Nice Work...if You Can Get It (Pages of Paich, Vol. 2)

Jeff Hedberg & C11

Cool swinging, classic vocals backed by a solid 10 piece ensemble that includes three saxes, two trumpets, French Horn, Trombone, Tuba, Bass, Drums.

Jeff Hedberg & C11 is a 12-piece, Chicago-based jazz ensemble, founded and lead by jazz vocalist/trumpeter and Blujazz Recording Artist, Jeff Hedberg. The group, formed in April 2008, performs large ensemble jazz in the West Coast "Cool" style. The band features many of the top soloists, section players and freelance artists that reside in the Chicagoland area.

-----CD LINER NOTES----- Nice Work … If You Can Get It is the second in a series of albums recorded in Chicago meant to honor and preserve the genius work of master arranger/composer/pianist, Marty Paich. When I first began acquiring these charts, I resigned myself to thought that music this well written, challenging and downright hip, deserves to be performed.

This project began life as I was completing coursework at Northwestern University in 2002. During my studies there I discovered the first of several albums that Paich had arranged for Mel Tormé using his “Dek-tette.” Mel Tormé & The Marty Paich Dek-tette.

From the opening notes of the first cut of that album, “Lulu’s Back in Town,” I could hear that this was no ordinary vocal album, especially not for 1955, when this masterpiece was released. It sounded (and still sounds) so hip it could have been written just yesterday. That is what initially grabbed my attention of the arranging, the timelessness of the writing. Well, that and the fact that these arrangements require the singer not to conceive himself as merely a soloist with a background accompaniment. Instead, simply put, become one more instrument in the band.

I am incredibly proud of these two releases, the latter being Too Darn Hot, Pages of Paich Vol. 1. The level of artistry, joy and dedication exhibited by the musicians heard on these discs, in my opinion, is second to none.

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Too Darn Hot

Jeff Hedberg & C11

Cool swinging, classic vocals backed by a solid 10 piece ensemble that includes three saxes, two trumpets, French Horn, Trombone, Tuba, Bass, Drums.

Jeff Hedberg & C11 is a 12-piece, Chicago-based jazz ensemble, founded and lead by jazz vocalist/trumpeter and Blujazz Recording Artist, Jeff Hedberg. The group, formed in April 2008, performs large ensemble jazz in the West Coast "Cool" style. The band features many of the top soloists, section players and freelance artists that reside in the Chicagoland area.

TOO DARN HOT LINER NOTES

Back in 2004, Jeff Hedberg, a talented singer and trumpeter, made a strong impression with his debut recording, The Summer Knows, showing creativity in his interpretations of vintage material. Now on Too Darn Hot, he breathes new life into the musical partnership of Mel Torme and arranger Marty Paich, by re-introducing the genius of their music to today’s audiences.

While pursuing a Masters of Music in Jazz Pedagogy from Northwestern University and under the guidance of pianist Mike Kocour, Jeff stumbled upon Mel Torme's Lulu's Back In Town. “I was absolutely enamored by Marty Paich's writing for the Dek-tette and the way that Torme was used as part of the horn section. When I told Mike about it, he gave me the assignment of learning every single note sung on the record.” Driven by a relentless passion to maintain the integrity of the writing while using modern recording methods, the “Pages of Paich” project was born. Too Darn Hot is the first CD to be released as part of this project.

Mel Torme and Marty Paich formed an ideal musical partnership in the 1950s. They first teamed up for 1956's “Lulu's Back In Town” and there were five other full albums made during 1956-60 (Mel Torme Sings Astaire, Prelude To A Kiss, Torme, Back In Town, and Mel Torme Swings Shubert Alley) plus two additional sets in 1988 (Reunion and In Concert Tokyo). “Mel Torme knew how to sound like a horn with his voice. In Marty Paich's writing, which is constantly full of surprises, each musician has their own unique responsibility harmonically. The result is a chamber ensemble that swings, one that includes a brass quintet and a saxophone trio.”

In April 2008 Jeff formed C11, a group of Chicago musicians based on Marty Paich's Dek-tette. Extreme care was taken by both Jeff and recording engineer/producer Scott Steinman to ensure that every note of every chord could be heard. “My goal was to record the arrangements in a well controlled atmosphere that really gives a listener a nice full picture of the genius of Marty Paich.” C11 recorded 29 tracks from the Torme-Paich albums in three sessions. Too Darn Hot is the first of two CDs that will be released of this timeless music. It has six arrangements from Lulu's Back In Town, two from Mel Torme Sings Astaire, and seven from Swings Shubert Alley.

