JAZZ ON THE MOUNTAIN AT HORSESHOE- Larry Carlton In Concert With Five After Four

JAZZ ON THE MOUNTAIN AT HORSESHOE- Larry Carlton In Concert With Five After Four

LARRY CARLTON

Larry Carlton’s own musical story began in Southern California. He picked up his first guitar when he was only six years old. He was introduced to jazz in junior high school after hearing The Gerald Wilson Big Band album, Moment of Truth, with guitarist Joe Pass. Larry then became interested in Barney Kessel, Wes Montgornery and the legendary blues guitarist B.B. King. Saxophonist John Coltrane was also a major influence on Carlton, beginning with Coltrane’s 1962 classic Ballads.

In 1968 he recorded his first LP, With A Little Help From My Friends (Uni). The enthusiastic industry response garnered him a place among jingle singers The Going Thing, recording on camera and radio commercials for Ford. Mid-season in his second year, he segued to Musical Director for Mrs. Alphabet, an Emmy-nominated children’s show on the same network. It was here that Carlton showcased his acting skills, performing as the show’s co-star, “Larry Guitar.”

Calls began to increase significantly as Carlton gained distinction for the unmistakable and often imitated “sweet” sound he delivered with his Gibson ES-335. He also broke new ground with his new trademark volume pedal technique, eloquently displayed in his featured performance on ­Crusader One with legendary jazz/rock group The Crusaders in 1971. Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark album, the first record she made with a rhythm section, displays his distinctive Technique – a style Mitchell referred to as “fly fishing.”

During his tenure with The Crusaders (through 1976), Carlton performed on 13 of their albums, often contributing material. In 1973, Carlton released his second solo project, SinginglPlaying, on Blue Thumb Records ­ aptly titled, as he not only played guitar, but also performed vocals on eight tracks. Carlton’s demand as a session player was now at its zenith, he was constantly featured with stars from every imaginable genre, ranging from Sammy Davis, Jr., and Herb Alpert to Quincy Jones, Paul Anka, Michael Jackson, John Lennon, Jerry Garcia and Dolly Parton. At the same time, he was still performing more than 50 dates a year with The Crusaders.

Before he transitioned completely to a solo career, Carlton became one of the most in-demand studio musicians of the past three decades. Carlton’s catalog of work includes film soundtracks, television themes and work on more than 100 gold albums.

Ultimately, Carlton began scaling back his session work substantially, while continuing to perform and record with the Crusaders. He shifted his emphasis to the challenges of arranging and producing, and built his own studio-Room 335-in his home. During this period he arranged and produced projects for Barbra Streisand, Joan Baez and Larry Gatlin, as well as producing and co-writing the theme for the hit sitcom Who’s The Boss and co-writing (with Michel Columbier) and arranging the acclaimed movie soundtrack for Against All Odds.

As his association with the Crusaders began to draw to a close, Carlton signed with Warner Bros. Records in 1977. Between ’78 and ’84, Larry recorded six solo albums for Warner Bros. Records: Mr. 335: Live In Japan, Friends; Eight Times Up; Sleep Walk; Strikes Twice; Larry Carlton. The latter self-titled album was released hot on the heels of his debut session with rock supergroup Steely Dan. Rolling Stone magazine lists Carlton’s tasty ascent on Steely Dan’s Kid Charlemagne as one of the three best guitar licks in rock music.

With more than 3000 studio sessions under his belt by the early 1980s, Carlton had picked up four Grammy nominations. In addition to winning a Grammy (`81) for the theme to “Hill Street Blues” (a collaboration with Mike Post), he also was voted NARAS’s “Most Valuable Player” for three consecutive years. NARAS then named him “Player Emeritus” and retired him from eligibility.

In 1985 he was approached by the newly formed MCA Master Series to consider doing an acoustic jazz album. His first release for the new label was Alone, But Never Alone, a consensus No. 1 album on the Radio & Records and Billboard Jazz charts. The twelve months of 1987 brought some of the biggest highlights in Carlton’s solo career. In addition to winning the Grammy for “Minute by Minute,” Carlton received a Grammy nomination for “Best Jazz Fusion Performance” for his live album Last Nite. Coming off of the success of two acoustic albums and one live album, Carlton was on a hot streak and entered the studio to work on his next project, On Solid Ground. The all-electric project was nominated for a Grammy in 1989. The release of On Solid Ground came almost one year after Carlton was brutally shot in a random act of violence outside his Los Angeles studio.

