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The Montreal Sessions

North America Jazz Alliance

The Montreal Sessions

Price: € 19.95
Format: CD
Label: Challenge Records
UPC: 0608917335422
Catnr: CR 73354
Release date: 16 January 2013
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Label
Challenge Records
UPC
0608917335422
Catalogue number
CR 73354
Release date
16 January 2013

"The Montreal connection may not be obvious beyond the presence of Clayton, Walkington, Laing and Labelle, but there's a romantic French tinge throughout"

Downbeat, 20-5-2013
Album
Artist(s)
Composer(s)
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About the album

“The idea behind The Montreal Sessions,” remembers producer Peter Maxymych, “was to recreate a sound that was heard in clubs and other venues in the 1960s and 70s. The accordion was the lead instrument in those groups and the music was inspired by Art Van Damme, who led a quintet with vibes, guitar, bass and drums.”

The most famous of all jazz accordionists was Art Van Damme. Born in 1920, he started playing accordion when he was nine, had extensive classical training, and gained some prominence in 1941 when he joined Ben Bernie’s radio band. As a studio musician during 1945-60, he worked constantly on radio and television for NBC. He also hosted his own 15-minute Art Van Damme Show for NBC radio for 139 episodes, worked with many singers (including Jo Stafford), and in his career recorded at least 42 albums as a leader and over 150 overall. Van Damme’s quintet, using the same instrumentation as the George Shearing Quintet except for substituting accordion for piano, became his trademark sound. For a period, Joe Pass was his guitarist. Art Van Damme was active until shortly before his death at age 89 in 2010.

For The Montreal Sessions, producer Peter Maxymych wanted to bring back the classic sound of the Art Van Damme Quintet but without merely copying the past. “When I was in my teens, I used to play accordion in a trio for extra money. I was never a terrific musician but we did work a lot in ski lodges, some weddings and provided dance music in a few clubs between shows.” Although he did not pursue playing music, he always loved the sound and became a big fan of Art Van Damme. While the sound of the accordion combos have largely disappeared in the years since, he never forgot it and vowed to someday bring it back on a record.

Montreal was a natural setting for this recording. It hosts one of the biggest and most prestigious annual jazz festivals in the world. Back in the 1960s when Art Van Damme was at his most popular, Montreal was home to some of the world’s best jazz clubs including the Bellevue Casino and the Black Bottom.

The five musicians recorded The Montreal Sessions in three days. The performances came together quickly, an impressive feat considering that Hobbs and Kotwitz had never met before and were not familiar with the Canadian musicians. “This is what happens when you have great talent getting together. Their sounds blended together perfectly.” Listening to this music, one would swear that this was a regularly working band that had played together for years.(from the linernotes written by Scott Yanow)



The idea behind The Montreal Sessions,” remembers Maxymych, “was to recreate a classic sound of the Art Van Damme Quintet that was heard in clubs and other venues in the 1960s and 70s with the accordion as the lead instrument.

Artist(s)

Steve Hobbs (vibraphone)

Steve Hobbs (Raleigh, 1955) began at age 7 playing hand drums. He started trumpet and drumset at age 11. At 17, he switched to vibes and from here things only went up. Steve attended Berklee College of Music, where he received his Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance in 1978. He continued his education by receiving a Master of Music in Jazz Mallet Performance in 1982 from the University of Miami. Throughout the years, Steve Hobbs has performed concerts and in jazz clubs in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He has been a headliner at many Jazz festivals. Steve has done extensive touring as a leader or sideman with such players as Tom Harell, Art Van Damme, Randy Johnston, John...
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Steve Hobbs (Raleigh, 1955) began at age 7 playing hand drums. He started trumpet and drumset at age 11. At 17, he switched to vibes and from here things only went up. Steve attended Berklee College of Music, where he received his Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance in 1978. He continued his education by receiving a Master of Music in Jazz Mallet Performance in 1982 from the University of Miami. Throughout the years, Steve Hobbs has performed concerts and in jazz clubs in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He has been a headliner at many Jazz festivals. Steve has done extensive touring as a leader or sideman with such players as Tom Harell, Art Van Damme, Randy Johnston, John Stowell, Janice Barnett ("Janice"), Johnny San Sone ("Jumpin' Johnny"), and many more.Steve has recorded as a leader or sideman with Kenny Barron, Steve Berrios, Alan Broadbent, Luis Conti, Bruce Foreman, Tom Harrell, Randy Johnston, Joe LaBarbera, Victor Lewis, Bob Malach, Eddie Marshall, Bill O'Connell, John Patitucci, Rufus Reid, John Riley, Bob Sheppard, Dave Valentin, Peter Washington, and many others.Steve's latest release, Spring Cycle, was nominated for Best Album of the Year (2005) by the Jazz Journalists Association of America. The album hit #3 on the Jazz Week Jazz charts in June 2005. Steve was added to the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz in 2005 and was recognized as one of the 10 best vibists in the world by the BMG All Music Guide to Jazz in 1998. He has been featured in Jazz Times, Jazziz, Downbeat, All About Jazz, Cadence, and other international newspapers, journals and magazines. His music consistently gets major radio airplay in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. In June 2001, Steve was featured on BBC radio in "Vibes in Jazz, an Interview with Two American Vibraphonists: Gary Burton and Steve Hobbs," and is currently featured on the Time Warner Cable Jazz Network.

