Al Muirhead Northern Adventures - The Canada Sessions Vol. 1

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Submitted by Gary Richardson

2016 JUNO-Nominated trumpeter Al Muirhead’s most ambitious project to date, Northern Adventures - The Canada Sessions Vol. 1 is a collection of standards pairing him with many of Canadas jazz greats!

A western Canadian jazz icon, Al recently came to wider prominence in North America with the release of his debut album Its About Time. Now at the age of 81 years old, Al is making up for lost time with his third release in just two years.

Featuring five different small ensembles of both old friends and new, Al harkens back to his youth, calling standards from the great American songbook live in the studio. Northern Adventures features jazz performed with spontaneity and joy, and with a command of the music that only players of the caliber of Al and his guests can.

“Love Me Or Leave Me” became the title of a 1955 film “Makin' Whoopee” a jazz standard and a huge hit for Billie Holiday. Guido Basso on flugelhorn is reminiscent of Kay Winding and J.J. Johnson trombone styles while guitar solos are played effortlessly in synch with smooth piano.

“They Can’t Take That Away From Me”, the George and Ira Gershwin song, was made famous by Fred Astaire in the 1937 film Shall We Dance, and recorded by Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart and many others. Proof that a good song is a good song and can withstand the test of time. Muirhead’s offering is a classic 60’s style of trumpet, a trait well known in that era of jazz standards.

The 1932 Cole Porter song “Night and Day” has a steamy, sensual vocal by Laila Biali, and the piano arrangement adds a new feel to a classic song with its walking chords and syncopated rhythms.

“I’ve Never Been In Love Again” a Frank Loesser composition published in 1950, and made famous in the musical Guys and Dolls, has smooth interaction between the flugelhorn and sax, giving the song that great classic jazz sound.

“Come Rain Or Come Shine” is another jazz standard song written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer written for the musical St. Louis Woman in 1946, capturing the unique combo sounds reminiscent of the Dave Brubeck era.

"Emily" another popular song penned by Johnny Mandel and Johnny Mercer and was the title song to the 1964 film The Americanization of Emily. (The song wasn't sung in the movie, which is the reason that it couldn't be nominated for an Academy Award.) It has since been recorded by numerous artists, notably Bill Evans and Tony Bennett. Muirhead’s offering is particularly sweet and romantic, playing it effortlessly with trumpet and piano.

"Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise" is a song with music by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II from the operetta The New Moon. More of a smooth, up tempo jazz tune, interspersed with tasteful guitar arrangements and improvised trumpet leads brings this classic song from 1928 up to today’s standards.

"The Nearness of You" is a popular song written in 1938 by Hoagy Carmichael, with lyrics by Ned Washington. The song was performed in the Paramount film Romance in the Dark (1938). Listening to this vocal offering makes you feel like you are listening to a torch singer, surrounded by low lights in a smoke-filled room.

“Insensitive” jazz standard composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim and this version is a light up tempo bossa nova that lets your mind wander to a club in the Caribbean, and enjoying a night with great music and your favourite beverage.

“You’ll Never Know” is produced here as a relaxing version while the piano, trumpet and flugelhorn really capture the true essence of this all time favorite made famous by Vera Lynn in 1943.

“All The Things You Are” another Ella Fitzgerald song, shows off all the musicians’ improvisational styles, with the ‘back and forth’ point counterpoint. A truly great production value.

The last song on the CD wraps it all together with “Nice Work If You Can Get It” written by George and Ira Gershwin, for the movie A Damsel in Distress, performed by Fred Astaire The song was published in 1937.

This CD is a must for any jazz lover, and proves that age is not a deterrent when you are a talented musician like Al Muirhead who under the direction of Chronograph Records has put together a stellar studio session on this production. Northern Adventures The Canada Sessions Vol. 1 brings together a veritable who’s who of the Canadian jazz scene in five small groups. In order of appearance on the album performing with Al are award-winning musicians Don Thompson (piano/bass) and Reg Schwager (guitar), Guido Basso (trumpet/flugelhorn) and Tommy Banks (piano), Laila Biali (vocals), Ben Wittman (percussion) and Kodi Hutchinson (double bass), Mike Murley (saxophone) and Chris Andrew (piano), and finally Campbell Ryga (saxophone) and Mike Rud (guitar)

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