Fly With the Wind
Terell Stafford, trumpet
Dick Oatts, alto saxophone
Bruce Barth, piano
Tim Warfield, tenor saxophone
Mike Boone, bass
Justin Faulkner, drums
Whatever its reputation for being brash and confrontational (justified, but well-intentioned), Philly has long been a nurturing place for music. The Sound of Philadelphia is one of the cornerstones of soul, and the city was certainly a cradle for rock and roll, wherever you feel its birthplace might have been. And then there’s jazz.
Ever since it became one of the key destination points for The Great Migration, landing future icons like Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane within the city limits, Philadelphia has been a rich source for generations of jazz greats. The list of names that have emerged from the City of Brotherly Love and gone on to shape the music in vital ways could fill the remainder of these notes.
The four composers represented on the present album – Trane, McCoy Tyner, Lee Morgan, and Jimmy Heath – are among the most celebrated and influential of those names. But generation after generation, the outflow has continued. From those bop-rooted pioneers through the organ greats that forged their soulful sound in the city; avant-gardists like Sun Ra and fusion alchemists like the Brecker Brothers; through the classmates-turned-masters generation of Christian McBride, Kurt Rosenwinkel and the late Joey DeFrancesco down to rising stars of today like Immanuel Wilkins, the continuum is a striking one.
The gifted musicians that make up the jazz faculty of Temple University recognize their place in that lineage, helping to shape the next generation of innovators. The membership of the Temple Jazz Sextet is such that this would be an all-star group without the renowned school’s imprimatur. The fact that Terell Stafford, Tim Warfield, Dick Oatts, Bruce Barth, Mike Boone and Justin Faulkner unite so vibrantly under the university’s banner just goes to prove how important they deem its educational mission.
There’s nothing didactic about the music on Fly With the Wind, however. This exhilarating outing is a chance for these six brilliant artists to look back at some of the key figures who have shaped their voices as well as the music as a whole.
“For me this album represents the rich tradition of songs written by Philly composers,” says Barth, who selected and arranged the four compositions on Fly With the Wind. “I hope we captured the spirit of Philadelphia music. I think the Philly vibe, in terms of the deep feel for the rhythm and the blues and a certain deep soulfulness, comes through in the playing.”
Named for the title track from Tyner’s string-drenched 1976 Milestone debut, Fly With the Wind also allows the ensemble to bid a loving farewell to two legends close to their hearts who passed away in the last few years. Stafford in particular worked closely with both Tyner and Heath, the latter also being a dear friend and supporter of the Temple jazz program. “Their music still carries on,” Stafford eulogizes, “so that helps carry us through their loss.”
Heath’s “All Members” was recorded by the diminutive saxophonist and his quartet on 1975’s Picture of Heath. Barth’s arrangement slows the piece down a touch without losing any of its robust swagger. Propelled by the lurching swing laid down by Boone and Faulkner, the tune sparks an incisive solo from Stafford, who the wordplay-loving Heath nicknamed “Staff Inflection.” That’s followed by Warfield’s gritty honk and then Oatts with a more lithe and lyrical turn. Barth’s nimble keyboard dance leads into a steely yet understated statement from Boone.
The band’s take on Trane’s classic “Naima” luxuriates in its languid, aching melody while enveloping it in rich, haunting new harmonies. Warfield’s breathy solo may cause listeners to catch themselves holding their breaths in the face of its hushed intimacy, while Boone answers with a heartfelt, elegant beauty.
“Yes I Can, No You Can’t” is reprised from Stafford’s 2015 tribute to Lee Morgan, BrotherLee Love, which also featured Warfield and Barth. “Sometimes people sleep on what an interesting and sophisticated composer Lee Morgan was,” Barth says. “Sure, that tune is a down home, funky 24-bar blues. But when you look closely at the melody it’s just so hip and sophisticated.” Barth elaborated that melody into three-part harmony for the frontline, setting the groove-fueled pace for Faulkner’s explosive drum feature.
At more than 13 minutes, “Fly With the Wind” is the album’s breathtaking centerpiece. Announced by a portentous fanfare devised by Barth, the song launches at a relentless pace and never lets up. The passion poured into this performance by all six members of the sextet exemplifies the esteem in which Tyner was held. Barth has long acknowledged the pianist’s importance in his own development, paying homage with two earlier compositions of his own: “Blues for Mr. Tyner” on the Temple sextet’s previous release, Family Feeling, and “Let’s Go” on his most recent solo album, Dedication.
“McCoy played with an intensity that’s hard to describe and that we all strive to get to,” Barth says. “The power and the depth of his expression came through on the records, but there were a few times hearing him live where it was almost an otherworldly experience.”
Barth tailored the solo sections for his bandmates, having Stafford and Oatts play over the changes but then crafting a C Minor vamp for Warfield, unleashing a blistering blowing session that gives away to a pugilistic duet between the saxophonist and Faulkner’s thunderous drumming.
Having played with Tyner so often, Stafford was able to get closer to that estimable power than anyone. “To record ‘Fly With the Wind’ with these guys and create that same energy that I remember from playing with McCoy was unbelievable,” he describes.