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Dave Laing (drums)

Kenny Kotwitz (alphorn)

Greg Clayton (guitar)

John Labelle (vocals)

North America Jazz Alliance

When he was ready, Peter Maxymych knew that the key to the project’s success was finding the right musicians. First he found vibraphonist Steve Hobbs after hearing him on a Sirius Jazz Satellite radio station in Florida. A widely respected player from Raleigh, North Carolina, Hobbs has played vibes since he was 17. In addition to leading his own groups, he has performed with such notables as trumpeter Tom Harrell, guitarists Randy Johnston, John Stowell and Bruce Forman, pianist Kenny Barron, saxophonists Gary Bartz and Chris Potter, bandleader Tito Puente, and (in a perfect coincidence) Art Van Damme.   Next the superior Canadian guitarist Greg Clayton was hired. “His style is similar at times to Joe Pass but unique in its own...
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When he was ready, Peter Maxymych knew that the key to the project’s success was finding the right musicians. First he found vibraphonist Steve Hobbs after hearing him on a Sirius Jazz Satellite radio station in Florida. A widely respected player from Raleigh, North Carolina, Hobbs has played vibes since he was 17. In addition to leading his own groups, he has performed with such notables as trumpeter Tom Harrell, guitarists Randy Johnston, John Stowell and Bruce Forman, pianist Kenny Barron, saxophonists Gary Bartz and Chris Potter, bandleader Tito Puente, and (in a perfect coincidence) Art Van Damme.
Next the superior Canadian guitarist Greg Clayton was hired. “His style is similar at times to Joe Pass but unique in its own way, with great taste in his phrasing.” Born in Montreal, Clayton played his first engagements when he was 12 and has been a major part of the Montreal jazz scene ever since. He keeps the legacy of bop guitar alive and flourishing. Since Greg Clayton often works with singer John Labelle, the latter takes guest vocals on three numbers. Influenced by Frank Sinatra but also very familiar with the top jazz singers, Labelle has been singing in Montreal since he was 18. He has been a popular attraction since making a strong impression at the 1995 Montreal Jazz Festival.
Bassist Alec Walkington (born in Ottawa and a fixture in Montreal since 1985) and drummer Dave Laing are major assets in the rhythm section. Both have played with the who’s who of jazz while based in Montreal, and they have both taught at McGill University.
The most important position to fill in this project was naturally the accordion. “I was very lucky to discover Kenny Kotwitz. I found him on You Tube and called him up in Los Angeles. As it turns out, he was Art Van Damme’s best friend and actually played at his funeral. His sound was exactly what I was looking for. “Born in Milwaukee, Kotwitz has long been a significant studio musician in Los Angeles, performing on a countless number of television and motion picture soundtracks, and also appearing at many music festivals. He knew exactly what Peter Maxymych wanted because it was a natural part of his own style.

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Composer(s)

Press

The Montreal connection may not be obvious beyond the presence of Clayton, Walkington, Laing and Labelle, but there's a romantic French tinge throughout
Downbeat, 20-5-2013

There's a romantic French tinge throughout.
Downbeat, 26-4-2013

A smooth and enjoyable standards album ... The whole album is tons of fun.
CD Hotlist, 01-4-2013

This is a swinging outing that will keep you interested and smiling throughout.
Jersey Jazz, 01-4-2013

With the late accordionist Van Damme’s group as its model, there are the blended harmonic colors of Kenny Kotwitz’s accordion, Greg Clayton’s guitar and Hobbs’ vibes, supported by bassist Alec Walkington and drummer Dave Laing. Sinatra-styled vocalist John Labelle adds extra class to the proceedings on several performances.
newsobserver.com, 30-3-2013

