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|Mel Martin-tenor & soprano||
It is my pleasure to introduce to you the newest incarnation of Bebop and Beyond. We are often asked the question "what is beyond bebop?" The answer is musically, nothing. Spiritually, we are moving into the next century while still advancing the music. BEBOP & BEYOND features the talents of some of the most experienced players in jazz. Their exciting interpretations of jazz standards and original compositions are the heart of every performance.
New York City 1998
Bebop and Beyond is an acclaimed classical repertory jazz ensemble committed to working with some of the foremost performers and composers in jazz. Originally formed in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1983 by reed player, composer/arranger Mel Martin, the group has garnered international attention for their dynamic and innovative presentations and finely produced recordings of new arrangements of classic bop compositions by Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Tadd Dameron and others as well as forward looking originals by members of the group. Bebop and Beyond strives to bring an authentic interpretation to the classic repertoire and to invigorate the music with a broad and entertaining approach, drawing the audience into a musical environment that brings together the musical lineage of modern jazz including many of the later innovations of the music.
Mel Martin - June 7, 1942 in Sacramento, CA
The leader of Bebop and Beyond and a versatile bop-based reed player with an open-minded style, Mel Martin has been a fixture in San Francisco since the 1970s. He had his first gig when he was 14 and after attending San Francisco State he dropped out to become a professional musician. Among his early associations were such rock groups as Santana, Azteca, Cold Blood, Boz Scaggs and Van Morrison in addition to working in the studios. During 1977-78 he led an adventurous fusion band Listen, a group that recorded two albums for Inner City Records. In 1983, after recording a duet album (for Catero) with guitarist Randy Vincent, Martin formed Bebop and Beyond, a band that has since recorded for Concord and Bluemoon including NEA funded tribute albums to Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie with Dizzy participating on the latter. Among Bebop & Beyond's sidemen have been Randy Vincent, George Cables, Donald Bailey, Jeff Chambers, Wayne Wallace, Eddie Marshall and Warren Gale with such guests on their albums as John Handy, John Santos, Joe Henderson and Howard Johnson. In addition to recently performing music from the Charles Mingus songbook with Bebop and Beyond and the Mingus Epitaph Performance, Martin has recorded a solo set of Benny Carter tunes, Mel Martin Plays Benny Carter on Enja Records also with funding from the NEA. Mr. Carter is a featured as a special guest as is Kenny Barron, Rufus Reid, Victor Lewis, Harold Jones and Roger Kellaway. He was also awarded an NEA Fellowship in 1994 which enabled him to performs several concerts on both the East and West Coasts. Since then he has been dividing his time working on both coasts.
Bobby Watson - Aug 23, 1953 in Lawrence, KS
Bobby Watson has long been one of the top altoists in jazz, a flexible player able to play swing (he once recorded a tribute to Johnny Hodges), hard bop and free jazz. He started playing the alto when he was 13 and was soon arranging and composing for his school bands. After graduating from the University of Miami in 1975 Watson moved to New York, hitting the big time by joining (and soon becoming the musical director of) Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers during 1977-81, participating in what were Wynton Marsalis' first recordings. In the 1980s Watson co-led groups with Curtis Lundy (with whom he formed the New Note label) and played with the George Coleman Octet, Charlie Persip's big band, Louis Hayes, Sam Rivers, Dameronia, the 29th Street Saxophone Quartet and the Savoy Sultans; quite a wide range of jazz styles! Watson also began leading his own regular bands in the mid-'80s and the following decade he headed a regular hard bop quintet known as Horizon. His many recordings (for Enja, Red, New Note, Blue Note, Evidence, Columbia and Kokopelli) are always stimulating and worth investigating. He and Martin worked together with The Keystone All-stars and formed a working relationship that is bearing fruit in Bebop and Beyond 2000.