The camaraderie that Stafford hints at is key to the Temple Jazz Sextet and to the infectious joy that shines through on Fly With the Wind. “The choice of tunes on this album really speaks to my heart,” he says, “and of course the guys that play them are all my close colleagues and friends. When you play with your boys, the music is different because you trust them and they trust you. You just want to play because it feels so good.”
“The wonderful thing about writing for friends that you know and admire,” adds Barth, “is that you’re so familiar with their voices that you’re writing for. I sometimes use the term, ‘The pencil moves itself.’ They all have such distinctive musical voices and I’m probably their biggest fan. It’s an exciting and inspiring experience and an honor to be tapped to write music for them.”
-- Shaun Brady
Philadelphia, February 2023
Jazz pianist and composer Bruce Barth has been sharing his music with listeners the world over for more than thirty-five years. In addition to traveling widely performing his own music, he has also performed with revered jazz masters, and has collaborated with leading musicians of his own generation. Zan Stewart of the Newark Star Ledger writes: “No one sounds quite like Barth. His solos are characterized by robust swing, his ability to tell a story, and by his rich, beguiling sound.”
Originally from Pasadena, California, Barth arrived on the New York jazz scene in 1988, and soon started working in the bands of Stanley Turrentine and Terence Blanchard. Barth’s first two CDs as a leader, In Focus and Morning Call, were chosen for the New York Times’ top ten lists. These recordings displayed not only his powerfully fluent piano playing, but also the scope of his own compositions and his imaginative arrangements of jazz standards.
Barth has performed on over 135 recordings and movie soundtracks, including seventeen as a leader. As a leader of his trio and larger ensembles, Barth has performed at major venues in the United States, Europe, and Japan; he has led bands at many major venues in New York, The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and major festivals in UK, Spain, Sweden, and Portugal.
Barth has performed and recorded extensively as a member of the Terell Stafford Quartet for more than fifteen years. He has had extended collaborations with Steve Wilson, Luciana Souza, Steve Nelson, and Tony Bennett; and has performed with James Moody, Phil Woods, Freddie Hubbard, Tom Harrell, Luis Bonilla, Rene Marie, Branford Marsalis and Adam Kolker.
Barth has been on the faculty of Temple University for more than twenty-five years, teaches at Columbia University and has given master classes around the globe.
Legendary bassist Mike Boone began with piano lessons at the age of eight, later attended the prestigious Eastman School of Music to study bass. After touring with Ben Vereen and Buddy Rich, he moved to Philly in 1983.
When he got to Philly, he put down his electric bass and picked up the acoustic; it was the only way to get gigs with the aging titans who still very much ran the Philly scene then. He immersed himself in that scene, playing at the old, beloved Ortlieb’s, educated by teachers like saxophonist Bootsie Barnes, organist Shirley Scott, pianist Sid Simmons, and drummer Mickey Roker. He found himself in the company of legendary Philadelphia musicians, including John Swana, Sid Simmons, Byron Landham and many more. Boone especially recalls his tutelage from Trudy Pitts and Bill “Mr. C” Carney’s insistence that he convert from electric to acoustic bass.
Bassist Nicholas Krolak, a rising star based in Philadelphia, calls Boone, “The patriarch of the Philly jazz scene, mentor to all…and the torch-bearer of the Philly jazz tradition.” That encapsulates everything Boone is about. Above his own individual accolades as an instrumentalist, which are numerous and deserved, he’s the consummate steward of this music, in this place—a protector of the realm.
As a leader, Boone has produced a few albums of his own. Nowadays, he is often accompanied on stage by his teenage son, musical prodigy Mekhi Boone, who plays drums. Ultimately, for the elder Boone, it is all about the power of music.
Boone is currently an adjunct professor of jazz at Temple University.
Philadelphia native, drummer, educator, and philanthropist Justin Faulkner has cultivated a sound that invites, entertains, informs and heals. Faulkner has shared the stage with musical luminaries like Kenny Barron, Jimmy Heath, Orrin Evans, Ornette Coleman, Sean Jones, Tim Warfield, Bernard Purdie, Pharoah Saunders, Terence Blanchard, Mingus Big Band/Dynasty/Orchestra, Bootsie Barnes, Terrence Howard, Bilal, Christian McBride and continues to be the drummer of choice for numerous others.
Faulkner’s training began at the Girard Academic High School Music Program (GAMP). He studied classical percussion with Susan Jones, and jazz drums and percussion with Samuel Ruttenberg. His experiences at the Kimmel Center created a new understanding of community and the creative ecosystem. The Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts provided freedom of expression, and Philadelphia Orchestra principal timpanist Don Liuzzi cultivated the detail-oriented nature necessary to craft the full musical experiences Faulkner presents. Faulkner played his first professional gig with bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma of Ornette Coleman’s band Primetime at age 13. In the following years, he apprenticed with Orrin Evans, J.D. Walter, Boris Kozlov, Bootsie Barnes, Denise King, Michelle Beckham, and The Charles Mingus Big Band.
