Dallas Jazz Orchestra Presents Victor Cager[CD]
Big Band Jazz! The words themselves conjure up a unique picture of sound: a wall of horns sounding like one big instrument pushed by a driving rhythm section. Then the wall opens a door and a soloist pushes through. The soloist challenges the wall or flirts with it, and then he is folded back within the wall as it presses on again. And the sound calls you forward, to listen, dance, to enjoy. The Dallas Jazz Orchestra keeps this big band jazz tradition alive and the sound vibrant with inspired musicians, working together in ensemble or standing out as soloists, joyously playing music they wan to play. And DJO Artistic Director Curt Bradshaw, a fine player in his own right, wrote many of the charts, writing and coaxing the best from this wonderful group of players. His talent especially shines through in his writing to showcase a fine natural singer with a deep, lush voice - Victor Cager. Cager's voice is rich with an innate vibrato, yet he can sing in a whisper. He shifts delivery and cadence seamlessly, singing emotionally without pathos. Listen to his definite and unforced time sense on 'Fly Me to the Moon', his relaxed rhythm on 'Our Love Is Here to Stay'. Cager shifts on 'I Thought About You' from haunting memory to rueful comment (the crack-track-back segment of Johnny Mercer's lyrics). Cager let's the lyrical sense of each song's narrative lead him to an almost conversational delivery that tells the story in the song. It's great, honest singing, unpretentious and human - on every song he sings! And then there are the fine soloists sprinkled throughout Cager's vocal numbers like subtle seasoning: Evans's tastiness, Agster's robustness, Carrol's fluid grace, Schloss's plaintiveness, and all too briefly, Baker's organic lines. The instrumental cuts also feature fine solos: a whimsical call and response duet by Sato and Schloss on 'Harvey', a haunting then explosive searching by Carrol on his own 'Sweet Audrey', another piercing solo by Schloss and great piano fills by Jones on 'Miss Jones'. Echoic punctuations of the 'Minor Adjustment' line by Burgess and Galleo and Jones. Baker's organic swinging on' Emily' affects the entire band, and Spenser's solo work on 'I Got It Bad' reveals a great lead player who also plays good jazz. It's all here: good players, a fine singer, solid charts, wonderful solos, and always that tight and relaxed ensemble, that wall of sound that opens up now and then to let a soloist or a singer tell a story. And it calls you forward, to listen, to dance, to enjoy. John Gunter Victor Cager I was born on August 8,1960 in Dallas, Texas at Parkland Memorial Hospital. When I was six months old, my brother and I were adopted by my aunt and uncle who were both 53 years old. I refer to them as my mother and father. They operated a barber and beauty shop in West Dallas for 49 years. My father's first love was big band Jazz such as Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, and especially Count Basie with Jos Williams, whom I had the privilege to meet after his last show in Dallas. My father's big band records were my first introduction to Jazz. We had a lot of records and music was very important to our family. I heard everything from Mr. 'B' Billy Eckstine, Roy Hamilton, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Jimmy Smith and the New York Philharmonic with Leonard Bernstein. We would even listen to spoken word documentary type LP's like the one about the funeral of President Kennedy. My father insisted we read 'all the right books and listen to all the right music.' Music has always been my first love. My family socialized, danced and enjoyed themselves while listening to some of the greatest music ever recorded. Although I was adopted by my aunt and uncle I still had a significant relationship with my biological father, who happened to be my uncle's younger brother. As a youngster I played saxophone and my biological father introduced me to the recordings of Charlie Parker. When I came home from school and heard recordings of Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis playing Dobbin with Redd Foxx I Knew my daddy was in the house. He told me stories about jazz musicians such as Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan and Gene Ammons - who was his favorite - and I remember thinking Gene's horn must have been bigger than the other cats because of his sound. Following in my biological father's footsteps, I developed a deep love for bebop. Unfortunately I also walked in his shoes when I succumbed to the disease of addiction which plagued me for many years. In 1986 my mother (aunt) died after a lengthy illness and over the next eight years I lost practically my entire family