Without You, No Me
Honoring the Legacy of Jimmy Heath
Temple University Jazz Band
Terell Stafford, director
Joey DeFrancesco, organ
Christian McBride, bass
January 19, 2020 bears a bittersweet tinge in Terell Stafford’s memory. On one hand, Temple University’s Director of Jazz and Instrumental Studies recalls that day with a great deal of pride and celebration, as the Temple University Jazz Band took top honors in the inaugural Jack Rudin Jazz Championship at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
That same night, however, Stafford received the sad news that the legendary saxophonist Jimmy Heath had died at the age of 93. Since their days touring together with the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band, Stafford had been fortunate to call Heath a friend, a colleague, a mentor and a confidante.
“Jimmy Heath was an incredible human being,” Stafford says. “When I got the phone call saying that he had just passed, I was totally devastated and broken. The next day I called [Temple Dean Robert T. Stroker] and said, ‘I hope we can find a way to honor Mr., Heath this year.’ So we started to prepare some music -- and then the pandemic hit.”
Ah yes, that by now familiar refrain. At this writing, more than a year and a half later, January 2020 feels like a lifetime ago. The events of last year hardly bear repeating; no matter where you read these words and hear this music, the Covid-19 pandemic had its effect on your existence. It certainly disrupted the lives of the students and faculty at Temple, though the music, as always, found a way.
Thanks to the tenacity and ingenuity of Stafford and his colleagues, Without You, No Me is the second new album released by the Temple University Jazz Band in the wake of the pandemic. The first, the aptly-titled Covid Sessions: A Social Call, was recorded long-distance, in student’s homes across the country, via the innovative portable sound rigs devised by Grammy and Emmy Award-winning recording engineer John Harris and Temple Music Technology Professor Dr. David Pasbrig.
Without You, No Me was captured at much closer range. The musicians were able to convene in the spacious confines of the Temple Performing Arts Center in April 2021, with filters and covers over the bells of the horn players and breaks every half hour for air exchange. The 12 feet of space and plexiglass dividers between them were less than optimal but still an improvement over the miles and days that had separated them on their previous outing. Harris and Pasbrig’s rigs were dusted off to facilitate this session’s special guests, bassist Christian McBride and organist Joey DeFrancesco.
Whatever the obstacles presented by these most unprecedented of circumstances, it was clearly worth it to honor an artist who has meant so much to the music and to the city of Philadelphia as well as to Temple University, its students and its director. Along with his brothers, bassist Percy and drummer Albert “Tootie,” Jimmy Heath is Philly jazz royalty, a master saxophonist, composer and bandleader who has contributed several tunes to the jazz canon, including “CTA,” “Gingerbread Boy,” and “For Minors Only.”
The title track of the present album, “Without You, No Me,” was originally commissioned by Dizzy Gillespie and named in the iconic trumpeter’s honor. Here it comes full circle, acknowledging the foundational influence that Jimmy Heath has had on generations of jazz musicians, Terell Stafford among them. Famous for his teasing, pun-happy nicknames, Heath christened the younger trumpeter “Staff Inflection.”
“He was almost like a father to me,” Stafford explains. “When I started at Temple, he was the first person I called. He gave me such great advice: ‘Just teach yourself,’ he said. ‘Teach who you are. Figure out what you do, how you do it and teach that. And that will be what the students will need.’ He would constantly call to check on the students and came to the school whenever he could to conduct master classes and give concerts at Temple.”
In the same spirit Todd Bashore, a former student of Mr. Heath’s at Queens College, composed album opener “Passing of the Torch” in honor of his mentor. Heath’s compositional gifts are further represented by “The Voice of the Saxophone,” rendered in lush and vibrant hues by this stellar ensemble.
Tragically, Jimmy Heath was not the only loss that Philadelphia endured over the past year. The great tenor saxophonist Bootsie Barnes, a linchpin of the Philly jazz scene, passed in April at the age of 82. The young saxophonist and bandleader Jack Saint Clair, a Temple alumnus, composed the rollicking “Bootsie” in Barnes’ honor, its muscular yet relaxed swing offering a knowing portrait of the wryly laconic jazzman.
Saint Clair also contributes a brassy rendition of the standard “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone” and a sultry arrangement of a piece from another Philly jazz giant, organist Shirley Scott, with whom Bootsie shared the stage many times. Both tracks showcase the clarion vocals of Danielle Dougherty while Scott’s “The Blues Ain’t Nothin’ (But Some Pain)” encourages the band to dig deep into their own blues to capture the tune’s sense of heartache and remorse.
Hall of Fame basketball coach John Chaney, who led Temple to 17 NCAA tournaments during his 24 seasons at the University, was another icon in the city whose influence reached far beyond the court. The night he died in January, Christian McBride called Stafford to suggest an homage to Chaney. The bass great composed “The Wise Old Owl,” inspired by the school’s avian mascot as well as the coach’s reputation as a sage counselor to so many of his students. The tune unfolds with a nail-biting dramatic arc that vividly conveys Chaney’s grace under pressure, an elegant demeanor that suddenly erupts into kinetic action.
McBride lends his robust voice to John Clayton’s vigorous arrangement of the classic “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” engaging in a spirited dialogue between his nimble, eloquent bass and the joyous ensemble. To close the album he’s reunited with lifelong friend Joey DeFrancesco (albeit remotely) for a brisk romp through living legend saxophonist Larry McKenna’s arrangement of Juan Tizol’s “Perdido,” which prompts blistering turns from both of these virtuosic Philly natives. DeFrancesco’s jaw-dropping organ skills are on full display on his own “In That Order,” which the great pianist Bill Cunliffe arranged for the occasion.