... the re-purposing of the accordion is a pure stroke of genius. A top notch jazz collective flipping genres and creating their own sound.
Criticaljazz.com, 01-3-2013

This is a very nice record...
Jazz Society of Oregon, 01-3-2013

This is wonderful relaxing jazz, uncomplicated and tasteful. Perhaps a little too sweet for enthusiast who prefer the adventure of looking for the unexpected... The relaxed atmosphere of jazz from the 60's and 70's is accomplished!
Audio Freaks, 26-2-2013

... one of the finest jazz recordings to pass my ears. Kenny Kotwitz’s accordion work may help to bring the jazz into a French motif, while Steve Hobbs’ vibraphone work is one of the primarily reasons to buy and cherish this album.
This Books Music, 17-2-2013

The Montreal Sessions is a surprisingly tasteful musical experience of accordion/vibes sounds in a classic jazz standard setting forged by the superb play from the North America Jazz Alliance.
Allaboutjazz.com, 13-2-2013

The North American Jazz Alliance makes classy, polished jazz delivered in clear and crisp fashion.
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/, 02-2-2013

The Monteal Sessions is mainstream jazz as good as it gets. ... this is an album that does the memory of Art Van Damme proud.
Blogcritics Music, 25-1-2013

Stunningly groovy, this is the kind of session that will be a break out set and will be talked about for years.
Midwest Record, 20-1-2013

The mellow sound is seductive and the technical mastery of the instrumentalist is obvious.This is a jazz lover's dream and one that likely will become a very popular nominee for a Grammy. Try it!
Amazon.com, 15-1-2013

You gotta have guts these days to feature the accordion in a band, but these guys pull it off.
Jazz Weekly

Listen to his [John Labelle/vocals] take on Close your Eyes, and you'll understand my viewpoint. Smooth as a $100 bottle of Scotch... But, really, the true shining light to this whole thing is the stratosphere-high level of musicianship.
Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

Play album Play album
01.
Just One Of Those Things
06:01
(Cole Porter) Kenny Kotwitz, Steve Hobbs, Greg Clayton, Dave Laing, Alec Walkington, John Labelle
02.
Close Your Eyes
04:05
(Bernice Petkere) Alec Walkington, Dave Laing, Greg Clayton, Kenny Kotwitz, Steve Hobbs, John Labelle
03.
Cute
03:31
(Stanley Styne, Neil Hefti) Kenny Kotwitz, Steve Hobbs, Greg Clayton, Dave Laing, Alec Walkington, John Labelle
04.
Oblivion
06:11
(Astor Piazzolla) Kenny Kotwitz, Steve Hobbs, Greg Clayton, Dave Laing, Alec Walkington, John Labelle
05.
Angel Eyes
06:31
(Earl Brent, Matt Dennis) Kenny Kotwitz, Steve Hobbs, Greg Clayton, Dave Laing, Alec Walkington, John Labelle
06.
Nobody Else But Me
04:49
(Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II) Kenny Kotwitz, Steve Hobbs, Greg Clayton, Dave Laing, Alec Walkington, John Labelle
07.
Delilah
05:15
(Victor Young) Kenny Kotwitz, Steve Hobbs, Greg Clayton, Dave Laing, Alec Walkington, John Labelle
08.
Charade
06:01
(Johnny Mercer, Henry Mancini) Kenny Kotwitz, Steve Hobbs, Greg Clayton, Dave Laing, Alec Walkington, John Labelle
09.
Dancing In The Dark
03:37
(Howard Dietz, Arthur Schwartz) Kenny Kotwitz, Steve Hobbs, Greg Clayton, Dave Laing, Alec Walkington, John Labelle
10.
It Could Happen To You
05:20
(Johnny Burke, Jimmy van Heusen) Kenny Kotwitz, Steve Hobbs, Greg Clayton, Dave Laing, Alec Walkington, John Labelle
11.
Only Trust Your Heart
04:42
(Benny Carter, Sammy Cahn) Kenny Kotwitz, Steve Hobbs, Greg Clayton, Dave Laing, Alec Walkington, John Labelle
12.
That's All
07:17
(Bob Alan Brandt, Bob Haymes) Kenny Kotwitz, Steve Hobbs, Greg Clayton, Dave Laing, Alec Walkington, John Labelle
show all tracks

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