Jack Walrath - May 5 , 1946 in Stuart, FL
An often exciting, thoughtful trumpeter, composer and fine arranger, Jack Walrath has steadily gained attention and exposure through his contributions to outstanding sessions. Walrath began playing trumpet at nine, and studied at Berklee in the mid and late '60s while working with other students and backing up R&B vocalists. He moved to the West Coast in 1969, and co-led the bands Change with Gary Peacock and Revival with Glenn Ferris. Walrath also toured a year with Ray Charles. Walrath relocated to New York in the early 70's and worked with Latin bands before playing with Charles Mingus from 1974 to 1979, an association that gave him a great amount of recognition. Walrath contributed some arrangements and orchestrations to Mingus' final recordings.In the 1980's and 90's he led his own bands, toured Europe with Dannie Richmond and the British group Spirit Level, worked with Charlie Persip's Superband and Mulhal Richard Abrams, and helped keep the music of Charles Mingus alive by playing with The Mingus Dynasty and Big Band. Jack Walrath has recorded as a leader for Gatemouth, Stash, SteepleChase, Red, Muse, Spotlite, Blue Note and Mapleshade. His working relationship with Mel Martin goes back to his early days in California right through performances of Mingus' Epitaph and gigs at Birdland in New York City.
George Cables - Nov 14, 1944 in New York, NY
Equally skilled as a leader or as a sideman, George Cables has helped to define modern mainstream jazz piano of the 1980s and '90s. When he was 18 and at Mannes College he formed the Jazz Samaritans with Steve Grossman and Billy Cobham. Cables gained recognition during his stints with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Sonny Rollins (both in 1969), Joe Henderson (1969-71) and Freddie Hubbard (1971-76). He was with Dexter Gordon (1976-78) during the tenor's successful return to the United States and became known as Art Pepper's favorite pianist (1979-82). Being a charter member of Bebop and Beyond (starting in 1984), he has appeared on all of their recordings and is still contributing vital compositions and his trademark sparkling piano work. He has appeared as sideman in many recording and performance situations through the years and has recorded frequently as a leader, most notably for Contemporary (including the 1979 classic Cables Vision), Concord and SteepleChase.
Ray Drummond - Nov 23, 1946 in Brookline, MS
Ray Drummond was born in Massachusetts but later relocated to California. He played various horns in school before being persuaded by his band director to try the bass. He developed a strong taste for jazz at an early age and essentially taught himself listening to the music of jazz masters. While he was in the San Francisco area he worked with Mel Martin, Bobby Hutcherson, Michael White, Martha Young (Lester's niece), Tom Harrell, and Eddie Marshall. He moved to New York where he quickly became a first-call bassist. His persuasive playing with its solid rhythmic and harmonic innovation has enriched the bands of so many jazz notables including the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis, Betty Carter, Woody Shaw, Hank Jones, Milt Jackson, Jon Faddis, Johnny Griffin, Kenny Barron, Pharoah Sanders, and George Coleman. Additionally, he has had the opportunity to work on over two hundred recordings with a diverse number of artists including Art Farmer, David Murray, Houston Person, Stan Getz, Kenny Burrell, and Ray Bryant. He has recorded seven projects under his own name, three as a co-leader, and has continued to be in demand as a producer. He has appeared with Bebop and Beyond at their previous East Coast performances and supplies the exact kind of time and substance for their modern interpretations.
Billy Hart - November
29, 1940 in Washington, D.C.
Billy Hart is one of jazz's true masters of the drums. For over 30 years he has played with nearly every major jazz artist on the scene including stints with Wes Montgomery, Stan Getz, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Smith, and Shirley Horn. He was a charter member of both The Mingus Dynasty and Quest and as a leader has featured players such as Kenny Kirkland, Dave Liebman, Bill Frisell, Eddie Gomez, Kevin Eubanks, Buster Williams, Ralph Moore, Eddie Henderson, John Stubblefield and Dave Kikowski to name a few. And he remains one of the top sidemen on jazz recordings with hundreds of album credits.
Haybert K. Houston:
I, too, attended the conference as a dues-paying member. The first musical performance of the conference was Wednesday evening, January 7, with Mel Martin (JN cover August 1994) and Bebop and Beyond 2000 in the Marquis Ballroom. Here again, the room was too small to accommodate the attendees, but the music set the pace for the whole conference. Mel had wisely chosen some of the best musicians to move Bebop and Beyond into the next century: Bobby Watson, alto sax (JN cover March 1997); George Cables, piano (JN cover November 1994); Jack Walrath, trumpet; Ray Drummond, bass; Ben Riley, drums. These musicians really set the musical pace for the conference. It was one of the most thrilling musical sets I have attended, and considering my business, I have attended more than the average person.
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