Parade o’ Shoes: Gary Smulyan

September 23rd, 2013, 2:00 pm by Greg
Gary Smulyan


Photograph by J Hunter

Baritone saxophone master Gary Smulyan

Gary Smulyan – winner of the 2009 and 2011 Downbeat Critics’ Poll as Best Baritone Saxophonist – will be featured with Michael Benedict’s Bopitude at 7:30pm on Tuesday (September 24), opening the concert with the New Gary Burton Quartet at the College of Saint Rose’s Massry Center in Albany. Tickets are $30; $15 students.


LIVE: Gary Smulyan/Dylan Canterbury Quartet @ Flo’s Lark Tavern, 6/14/12

June 19th, 2012, 3:00 pm by Greg
Gary Smulyan and Dylan Canterbury

Gary Smulyan and Dylan Canterbury

Photographs by Albert Brooks. See more of Albert’s photos from this show here.

Saxman Gary Smulyan plays the big horn – the baritone saxophone – and he plays it very well. Well enough, in fact, to be named Baritone Saxophonist of the Year in the 2012 Down Beat Critic’s Poll. Well enough to snag six Grammy Awards.

Trumpeter Dylan Canterbury doesn’t have a mantel full of awards. He’s just 24 years old.

But put the two together with bassist Otto Gardner and drummer Joe Barna, and they make some mighty beautiful music…

Joe Barna, Dylan Canterbury and Otto Gardner

Joe Barna, Dylan Canterbury and Otto Gardner

Gary-Smulyan and Dylan Canterbury

Gary-Smulyan and Dylan Canterbury

JAZZ 2K: CD Picks of the Week

March 1st, 2012, 3:00 pm by Greg

Reviews by J Hunter

Five bright new arrivals and proof that everything old can become new again:

Jack DeJohnette: Sound Travels

“Sound Travels”
(Entertainment One)
It’s no surprise that Jack DeJohnette still kicks ass at age 70: As Art Blakey, Elvin Jones and Roy Haynes have proven, the jazzers who age the best are the drummers. But on “Sound Travels,” it’s how DeJohnette kicks ass – and, believe it or not, it ain’t on drums! Yes, he does get behind the kit on this collection of nine originals, all written or co-written by DeJohnette. Most of the backbeat heroics, though, go to percussionist Luisito Quintero, who completes the Latin feel infused in tracks like the sensual “Indigo Dreamscapes,” the East-meets-West-and-goes-South bop of “New Muse” and the African/Cuban crossover title track. But for the most part, DeJohnette eschews his famed rolling-thunder attack in favor of making space for an all-star band featuring bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding, guitarist Lionel Loueke, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, reed wizard Tim Ries and a heretofore-unknown keyboardist named… Jack DeJohnette! Yup, the heir to Tony Williams’ legacy plays beautiful, evocative piano – most notably backing Bobby McFerrin’s glistening vocalese on the meditative three-hander “Oneness” and all by himself on the whisper-soft coda “Home.” DeJohnette even plays piano on the twisting NOLA-survives anthem “Dirty Ground,” leaving co-author Bruce Hornsby nothing to do but sing! Take heart, fellow members of the Silver Headed Society! You’re never too old to re-invent yourself!

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LIVE: The Gary Smulyan-Ralph Lalama Quartet @ Professor Java’s Coffee Sanctuary, 1/7/11

January 10th, 2011, 2:00 pm by Greg
Gary Smulyan and Ralph Lalama

Gary Smulyan and Ralph Lalama

Both the audience and the bandmembers braved a raging winter snowstorm on Friday night, but they were rewarded with a red-hot, jam-packed performance featuring a pair of Grammy Award-winning saxophonists – baritone saxman Gary Smulyan and tenor titan Ralph Lalama. Local jazz fan extraordinare Paul Villani introduced the band at the start of the evening, and from that point forward, Professor Java’s in Colonie was transformed into a roaring fireplace.

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Live: Gary Smulyan @ Professor Java’s, 9/25/10

October 5th, 2010, 12:01 pm by Greg

Lou Smaldone and Gary Smulyan

Lou Smaldone and Gary Smulyan

Baritone saxophonist (and member of the internationally acclaimed Village Vanguard Orchestra) Gary Smulyan is a man of few words from the bandstand, but when he blows his horn, he speaks volumes about jazz history and his newfound place in it. He’s one of the best – if not the best – on that super-sized sax of his.

Once upon a time the magnificent titan Gerry Mulligan ruled the roost. Then Nippertown’s own phenomenal Nick Brignola was at the top of the heap. Now the baton of baritone sax greatness has been passed on and is firmly in the hands of Smulyan.

In the intimate Wolf Road coffeehouse Professor Java’s, Smulyan wrestled with his gigantic horn and produced a kaleidoscope of sounds ranging from pleasantly booming cascades to so-sweet angelic highs. His hands and body embraced the instrument with affection and raw determination. The notes barrelled out and formed dialogues with the spirits of past greats on the horn.

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