both a fitting and a moving conclusion to a project that acknowledges the vast – and lasting – contribution Charlie Banacos made to the jazz world.

Outside in Music 97773

Garry Dial (piano); Rich DeRosa (drums); Mike Stern, Wayne Krantz (electric guitar); Paul Meyers (acoustic guitar); Margaret Banacos, Barbara Banacos, Helios Alves, Victor Provost, Piamen Karadonev, Gerard D’Angelo (piano); David Witham (keys); The Keep Swingin’ Horn Section – Nick Marchione (trumpet, flugelhorn); Andrew Gould (alto sax, flute); Chris Oatts (tenor sax, flute), Ryan Keberle (trombone); Greg Smulyan (tenor sax); Anne Diamond (flute) – Jerry Bergonzi (tenor sax); Dick Oatts (alto sax); Terrell Stafford (trumpet); Phil Grenadier (trumpet); Paulo Levi (soprano sax); Jeff Berlin, Joe Hubbard, Itaiguara Brandão (electric bass); Jay Anderson, Matt Stravrakis (bass); Tom Brechtlein, Joe Riley, Luther Gray, Mauricio Zoltarelli (drums); Mauricio Zoltarelli, Rich DeRosa, Victor Provost (percussion)

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This album is a tribute to one of jazz’s greatest educators, the pianist and composer Charlie Banacos, known as ‘The Jedi Master of Jazz.’ From the 1950s, Banacos created courses for improvisation and composition (with titles such as ‘Tetratonics,’ ‘Bimodal Pendulums,’ and ‘Tonal Paralypsis’). He produced more than 100 courses, which were delivered as lectures, face-to-face sessions, clinics and courses (including online). His work can be found in countless jazz education resources and is used by numerous music institutions. Banacos continued working right up to his death in 2009, aged 63.

Banacos was much loved by his students, who described him as ‘exacting, inspiring and encouraging.’ There was a long waiting list for his personal tuition sessions, and it was not unknown for people to fly across the USA or even from other continents to attend them. His ex-students would go on to play with artists such as Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, Dizzy Gillespie and Wayne Shorter.

His ex- students included the late Michael Brecker, who described Banacos as a ‘genius’. Other past students include, Mike Stern, Garry Dial, Jeff Berlin, Wayne Krantz, Gerard D’Angelo and Jerry Bergonzi, all of whom appear on this album. The chief instigators behind the album, pianist Garry Dial and drummer Rich DeRosa have been involved in jazz education for decades. All ten tunes on this album were composed by Banacos, and all have been either arranged or reimagined, mainly by Dial and DeRosa. Bassists Joe Hubbard and Jeff Berlin, and pianist Victor Provost put their own spin on a track each. A six-piece horn section plays on all tracks.

On almost all, tracks, at least several band members get to play solos – this is a very democratic recording.

The opener ‘Keep Swingin’ lives up to its name, a blues number with lots of swing, power and swagger – the horn section fills out the sound with an assortment of stabs and riffs. There are also three good solos from Dial (piano), Dick Oatts (sounding like a preacher on alto sax) and Terrell Stafford on wah-wah trumpet. It’s a head-noddin’ foot-tappin’ rendition and a strong start to the album.

Bassist Joe Hubbarb has played with Ian Carr, Dick Morrisey and Jim Mullen. His reimagination of ‘Great Awakening’ sounds like a track from the Weather Report’s Jaco Pastorius era – and that is meant as a compliment. Hubbard’s speed, tone and articulation bring to mind the playing of late, great bassist, and guitarist Wayne

Krantz’s jagged guitar solo packs a punch. One of the best tracks is ‘Pine Needles,’ a gentle, midtempo tune that has DeRossa laying down a steady beat and features Mike Stern on guitar. Stern is well-known for his fiery explosive playing, but this song brings out his softer, melodic side. Everyone plays with great delicacy and Dial delivers a lovely piano solo, with a gorgeous motif at the 5.27 mark. Jerry Bergonzi’s Quintet offers up another swinging rendition in the form of ‘Mummy’s Curse,’ while ‘Bernie Burnola’ is a spirited 16-bar samba. Jeff Berlin arranged the blues ‘A-440,’ composed a new interlude, and solos on both bass and piano. He’s even responsible for the horn arrangement.

‘Nero’ is a pretty jazz-waltz, while the quirky ‘Pluto Language’ (reimagined by Victor Provost) starts off with a slightly unsettling piano riff before opening out to a lively number which has Provost also playing steel pans (this is another track that reminds me of Jaco Pastorius – this time with his big band). The final number, ‘Pelaghia’ is a classical piece played as a piano duet, featuring Banaco’s widow Margaret and daughter Barbara. The flowing, cascading chords are like two rivers meeting at their confluence. Both players are accomplished pianists, and it’s both a fitting and a moving conclusion to a project that acknowledges the vast – and lasting – contribution Charlie Banacos made to the jazz world.