||Songs for Jazz Legends
Ron Di Salvio
It was an early cherry blossom filled spring afternoon in Kalamazoo,
Michigan, the year was 2006. The venue was The Gilmore International
Keyboard Festival’s Afternoon Concert Series at the Civic Theatre. On stage
sat Jimmy Cobb behind his drums, three amazing horn players; Derrick
Gardner, Rob Smith and Pat Terbrack held trumpet, tenor and alto
saxophones respectively in their hands. A young, fresh-out-of-Julliard,
energetic upright bassist, Matt Heredia stood tall as I moved away from the
Steinway concert grand piano toward the microphone. Stage left; four stellar
young vocalists enter ready to sing their featured two selections of the
program. I introduced each of the handpicked cream-of-the crop Western
Michigan Gold Company Singers, under the tutelage of Dr. Steve Zegree.
Aubrey Johnson-soprano, Jiana Hunter-alto, Andy Inglat-tenor and J.C.
Coffey-bass were welcomed by a warm applause as they moved to their
microphones as the rhythm section exploded into an upbeat samba “Good
Morning Santa Cruz.” “Essence of Green,” A Tribute to “Kind of Blue,” the
concerts theme, was next and contained a haunting melody and lyric mingled
with a mellifluous trumpet solo played by Derrick Gardner who conjured up
memories of Miles Davis. The mesmerizing performance concluded with a
standing ovation and an audience insistent on an encore. In the months that
followed I was inspired to compose “Songs for Jazz Legends” and was
extremely fortunate to record these songs with NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Cobb
and these fine vocalists and musicians.