The title Without You, No Me acknowledges a debt to the past, one that is paid by keeping memories alive. While it’s safe to say that much about this album falls under the category of the unforgettable – recorded during an unforgettable period in history, undertaken in honor of some of the city and the music’s most unforgettable visionaries – it nonetheless repays that debt with dazzling enthusiasm and gratitude. As Jimmy Heath once wrote about his relationship to Dizzy Gillespie, the experience is “like being on a musical mountaintop or hitting a high note.”
-- Shaun Brady
Philadelphia, August 2021
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Without You, No Me is available for streaming and download on all major platforms.
Selected Reviews and Press
Led by Director of Jazz Studies and Laura H. Carnell Professor of Jazz Terell Stafford, the Temple University Jazz Band (TUJB) performs on Temple’s main campus and throughout the greater Philadelphia region, and hosts the annual Essentially Ellington Eastern Regional High School Jazz Band Festival. The band won first place recognition at the Inaugural Jack Rudin Jazz Competition at Jazz at Lincoln Center, a competition that featured the top ten jazz programs in the country. In addition, the ensemble received accolades for Outstanding Rhythm Section, Outstanding Trombone Section and Outstanding Trumpet Section. Other festival appearances include the Mellon/PSFS Jazz Festival, International Association of Jazz Educators Conferences, the East Coast Jazz Festival, the Midwest Clinic International Band and Orchestra Conferences, and the Detroit International Jazz Festival. The TUJB is also a frequent award winner at the annual Villanova Jazz Festival.
In addition to numerous on-campus performances, the TUJB has performed many times at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and performs each spring at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center. In March 2003, the TUJB toured Germany, which included five performances with the Phoenix Foundation Jazz Band. In May 2008, they traveled to Amsterdam where they performed with the Amsterdam Conservatory Jazz Band and at The Hague Jazz Festival. The band has performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with the Terell Stafford Quartet and Carla Cook in a tribute to Dizzy Gillespie and Sarah Vaughan. Other performances in recent seasons have included appearances with John Faddis, Frank Wess, Clark Terry, Joe Wilder, Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Karrin Allyson, and Freddy Cole.
Among the many respected jazz artists who have played with the TUJB on stage, in master classes and in clinics are Wynton Marsalis, The Vanguard Orchestra, Slide Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Dr. Billy Taylor, Max Roach, Frank Wess, Phil Woods, Jon Faddis, Mel Lewis, Dick Oatts, Byron Stripling, Conrad Herwig, Claudio Roditi, Antonio Hart, Carl Allen, JoAnne Brackeen, Regina Carter, Cyrus Chestnut, Joey DeFrancesco, McCoy Tyner, Norman Simmons, Benny Golson, Savion Glover, Joshua Redman, Huston Person, John Clayton, Rene Marie, Wycliffe Gordon, and Marshall Gilkes.
Anthony Aldissi, piano
Michael Raymond, guitar
Nathan Pence, bass
Maria Marmarou, drums
Patrick Hill, alto I
Adam Abrams, alto II
Dylan Band, tenor I
Ross Gerberich, tenor II
Gabe Preston, baritone
Andrew Sedlacsik, trombone I
Bill Saurman, trombone II
David Chodor, trombone III
Omeed Nyman, bass
Fareed Simpson-Hankins, trumpet I
John Meko, trumpet II
John Brunozzi, trumpet III
Banks Sapnar, trumpet IV
Robby Cruz, trumpet V
Terell Stafford has been hailed as “one of the great players of our time” by piano legend McCoy Tyner. Stafford is recognized as an incredibly gifted and versatile player, he combines a deep love of melody with his own brand of spirited and adventurous lyricism. He has played with Benny Golson, Kenny Barron, Frank Wess, Jimmy Heath and Dizzy Gillespie, to name a few. He is a member of the Grammy winning Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and can be heard on 130 albums. Mr. Stafford is the Managing and Artistic Director of The Philly POPS Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, Artistic Director of Jazz for The Philly POPS as well as Laura H. Carnell Professor of Jazz, Director of Jazz Studies, and Chair of Instrumental Studies at Temple University.
Raised in Philadelphia, Christian McBride moved to New York to pursue classical studies at the Juilliard School and was promptly recruited to the road by saxophonist Bobby Watson. Mr. McBride went on to play with jazz artists such as Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins, Ray Brown, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny, as well as with R&B, pop/rock, hip-hop/neo-soul and classical musicians. A seven-time Grammy winning artist, Mr. McBride is also the Artistic Director of the historic Newport Jazz Festival, New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and the TD James Moody Jazz Festival, and the National Jazz Museum of Harlem. McBride is also a respected educator and advocate as the Artistic Director of Jazz House KiDS, and the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer Sessions. In addition to consistent touring, McBride hosts NPR’s “Jazz Night in America” and “The Lowdown: Conversations With Christian” on SiriusXM.
Joey DeFrancesco’s music embodies the traditional art form infused with a distinct modern approach, just part of what makes his music unmistakably his own. Mr. DeFrancesco has recorded and/or toured with his own groups as well as numerous renowned artists that include Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Van Morrison, Diana Krall, Nancy Wilson, George Benson James Moody, John McLaughlin, David Sanborn and many more. The five-time Grammy nominee with more than 30 recordings as a leader has received countless awards and accolades. He hosts a weekly program on SiriusXM Radio’s Real Jazz channel titled “Organized.” Mr. DeFrancesco is credited with the resurgence of the Hammond organ sound in music. He continues to share his knowledge and musical passion through on demand lessons available online as well as educational workshops and master classes.
Joey DeFrancesco and Christian McBride appear courtesy of Mack Avenue Music Group.