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Jazz For The Ages - CD Review
Aug. 23, 2012
By Michael McDowell

The Shape of Things To Come

Jimmy Mulidore (Muldoon Jams)

Within rock and roll circles, a sure sign of a lack of a cohesive mission statement is a professed deference on the part of a given performer to the genre¹s lowest common denominator. In other words, given the vast and richly diverse legacy of the genre at large, a proclamation of being inspired solely by the music of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley could be considered tangible evidence of a lack of individualism or creativity.


Likewise, within the punk sub-genre, the profession of solidarity with such frequently invoked bands as the Velvet Underground and the Stooges is almost invariably indicative of a lack of commitment to acquiring the necessary acumen to do their own work justice. For that matter, both the Velvet Underground and the Stooges only peripherally identified with the movement, and neither of them was a part of it from its inception.

By that reasoning, it would seem logical that amongst jazz practitioners, citing such front runners as Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald would be little more than bandwagon jumping. Nonetheless, such concerns have to date not proven to be a deterrent to many a newcomer who has invoked those names with considerable impunity and no small degree of technical savvy, but more often than not without the indispensable attribute of heart.

As such, Youngstown, Ohio native and Ohio State University alumnus Jimmy Mulidore will no doubt raise similar concerns with his latest release, Jazz For The Ages. Therein, the acclaimed clarinetist presents several milestones from the pen of whom many regard as one of jazz¹s absolute masters, the late saxophone virtuoso, John Coltrane.

To that effect, Mulidore tackles the some of the high watermarks of the John Coltrane songbook, including Countdown (from Giant Steps, Atlantic SD1311), Satellite (from the 1960 album Coltrane¹s Soundon Atlantic SD1419) and the obvious title tracks from Giant Steps and A Love Supreme (from Impulse SMAS-09215). But where Mulidore differs in his endeavors from previous attempts by others is in execution. By definition, the typical John Coltrane work (if indeed anything from his vast and diverse catalog can be referred to as ³typical²) demands the utmost in technical proficiency, although its often spontaneous nature (particularly in his Impulse-era output) generally leaves even the most determined, self-assured hopeful falling short of the goal.

But where Mulidore succeeds while others have failed is in his determination to add something original to Coltrane¹s material without compromising its integrity. With a group of sidemen who are more than capable of the task at hand (including trumpeter Randy Brecker, keyboardsmen Ron Feuer and Dave Ring, bassist Arnold Jacks, drummer Santo Savino and others), Mulidore is able to successfully bring those most eloquent of fundamentals to the table, such as the familiar plodding motif indigenous to the fourth and final Psalm movement of A Love Supreme and the protracted resolve of Giant Steps that gave the original much of its dynamic tension.

And to Mulidore¹s considerable credit, his stamp of originality comes via the most obvious of components: his choice of instrument. While the saxophone and clarinet have much in common as woodwinds (including the basic fingerings of each, particularly in reference to the alto saxophone), their application in a given setting can bring a whole new dimension to a given work. Consider, for example, the change in mood, had Acker Bilk¹s classic clarinet instrumental, Stranger On The Shore been instead rendered on a tenor saxophone, or if the late Dennis Payton¹s pulsating saxophone solos on the Dave Clark Five¹s On The Move were executed on clarinet. With the simple switch to bass clarinet, that aforementioned motif in Psalm takes on a whole new dimension.

Not content by any stretch of the imagination to be a covers artist, Mulidore underscores his commitment to a diverse mission statement with several original compositions that, while certainly inspired by Coltrane, nonetheless contain enough of a sense of adventure to irrefutably assert his originality. They include Muldoon¹s Journey, For Moody¹s Sake and Muldoon¹s Mood. What Mulidore may have momentarily overlooked here in diversity in terms of song titles is more than compensated for by the rare combination of capability and compassion that characterizes each of these efforts. To round out the proceedings, Jazz For The Ages also includes a lone vocal by Anita Lea, the superb take on A Time For Love, as well as similarly inspired renditions of Theodore Walter ³Sonny² Rollins¹ Doxie and one time Sam Butera sideman and trumpeter Buck Monari¹s Rowena.

None of these remarkable accomplishments should come as a surprise, given Mulidore¹s extensive track record. He has previously collaborated with Billy May, Ralph Marterie, the Red Norvo Quintet and has served as a sideman for Ann Margret, Louie Bellson, Nat ³King² Cole, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. But since Jazz For The Ages will no doubt serve as an introduction to many in his role as a band leader, Mulidore (who is also equally proficient on the alto and tenor saxophone) opted to drive the point home with a companion DVD, Jimmy Mulidore And His New York City Jazz Band, which showcases many of the highlights of Jazz For The Ages along with such duly-inspired takes on Billy Strayhorn¹s Lush Life, Miles Davis¹ All Blues and the Paul Whiteman/Ozzie Nelson/Coleman Hawkins standard, Body And Soul.

In short, while the notion of an all encompassing proclamation like Jazz For The Ages may seem a bit presumptuous to those who are unfamiliar with his earlier work (including Invitation, The Gripper and the Phil Woods collaboration, Alto Summit In Las Vegas), Mulidore nonetheless has herein delivered with the assurance of the seasoned veteran that he is, tempered with the boundless enthusiasm (and thankfully minus the self indulgence) of a rookie. Giant Steps indeed, but steps taken with the guarantee of leaving a most impressionable footprint.

Blitz's web site: http://blitzmag.blogspot.com

Another "Jazz For The Ages" review:

CD Review:

JIMMY MULIDORE & His New York Jazz Band:
The DVD might have something of a DIY feel and look, but the cats are blazing. With Richie Cole and Randy Brecker bringing their axes along for the windy front line ride, the set card is a heaping helping of some straight ahead classic jazz that¹s really in the right hands here. Dead solid perfect stuff that easily has the original composers and performers smiling, there isn¹t a false note anywhere here. And, if you slip it in your computer, you can enjoy is as a record without the visuals while you multi task with some great new performances plugging away in the background. Well done.

CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Midwest Record

And one more review:

The packaging for the CD version of Jazz For The Ages is sparse: a cover and tray card with blank backings, and a CD that’s pressed on a CD-R. Not sure if I received a promotional copy or all copies are like this, but if you are someone who simply wants the music, perfect. Jimmy Mulidore is the artist for you who cuts to the chase and says here, this is what you wanted, no B.S.

The packaging may be budgeted but the music is not, as it has a wealth of original Mulidore compositions along with classics like “Giant steps”, “A Love Supreme”, “It’s You Or No One”, “Countdown”, “Freedom Jazz Dance”, and “Doxie”. You can hear the influences in Mulidore’s playing with these John Coltrane, Eddie Harris, and Sonny Rollins tracks, but it’s also nice to hear someone apply their years of interest, love, and expertise in these songs to show why it is truly Jazz For The Ages, because they hold up well years after the fact and why these tracks were vibrant in the first place. Yes, even though “Giant Steps” is considered the default for many saxophonists, it’s still great to hear it championed in the way it is here.

Published September 2nd, 2012 on This Is Book's Music website.


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