In 1990, MCA acquired GRP Records and placed their jazz artists under the GRP moniker. Immediately, GRP issued a greatest hits package of Carlton’s work on MCA, called Collection. In 1991, Carlton entered the studio to record a blues-based album with John Ferraro, keyboard man Matt Rollings, bassist Michael Rhodes and harmonica player Terry McMillan. Interrupted by label and consumer demands for another jazz offering, Carlton temporarily shelved what would become Renegade Gentlemen and recorded and released Kid Gloves in ’92. A pop-oriented Jazz collection of lilting acoustic ballads and biting electric workouts, the album marked the first time Carlton had included both acoustic and electric tracks on a single solo project.

In between touring, Carlton resumed work on the bluesy Renegade Gentlemen. Taking the original six tracks to Nashville (his first time to record in that city), and joining up once again with Michael Rhodes and Terry McMillan, plus drummer Chris Layton (from Stevie Vaughan’s band Double Trouble) and keyboard wizard Chuck Leavell, he recorded four tracks, plus did additional production and mixing on the blues rocker in time for a ’93 release.

Carlton toured extensively that year and the next with jazz superband Stanley Clark And Friends (Stanley Clark, Larry Carlton, Billy Cobham, Deron Johnson and Najee). The quintet released Stanley Clark and Friends Live A t The Greek in ’94.

Larry & Lee, Carlton’s 1995 collaboration with guitar great Lee Ritenour, garnered him his eighth Grammy nomination. This was followed by The Gift in ’96 and Larry Carlton Collection Volume 2 in ’97. That same year, his virtuosity and reputation secured him a place in the crum­topping award-winning Warner Bros. Records’ group Fourplay, when member Lee Ritenour left to head his own label. Carlton doubled the fun by signing to Wamer Jazz as a solo artist at the same time. Since then he has released two albums with Fourplay: 4 in ’98 and a refreshingly different Christmas album, Snowbound, in October ’99. 1999 also brought Larry Carlton his very own spot on Hollywood’s prestigious Rockwalk. On June 3, he was inducted along with Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Jimmie Vaughn.

The year 2000 starts with Carlton putting his singularly superb fingerprints on the new millennium with his star-studded solo release on Wamer Bros. Records, Fingerprints. Utterly unique, Larry Carlton has set a standard for artistry that spans three decades (and two centuries) and he is undoubtedly destined to leave his mark on jazz, blues, pop and rock for the foreseeable future.

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FIVE AFTER FOUR
From 5 After 4 comes six. This highly-acclaimed veteran Toronto contemporary jazz combo makes a welcome return to recording with a sixth album that showcases the sound of four guys playing at the top of their game. The happy outcome is Rome In A Day, scheduled for release on prestigious independent label ALMA Records on June 28 in Canada and August in the US and worldwide.

The album is a masterful and delightfully diverse collection of all-original new 5 After 4 material. The group’s founder and driving force, drummer/composer Vito Rezza, contributes six compositions, long-time keyboardist Matt Horner chimes in with four numbers, and the freewheeling “Animal Crackers” is credited to all four members.

Joining Rezza and Horner in 5 After 4 are saxophonist John Johnson and bassist/producer Peter Cardinali. All four players have performed and recorded with each other in different musical configurations and settings for several decades now, with a clearly audible empathy resulting. Matt has played on four earlier 5 After 4 albums, and Peter and John two apiece. Johnson points out that “I’ve played with Vito for over 30 years now, and this musical intuition just happens. People often comment on just how tightly we listen to each other, but we’re not even trying to do it.” To Cardinali, “When we play, it can get quite euphoric. It becomes a conversation between the players.” Vito agrees, noting “we never tussle in our playing. We discuss, and nobody misses anything the other guy does.”

The close personal and professional rapport of the members of 5 After 4 shines through on Rome In A Day (the album is named after an action-packed day last year when Peter showed Vito the city for the first time). This Rome wasn’t built in a day, but was primarily constructed over groups of sessions this past year. Four of those sessions took place in the rustic setting of The Bathouse, situated near Kingston. Owned by The Tragically Hip, the studio has long been a popular destination for leading Canadian rock and roots artists. This may well be the first jazz album ever recorded there, and it was a personal invitation from Johnny Fay, The Hip’s drummer, that brought the group there. Vito picks up that story: “Johnny is one of my long-time students and a good friend. I played him some new music and he went ‘that’s beautiful. You’ve got to do another record. We own a studio and you should go there.’ Next thing I know I get e-mails from their in-house engineer, Aaron Holmberg, asking when we were coming!”

Such an offer was too good to refuse, and the studio proved perfect for capturing the warm ambience of Rome In A Day. “You’re not really in a studio there, you’re in a house,” explains Vito. “We hung out together, cooked great breakfasts and pasta, and played. We did 12 tracks in four days and enjoyed every minute of it.” Peter Cardinali adds “whenever you get away from your own city and surroundings, it becomes like a little commune. You hang out together, you eat together, you sleep under the same roof, and that creates a much different atmosphere.”

