Trumpeter Bobby Lewis will be celebrating the release of his 13th recording, under his own name, this coming weekend (October 4-7th, 2018) at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago. We talked with Bobby about his new recording and what people can expect to hear this weekend at the Jazz Showcase.
Bobby Lewis - Jazz Showcase, October 4th-7th
1. You just came out with your 13th recording under your own name. Was there a specific motivation or concept for this new recording?
I have always always enjoyed the recording process and playing in the recording studios. I was studio musician for many years and played on 7500 sessions (TV and radio spots, record dates and films) from 1964 until the mid 1990’s when all of the ground to a halt.
The motivation for number 13 comes from the desire to keep on keepin’ on with my horns and record the new tunes I’ve been writing.
2. Most of your longtime collaborator’s perform on the new recording “Count Me In” but there are a few new names as well. Can you tell us about the musicians on the new recording and how they contribute to the interpretation of your music?
The quintet that is appearing at the Jazz Showcase has been playing together for quite a few years. It’s a family.
Everyone isn’t available all the time, so members of the extended family play. I’ve had pianist Jeremy Kahn, guitarists John Moulder and Andy Brown on many gigs over the years. Percussionist Alejo Poveda appears on all of my recordings.
3. How did you arrive on song selection for the new release and are there any songs that have a deeper significance then others?
I composed six new tunes five of which are on this CD. Trumpeter/cornetist Bobby Hackett was one of my early inspirations and influences. Thus, I chose Autumn Nocturne as a tribute to him. Andy Brown on guitar and I on cornet offer the homage.
I worked with Claude Thornhill on several occasions in the 1960’s and wanted to record his composition Snowfall as a tribute. That song has only 37 notes and in the key of Db, 17 of them are Ab. There are only nine chords, as well. It’s a challenge to play without adding any extra notes. The last song on the disc is Always, the Irving Berlin classic written in !925. I do a 2 and 1/2 minute version as an unaccompanied cornet solo. The other three tunes are Look For The Silver Lining (Jerome Kern), Alone Together (Arthur Schwartz)and Brigas Nunca Mais (Tom Jobim)
You will be performing with your quintet this Thurs-Sun at the Jazz Showcase. Who will be in the band and what can people expect to hear?
Pat Mallinger on saxophone, Jim Ryan on piano, Stewart Miller on bass, Jeff Stitely on drums (Thursday and Sunday) Ernie Adams on drums (Friday and Saturday). Great players and great music. We will play selections from the new CD, some other tunes of mine and a variety of other styles and forms.
5. You have performed many times over the years at the Jazz Showcase. Do you have a story or two that you can share with us about maybe a gig you played or attended that was motivational, funny or anything in between?
Yes there are many stories but here's a really good one!
One Saturday evening when Dizzy Gillespie was appearing at the Jazz Showcase, I received a call from Joe Segal about 8:30 PM. I wasn’t working, which was rare, and answered the phone. Here’s how the conversation ensued:
Joe: “Hey, Bobby. Joe Segal. Dizzy Gillespie is here and dropped a valve out of his horn. They are trying to put it back, but are having trouble. Do you know anyone who could bring a horn so Diz can play the show?”
Me: “I could. In fact I have an old Martin Committee model that Diz might enjoy playing.” (That model was a favorite of many of the jazz trumpet players of the 1940’s and 50’s).
Joe: “How long will it take you to get here?”
Me: “About 30 minutes or so.”
Joe: “Know anybody closer? The people are getting anxious to hear some music.”
Me: “Joe! For cryin’ out loud. It’s Saturday night. You’re lucky to find any trumpet player at home, especially one that has a horn Diz might like AND is willing to jump in the car and save your …!”
Joe: “OK, but hurry.”
I got there ASAP, headed right to the dressing room and showed the horn to Dizzy.
Diz: “Looks kinda beat up.”
Me: “It’s been around. Play it.”
Diz: “Hmmm, not bad.”
He emerged with the horn and hollered, “I got it all straightened out!” This had a double meaning. Diz was used to his signature turned up bell, which this horn didn’t have. All night he kept pulling the mike lower and lower. I’m sure that trumpet never sounded better. And Joe was certainly relieved. He even invited me to stay without paying! How much better could it be?