including my beloved Uncle Jim, as well as both biological parents. I hadn't seen my biological mother since I was 4 years old. As a result of these losses I went into a deep depression that went undiagnosed for several years. I believe that hardship and trouble and the grace to bear it often come in the same package. If we never confront ourselves we begin excusing our behavior. Through recovery I discovered God had given me an inner strength. I will forever be blessed with a deep love of God for saving. My life. As a child I was blessed with a strong love and need for music and the arts. God used this love as the anchor for my recovery. After I began to recover and practice aggressive faith, I started to realize all God had in store for me and my musical mountaintop experiences began! The first musicians to give me a break were the ones I idolized as a child. My Uncle Red King, Professor Eddie Washington, Claude Johnson and Roger Boykin were my first musical mentors but it was the great vocal song stylist Ms Sandra Kaye who first shared her stage with me and I'm forever thankful to her for being so gracious! It was she who assured me that I did indeed have what it takes to pursue a life in music. She has been a true friend and angel to me! God will always provide an angel in times of uncertainty. My first professional singing job was at The Dallas Museum of Art in 1999 with pianist Claude Johnson, bassist Buddy Mohmed, drummer Andrew Griffith, and saxophonist Shelley Carrol. I'm a member of the most blessed generation to ever live on this planet and God has given me the privilege to record my first CD with The Dallas Jazz Orchestra, one of the best Jazz Orchestras in the country! God has blessed me with four daughters: Alexis, Emma, Jamie and Jazzeline Minette. Where God guides he always provides! The Dallas Jazz Orchestra decided to create a CD that represented exactly how we sound in concert. Recording technology has advanced to a level of sophistication unheard of just a few years ago. Ensembles are able to record tracks and send the recorded files to any location in the world, where other musicians are able to contribute to the recording and when finished send it back for mix and master. Ensembles of all sizes and styles record using sequential tracking and achieve a level of balance and an ambience producing superb quality recordings for their respective jazz fans. With a good sound engineer, these bands are able to duplicate the quality of their CD's in live performances. This same recording technology has also enabled bands to misrepresent themselves as they produce recordings they could never duplicate in a live situation. Perhaps most concerning is the possibility that musicians are able to misrepresent that which is supposed to be most sacred to us, 'our creative process.' Our approach and goal was to record with the intent of capturing our musical moments that best represent the spirit of the band. On June 29, 2005 at noon the entire band, with Victor Cager, congregated at Big Time Audio Studio of Dallas, Texas. Victor would later return to the studio with pianist Arlington Jones to record the rubato sections of his vocal tracks but we needed Victor on the session so the rhythm section could 'comp' his phrases rather than do 'minus one' ran dom accompaniments. At 1:00pm we recorded some excerpts in an effort to adjust seating for best balance as each musician was facing the microphone from a slightly different angle and distance. All four trumpets centered around one Cardioid Manley microphone. The trombones gathered around a Neumann U89 microphone and the saxes centered themselves around a Neumann U87 microphone. The lid on the piano was high enough so all soloists could hear the changes and play their solos in 'reel' time. We dubbed in only two solo tracks on 'I Got It Bad' which was originally written as a vocal feature. After playing lead on the band track, Larry Spencer added his flugel/trumpet solo track and Mike Morrison added his baritone sax solo. We took several short breaks with comments, jokes and laughter enabling us to escape the tension from intense concentration resulting in our ability to record twelve tunes in four hours. We did two takes of 'Emily', 'Minor Adjustment' and 'I Got It Bad'. The remaining nine tunes we recorded in one take. All 12 tracks were recorded in four hours, and we packed up to leave the studio at 5:00pm. The ability to accomplish such a task is a testament to the quality of musicianship and giving spirit of the individual members of the band as we provide you with an inspiring combination of Victor Cager songs and arrangements highlighting the music of The Dallas Jazz Orchestra.
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