Although the arrangements are true to the original albums, there are unique differences. Jeff’s interpretation of the material is not to be mistaken as an imitation of Torme. Just as the influence of Torme’s drum skills were evident in his rhythmic styling and precision, Jeff’s trumpet background influences his vocal performance through phrasing and articulation. His scatting is original and his own personality can be felt in his interpretations while being very true to the music.

As for the 11-piece band, while their tones perfectly fit into the West Coast cool jazz sound, their solos are fresh and new, creative within the tradition. The key soloists include altoist Rich Moore (whose beautiful tone leads the ensembles), trumpeter Nick Drozdoff, trombone Steve Duncan and both Jared Bufe and Brett Palmer on tenors. Lisa Taylor on French horn and Rich Armandi on tuba are also major assets. It is a particular delight getting to really hear what Marty Paich wrote for the ensemble, the way that the horns weave around the singer's voice, and the many unexpected moments.

If one had to name a few highpoints, there is the famous introduction of “Lulu's Back in Town,” the ensemble writing on “Something's Gotta Give,” Jeff's vulnerable-sounding voice on “Lonely Town,” his scatting on “Lullaby Of Birdland,” and the joy felt throughout “Fascinatin' Rhythm.” But in reality, each performance, arrangement and vocal has its special moments.

“Marty Paich's music always puts a giant grin on my face.” On Too Darn Hot, Jeff Hedberg and C11 have brought back and re-interpreted classic music in performances that would certainly cause Mel Torme and Marty Paich to smile.

Scott Yanow, author of ten books including The Jazz Singers, Trumpet Kings, Jazz On Record 1917-76 and Jazz On Film

"Jeff is to Mel Torme, as Mendelssohn was to Bach." - John Bany, legendary Chicago Bassist

"Chicago's hottest new jazz band..." - AccuRadio, Chicago-based multichannel Internet Radio station

"Amazing...that is one terrific CD." - Rick Kogan, WGN Radio

"...preserving and performing the West Coast "Cool" Jazz sound of the '50s and '60s." - Chicago Sun-Times

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The Summer Knows

Various Artists

Intimate Jazz vocals and flugelhorn playing reminiscent of Chet Baker

Liner Notes from "The Summer Knows:"

It's a cold Saturday night in a smoky Chicago night club circa 1960. Amidst the din of voices and sporadic laughter Chet Baker enters stage right with his trumpet in hand. The spotlight highlights the haze, and he opens with "My Funny Valentine". Forty-five years later, Jeff Hedberg enters the same stage carrying his flugelhorn; the spotlight highlights his presence, and an hour and a half later, he closes with his own affecting interpretation of the same Rodgers and Hart lyrics, "Please stay and make each day a Valentine's Day."

Jeff's voice produces memories of these times. Certainly one can hear Mel Torme, Ella, and of course Chet Baker in his performance. But to only describe this artist as an "updated" or "modern" version of someone else would be to deprive him of the identity that comes from blending various styles into one cohesive voice.

It is this voice that brings us the cool, melodic, sexy sound Jeff can truly call his own. One may think that because he is young and this is his first album, he is just beginning his journey. But for this musician, and so many others, the journey begins long before the first recording is made or the first club date is commanded. To arrive at this level of talent, one is prepared with years of practice, study, and hard work. Jeff has attained his skill through not only his undergraduate diploma from Elmhurst College and his Master's from Northwestern, but also via the practical experience jazz players value above all else. His home is Chicago, a hub for so many talented musicians such as Kurt Elling, Patricia Barber, and Libby York. It is Chicago itself that has provided his education as much as any school within it.

Specifically, Jeff's work on this album is splendid. His voice technically is controlled yet expressive. He shows off his talents with repertoire including "The Summer Knows", "'Round Midnight", and "Cry Me A River". He utilizes vocal embellishments freely, but has the maturity and instrumental intelligence to know when to avoid them as well. He is able to let the written melody and his voice stand on their own; owing to the fact that his voice is strong, his range broad, and his phrasing superb. None of these intuitive intellects should surprise us, because Jeff also plays the flugelhorn masterfully. The phrasing, articulation, and breath control used to play his horn influence his voice. There are vocal qualities to his playing, and instrumental qualities to his singing. He approaches both using the same dark tone, the same robust phrasing, the same elongated lines. Just listen to the first tune, "Comes Love". We hear Chet Baker's voice, Miles' tone, and Clifford Brown's triplet figures.

Jeff combines the best of past and present, vocal and instrumental, improvisation and lyricism, playfulness and coolness. It is a distinctive pleasure to listen to this album. Surely his style will appeal to all listeners, from those fans of Mel Torme and Frank Sinatra, to Harry Connick and Norah Jones, to Chet Baker and Miles Davis. The songs and the music are universal; as is Jeff's charming style.

Scott Gotschall Contributing writer - jazzreview.com Author - www.jazzwriter.com

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