Since joining the Branford Marsalis Quartet in 2009, Faulkner has toured the world extensively with performances at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Kennedy Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Sydney Opera House, The Blue Note Jazz Club (Tokyo), Royal Opera House (Oman), Vienna Konzerthaus (Austria), and Concertgebouw (The Netherlands) to name a few. Along with his partners Carol Faulkner and Nazir Ebo, Faulkner created the Community Unity Music Festival to provide music education opportunities for young people and directly impact the gun violence problem in Philadelphia with mantra, “Put down the guns and pick up an instrument.”
Faulkner joined the faculty of Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance in 2019.
Dick Oatts was raised in a musical family in Iowa. He was introduced to the saxophone by his father, Jack Oatts, a respected jazz educator and saxophonist. After attending Drake University for two years, Oatts moved up to Minneapolis-St.Paul to begin his professional career as a full-time musician. After five years, he moved to New York City, where he became a member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. Since then, Oatts has recorded and toured with small groups such as Red Rodney, Eddie Gomez, Vic Juric, Bob Brookmeyer, Mel Lewis, Dom Salvador, Jerry Bergonzi, Flim & the BBs, Fred Hersch, Dave Berkman, Terell Stafford, Jon Faddis, Lalo Schiffrin and Ray Mantilla.
Some of his big band and larger group experience includes performances with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Mel Lewis, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Lester Bowie, Joe Lovano, Sam Jones/Tom Harrell, Paquito D’Rivera, Jim McNeely, Tito Piente, Kenny Wheeler and Gunther Schuller. Oatts has also been featured with the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, WDR Big Band, Norboton Jazz Orchestra and the UMO Big Band in Helsinki. He has accompanied such vocalists as Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Neen Freelon, Mel Torme and Milton Nascimento. He has released three CDs as a leader on the DMP label with pianist and co-leader Garry Dial, as well as recorded solos for pop artists Luther Vandross, James Taylor and Everything but the Girl.
For 40 years, Oatts has appeared at college jazz festivals as a soloist and clinician throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Canada, South America and the Middle East. Prior to his appointment at the Boyer College of Music and Dance, he was a member of the Manhattan School of Music faculty since 1989. He has been an artist-in-residence at the Amsterdam Conservatory since 1997.
Acclaimed trumpet player, educator and performer Terell Stafford has been hailed “one of the great players of our time, a fabulous trumpet player” by piano legend McCoy Tyner. Combining a deep love for melody with his own brand of spirited and adventurous lyricism, Stafford’s uniquely expressive and well-crafted musical talent allows him to dance in and around the rich trumpet tradition of his predecessors while making his own inroads. Since the mid-1990s, Stafford has performed with groups such as Benny Golson’s Sextet, McCoy Tyner’s Sextet, Kenny Barron Quintet, Frank Wess Quintet, Jimmy Heath Quintet and Big Band, Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Alumni Band. Stafford, with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, performed on Diana Krall’s GRAMMY-nominated album From this Moment On (2006). Stafford is also a member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, who was awarded a GRAMMY in 2009 for Best Large Ensemble, Live at the Village Vanguard.
Stafford can be heard on over 130 albums including his own, BrotherLee Love, Celebrating Lee Morgan, which received a 47th Annual NAACP Image Award nomination. The director of jazz studies and chair of instrumental studies at Temple University, Stafford performed alongside his students on Constant Renaissance, a BCM+D release, earning two GRAMMY nominations. Stafford is the founder and band leader of the Terell Stafford Quintet, managing and artistic director for the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, artistic director of jazz for The Philly POPS, and chair of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee for The Philly POPS. He received a bachelor of science in music education from the University of Maryland in 1988 and a master of music from Rutgers University in 1993.
Born in York, Pennsylvania, saxophonist, recording artist and educator Tim Warfield’s professional career began in 1990, when he joined trumpeter and Sony recording artist, Marlon Jordan’s Quintet. Some of his early musical accomplishments include becoming a 1991 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition finalist, as well as involvement in many musical collaborations with such artists as Donald Byrd, Christian McBride, Nicholas Payton, Terell Stafford, Dizzy Gillespie, Shirley Scott, Jimmy Smith, Nicholas Payton, Stefon Harris, Isaac Hayes, and many others.
Now a veteran musician on nearly 80 recordings, with a total of 11 titles as a leader, the continuation of his musical journey includes arts advocacy and education, where Tim now serves as a board member and Artistic Director for the nonprofit organization, the Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz. He is also an appointed council member for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, as well as a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for 10 years. Tim currently serves as “Artist in Residence,” at Messiah College, and Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the Jazz Masters of Music Graduate Program at Temple University.
Tim is currently a member of the Terell Stafford Quintet and the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, His latest recording entitled Jazzland, features Terell Stafford, Pat Bianchi, Byron Landham and Daniel Sadownick.
Executive Producers: David Pasbrig and Robert Stroker
Recording, Mixing and Mastering Engineer: David Pasbrig
Assistant Engineer: Manu Gajanan
Design: Pao Navarro
Recorded March 23, 2022 at Temple Performing Arts Center, Philadelphia, PA