead, classic jazz. That’s the main attraction of Mulidore’s self-released CD, the aptly-labeled Jazz for the Ages, and his companion DVD, Jimmy Mulidore and his New York City Jazz Band.
The CD and DVD both have a distinct, do-it-yourself vibe, but the mid-fi audio and poor quality video never diminishes the musical excellence, which always swings and runs the gamut from reworked renditions of Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis and Billy Strayhorn (plus others) as well as a few Mulidore originals. The 15 CD tracks, which total a full 78 minutes, utilize a diverse company of musicians, recorded in live and studio settings in Mexico, Vegas and San Diego. Mulidore’s self-penned compositions have a standard, contemporary characterization. “Muldoon’s Journey” and “Muldoon’s Mood” showcase Mulidore’s fine use of sax and flute. The first piece has a Spyro Gyra-ish, fusion feel, where tenor sax takes the lead, while electric keyboards and guitar provide an urban backdrop and various percussive devices offer a light South American ambiance. The second cut has a calm, atmospheric touch due to Mulidore’s flute, and the arrangement brings to mind Hubert Laws or James Newton. “Nigalian” also centers on Mulidore’s flute and revisits the fusion-flitted charms which also skim through “Muldoon’s Journey.” Flute and vocals can often harmonize in the same timbre, which makes them perfect duet partners during the album’s only vocal song, Johnny Mandel’s “A Time for Love,” which combines Anita Lea’s sweet voice with Mulidore’s sympathetic flute. Mulidore’s affection for Coltrane shows up in his arrangements for “Giant Steps,” “Satellite” (found on Coltrane’s Sound, 1964), “A Love Supreme,” and “Countdown” (from Giant Steps, 1960). Mulidore does a shortened version of “Giant Steps” but defies expectations by using clarinet instead of the typical sax; the clarinet creates a different tone to the well-known tune but Mulidore and his quartet maintain the focus on extended soloing (this is essentially a clarinet improvisation) and an energized melody. Mulidore does the same twist during “Satellite” and “Countdown,” where he and his quartet echo Coltrane’s significant drive, bright pacing and resonating chords. During a live five-minute rendering of “A Love Supreme,” Mulidore switches to bass clarinet: the brass lines are delivered by trumpeter Randy Brecker and alto saxophonist Richie Cole, although pianist Ron Feuer is assigned some improv room as well.
“A Love Supreme” can also be heard/seen on the nearly two-hour DVD, Jimmy Mulidore and his New York City Jazz Band, which features Mulidore, Brecker, Cole, Feuer, bassist Kevin Axt, drummer Santo Savino and percussionist Carlos Vasquez. Ironically, the concert was taped not in the Big Apple but at San Diego nightclub Anthology; and Cole, Axt and Feuer call Southern California home, while Mulidore and Savino are Las Vegas guys. Maybe the ensemble’s name comes from an upbeat and bop-ish mannerism which recalls New York City’s postwar jazz scene. Besides Coltrane, the septet sprints through takes of Oliver Nelson’s “Patterns,” three compositions associated with Miles Davis: Victor Feldman’s “Joshua” (from Seven Steps to Heaven, 1963), George Shearing’s “Conception” (which Davis did early in his career) and Davis’ own “All Blues” (recorded for A Kind of Blue, 1959); and pieces by Benny Golson, Sondheim, Cedar Walton and more. Highlights include the scorching, 12-minute translation of “Joshua,” where Cole, Brecker and Mulidore (on soprano sax) rip through one furious solo after another; a quietly devastating interpretation of the oft-done “Body and Soul,” where Brecker’s graceful trumpet is on ample display; and a lengthy discourse through Benny Golson’s “Along Came Betty,” where Mulidore takes time to musically nod to friend and mentor Phil Woods.
There are some caveats concerning the CD and DVD. The audio attributes are hit and miss: sometimes some instruments are too hot and high in the mix; other times the volume mysteriously goes up or down; and occasionally the live audio is not much better than a bootleg. The DVD video quality is very substandard: washed out colors, out of focus shots, and ineptly edited transitions between tunes (closeups of various LP covers to introduce the tunes being the only things clear and in focus). On the plus side, there are, eventually, close-ups on most of the players. However, as stated, these limitations do not weaken the strong performances, particularly the DVD’s live portions, where Mulidore, Brecker, Cole and the other members blaze and fire on all cylinders. On Jazz for the Ages and Jimmy Mulidore and his New York City Jazz Band, Mulidore proves one thing: it’s all about the love of the music.
CD: Giant Steps; Muldoon’s Journey; For Moody’s Sake; Satellite; Nigalian; A Love Supreme; Its You or No One; Muldoon’s Mood; Willow Weep for Me; Interstate 15; A Time for Love; Doxie; Freedom Jazz Dance; Rowena; Countdown.
DVD: Patterns; Das-Dat; A Love Supreme; Joshua; Send in the Clowns; For Moody’s Sake; Body and Soul; Along Came Betty; Lush Life; Conception; All Blues; Mosaic.
A Virtuosic Quietude in Hough’s rendering of Mompou “Música Callada”