The album was essentially recorded live off the floor, with some minimal overdubbing later being done in Toronto studio The Drive Shed. Further freshness was guaranteed by the fact that 5 After 4 didn’t even rehearse the material prior to entering The Bathouse. “You have to live in the moment and just catch the vibe,” explains Matt Horner. “Some of us had never heard the songs,” says Cardinali. “We just hit record and played them. I love doing that. For me, there’s nothing like the raw energy and excitement of a first take. My ideas are freshest then and I’m able to convey them right away.” Such an adventurous approach is a signature of Cardinali’s production work, as exemplified by his internationally-praised One Take series. Its four albums to date have featured such jazz greats as Joey DeFrancesco, Terri Lynne Carrington, Guido Basso, Phil Dwyer, and Vito Rezza (on Volumes One and Four) recorded in just one take, with no rehearsals, overdubs or edits.

Each member of 5 After 4 had plenty of creative input on the compositions Vito and Matt introduced. Horner cites his stirring “Top Hat” as an example. “I wrote 12 notes (twelve tone row) and it’s a blues. Peter did the horn arrangements, Johnny came up with some other things, and they just took the ball and ran with it.”

Having talented composers within the group helps account for the refreshing range of material on Rome In A Day. Vito describes Matt as “a minimalist. He writes minimal melodies with beautiful harmonies all the time.” A perfect example of this on the new album is the gently lyrical “Changing of Seasons.” Vito recalls telling Matt “‘I can’t get that damn song out of my head. Matt said ‘good. That’s where it’s supposed to live!'”

Cardinali has watched the development of Rezza as a writer with real enthusiasm. “He just keeps getting better. Vito has an unbelievable sense of harmony and he writes beautiful melodies. He is a very romantic writer, and not many drummers can write that kind of in-depth material.” For a man who first made a mark as a truly explosive and volcanic virtuoso on the drums, Vito has matured into a writer with the soul of a poet and the heart of a lion.

Rezza is a genuine renaissance man, an accomplished poet, film and television actor (he has just shot a new Stone series movie with Tom Selleck), and martial arts expert. A deeply thoughtful and spiritual individual, he takes inspiration at home and abroad. The sweetly contemplative “Lee’s Mystery” is dedicated to his daughter, while “Mr. Govindas” came from reading a true story by Deepak Chopra about a destitute alcoholic outside a Mumbai hospital. It is a haunting ballad punctuated by, in Vito’s words ” Zappaesque rhythmic figures that create a staggering and dysfunctional feeling to represent the sick man.” When that sort of imagination is matched by the stellar musicianship of the four comrades, magic happens.

The previous 5 After 4 record, 2004’s Drums Of Avila, was a creatively ambitious and star-studded record that confirmed the huge respect Vito Rezza enjoys amongst his musical peers. International artists helping bring vivid life to his compositions on that record included tenor sax legend Michael Brecker, harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans, B3 star Joey DeFrancesco, fellow ace drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, and bassist Richard Bona. Canadian greats featured included Guido Basso, Kevin Breit, Steve Kennedy, John Goldsmith, and producer/bassist/arranger Peter Cardinali. The result is a musical tour de force that has a timeless quality that will endure.

Performing alongside contemporary music superstars is something the members of 5 After 4 have done regularly in their careers. Vito Rezza has worked with the likes of Joni Mitchell, Gino Vanelli, John Lee Hooker and Big Mama Thornton, while Peter Cardinali’s extensive list of credits include Rick James, Brecker Brothers, Ray Charles, Anne Murray, Oscar Peterson, Michael Bublé, Larry Carlton and Teena Marie. The diverse list of artists John Johnson has accompanied include Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Dianne Reeves and Bill Mays, plus Canadian stars Diana Krall, Holly Cole and Molly Johnson. Matt Horner is in great demand as a sideman for many leading Canadian artists, and his compositional credits include “Midnight in New Orleans,” a signature tune for Long John Baldry.

On Rome In A Day, 5 After 4 get back to the basics, as Vito explains. “It is more of a group record, with no special guests. In 5 After 4, I see myself as the instigator, not the leader. I planted the seed, Matt brought sun, Peter brought water, and Johnny ploughed the earth.”

Such creative alchemy has forged a musical gem. It’s now time to take a musical trip to Rome In A Day, a journey you won’t forget.

LARRY CARLTON

Stacey Kay

Fun, flirty, Stacey Kay is ready to knock you out!

