Hour 6: The Legacy of Leonard Bernstein: Joe Policastro, Bobby Sanabria, Ted Nash, Jason Moran, Jane Ira Bloom

Bobby Sanabria and the Multiverse Big Band

In 2018, Leonard Bernstein would have been 100 years old, generating renewed interest in his work. His compositions, especially those from West Side Story continue to inspire many fine jazz performances with their beautiful melodies, compelling rhythms, and unique harmony. 100th birthday tributes by Bobby Sanabria & the Multiverse Big Band and, on the other end of the spectrum, Joe Policastro and Ted Nash in trio settings plus more jazz responses to the Maestro – in this hour of Jazz at 100 Today!

Big Stuff from Fancy Free
Before we get to West Side Story, a dozen years before that milestone Broadway opening, Bernstein wrote the score for a Jerome Robbins ballet, Fancy Free, which included the song Big Stuff, written with Billie Holiday in mind. In 2010, Jason Moran celebrated a decade with his trio (Jason Moran – piano, Taurus Mateen – bass, Nasheet Waits – drums) by releasing the celebrated disc Ten, including his version of the classic, Big Stuff, illustrating his influences from Fats Waller and Art Tatum.

Big Stuff. Jason Moran Trio
(Jason Moran-p, Tarus Mateen-b, Nasheet Waits-d). From Ten. Blue Note. 2010.

Prologue, The Jet Song & America
West Side Story begins with one of Broadway’s most memorable prologues, complete with tension-building finger snapping and moves into the swinging Jet Song. We will listen to bassist Joe Policasto and his trio performing the Prologue from his tribute West Side Suite, followed by Bobby Sanabria and his Multiverse Big Band presenting the Jet Song and America. His 2018 release West Side Story Reimagined imbeds the Bernstein score in layers of Latin and West African rhythms.

Prologue. Joe Policastro Trio
(Dan Effland-g, Joe Policastro-b, Adam Sorensen-d). From West Side Story Suite. Jeru Jazz. 2013.
Jet Song. Bobby Sanabria & Multiverse Big Band
(Bryan, Clayton, Darché, Neesley, Miller, Sessions, Vergara, Washburne, Dejesus, Gould, Brainin, Mayman, Garo, Sutin, Sanabria, Noguera, Traversa, Abrantes, Gonzales, Heisho). From West Side Story Reimagined. Jazzheads. 2018.
America. Bobby Sanabria & Multiverse Big Band
(Bryan, Clayton, Darché, Neesley, Miller, Sessions, Vergara, Washburne, Dejesus, Gould, Brainin, Mayman, Garo, Sutin, Sanabria, Noguera, Traversa, Abrantes, Gonzales, Heisho). From West Side Story Reimagined. Jazzheads. 2018.

Cool & Tonight
Tenor sax and clarinet player Ted Nash recorded his Somewhere Else – West Side Story Songs with a trio of Steve Cardenas on guitar and Ben Allison on Bass in 2018. Allen Morrison at Downbeat said it well, “…the album is a revelation; three superlative musicians reveling in the Bernstein score’s most emotional moments with tenderness and candor. One has to believe the maestro, who loved the kind of jazz energy and imagination on display here, would have approved.”

Cool. Ted Nash Trio
(Ted Nash-ts, Steve Cardenas-g, Ben Allison-b). From Somewhere Else – West Side Story Songs. Plastic Sax Records. 2019
Tonight. Ted Nash Trio
(Ted Nash-ts, Steve Cardenas-g, Ben Allison-b). From Somewhere Else – West Side Story Songs. Plastic Sax Records. 2019

Maria & Something Coming
When not teaching or producing records, thirty-two year old trombonist Nick Finzer has made a series of compelling records. His 2018 release, No Arrival, included a lovely reading of the beautiful ballad Maria. After winning the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2010, Cécile McLorin Salvant released some of the most highly-regarded discs of the decade including the 2015 release For One To Love, which featured an epic version of Something’s Coming with a tour de force performance by pianist Aaron Diehl.

Maria. Nick Finzer Sextet
(Nick Finzer-tb, Lucas Pino-cl/ts, Victor Gould-p, Alex Wintz-g, Dave Baron-b, Jimmy MacBride-d). From No Arrival. Posi-tone Records. 2018.
Something’s Coming. Cécile McLorin Salvant Quartet
(Aaron Diehl-p, Paul Sikivie-b, Lawrence Leathers-d, Cécile McLorin Salvant-voc). From For One To Love. Mack Avenue. 2015.

Somewhere
Has any Broadway show ever had three ballads as memorable as Maria, Tonight and Somewhere? To finish our exploration of recent recordings of Bernstein’s compositions, we will turn to the last of this trio now, with an achingly beautiful solo soprano sax version by Jane Ira Bloom from her 2016 release, Early Americans, followed a dramatic rendition by Tierney Sutton the 2011 disc, American Road.

Somewhere. Jane Ira Bloom solo
(Jane Ira Bloom-ss). From Early Americans. 2016.
Somewhere. Tierney Sutton Band
(Christian Jacob-p, Trey Henry-b, Kevin Axt-b, Ray Brinker-d, Tierney Sutton-voc). From American Road. BFM Jazz. 2011

Over fifty years after their startling debut, the great Leonard Bernstein & Steven Sondheim compositions of West Side Story continue to inspire new generations of jazz musicians.

Resources
Carey, William. (2010, June 16). AllAboutJazz. Jason Moran: Ten. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/jason-moran-ten-by-william-carey.php

Bowers, Jack. (2018, August 29). AllAboutJazz. Bobby Sanabria: West Side Story Reimagined. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/west-side-story-reimagined-bobby-sanabria-jazzheads-review-by-jack-bowers.php

Morrison, Allen. (2019, November). Downbeat. Ted Nash Somewhere Else: West Side Story Songs. https://downbeat.com/reviews/detail/somewhere-else-west-side-story-songs

Bilawsky, Dan. (2018, May 19). AllAboutJazz. Nick Finzer: No Arrival. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/no-arrival-nick-finzer-posi-tone-records-review-by-dan-bilawsky.php

Loudon, Christopher. (2019, April 25 – updated). JazzTimes. Cécile McLorin Salvant : For One to Love. https://jazztimes.com/reviews/albums/cecile-mclorin-salvant-for-one-to-love/

Sullivan, Mark. (2016, May 14). AllAboutJazz. Jane Ira Bloom: Early Americans. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/early-americans-jane-ira-bloom-outline-review-by-mark-sullivan.php

Rose, Raul D’Gama. (2011, November 25). AllAboutJazz. The Tierney Sutton Band: American Road. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/american-road-tierney-sutton-bfm-review-by-raul-dgama-rose.php

For other programs in Jazz at 100 Today! visit: Jazz at 100 Today!

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