Stacey first began performing music across Ontario at the age of 8 and hasn’t stopped since! After graduating as a triple threat from the prestigious performance program at Sheridan College for singing, acting and dancing, Stacey moved to Toronto to pursue more opportunities in the music and entertainment industry.

In 2013, Stacey starred in the Broadway touring production of Godspell where she introduced her powerhouse vocals, sassy personality, and sharp wit to audiences across Canada and the U.S.

Now signed to a record deal with Toronto-based Slaight Music, Stacey co-wrote all of the songs on her first EP. Stacey’s unique and powerful voice paired with her machine-gun rapping style has garnered her online videos hundreds of thousands of views! Her covers of several hit songs have gained the respect and recognition from the original artists including Meghan Trainor, Iggy Azalea, and Jennifer Hudson, who have either tweeted her videos or posted them on Facebook.

But Stacey isn’t one to ever put on the brakes. She is also a member of Eh440 an award-winning, Toronto-based a cappella group that bills itself as “5 voices, 0 instruments, and 1 new amazing sound“. With its unforgettable combination of “crazy beatboxing, sassy rapping, killer harmonies, and fresh, urban, RnB-influenced compositions“, Eh440 has captivated audiences across Canada, the US, and Europe. Find them at Eh440.com.

Not just a talented singer, Stacey’s taken her acting skills to the internationally aired CBC/Disney Junior’sBig Block SingSong, has made a successful appearance on CBC’s Dragons Den where she accepted a deal, and has produced her own comedic web videos.

More recently, on June 16th, millions watched Stacey’s debut on NBC’s hit TV show America’s Got Talent. Of course, Stacey barely had time to watch the show herself since she’s rehearsing for a live theatre run of From The Heart (Women of Country) at Petrolia, Ontario’s Victoria Playhouse Theatre running next month.

Saishubi

Saishubi is a group of six Toronto boys passionate about making music for the sake of music, art and the world around us. In these times, it’s easy to forget why music is important to the world, but Saishubi aims to answer that question in their own way. Here, it’s all about connection and The Search for meaning. Known for their high-energy live performances, the band is an invigorating experience that only wants to excite people, open their minds and, of course, move their bodies! Fresh off releasing their first album, the band is very excited to share their music with Toronto and lands beyond.

Ray Montford

Like the human spirit, Ray Montford’s melodic original tunes are fuelled by a wild and raw beauty, inspiring haunting sonic canvasses that are equally rich in imagery, as they are powerful. Whether playing finger style acoustic or electric reminiscent of blues/rock masters, Ray is a soulful player who lets his instrument sing, wringing emotion from every note and with a textured sound all his own. He recently released his sixth studio album, Vintage Is Now, an evocative collection of originals steeped in a seamless mix of jazz, blues and rock.

Born in Ottawa, Ray began learning by ear and woodshedding with the great rock records of that era. After studying audio engineering, production, and performance in the Music Industry Arts program at Fanshawe College and doing a term in the music program at Humber, he began writing and recording his own music, and by 1995 was dedicating most of his priorities in that discipline. Between 1994-’97, he was the guitar player for the Rankins and from 1997-’99, Mary Jane Lamond. His compositions have been heard on National CBC radio and have been licensed for various television series. For more than 20 years Ray and his rhythm section featuring some of Canada’s best players, have played for audiences and loyal fans at music festivals, clubs, theatres, house concerts and private parties. They toured parts of Europe in 2001, shared the stage with the Tony Levin Band (alumnae of Peter Gabriel) in 2003 and sold out the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto for the release of A Fragile Balance in 2007. Recently, they played the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts to a sold-out audience, the Oakville Jazz Festival (2010 & 2012), Markham Jazz Festival (2012), and the Canadian Guitar Festival (2009, 2011 & 2014).

Discography *Vintage Is Now (2012) *Live Sessions (2010) * A Fragile Balance (2007) * Shed Your Skin – 10th Anniversary Edition (1997 – 2007) * Live Imagery (2006) * Many Roads (2003) * One Step Closer (2000) * The Early Sessions (1991-2004). Ray has gratefully received support from the Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Factor and External Affairs as well as sponsorship from Totem Acoustic and Paradigm for his compostions, recording and performances. He has been a juror for the Toronto Arts Council’s Composer Program and twice for the Gemini awards. Periodically, he scores original music to picture.

“Ray Montford is a sensitive and exploratory musician who combines traditional techniques with exciting world music influences.” – Atom Egoyan.

“As hypnotic as a highway at night, always-moving, always-changing scenery, the kind of music you hear on an old car radio in the middle of nowhere.” – Denis Armstrong of the Ottawa Sun.

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