This concert came about my senior year at Northern Illinois University when I did an independent study on the music of Lennie Tristano, Lee Konitz, and Warne Marsh. This included countless hours of transcribing dozens of their compositions and solos, and devouring any reading materials about them that I could find. Looking back, it’s hard to believe how I got through it all, but it was an amazing learning experience that I’ll never forget. We also did all this material, along with Ted Sirota’s Rebel Souls (of which I had recently become a member) material for my senior recital in DeKalb, IL. It was awesome to bring these guys out there, play the recital in the local Indian restaurant (I had to twist the administration’s arm to let me not do it in the recital hall), and then throw a classic college RAGER at my apartment with the band and a bunch of awesome people.
Tristano and crew are still some of my favorite musicians. Nevertheless, I remember after finishing this project that I couldn’t listen to them for a really long time.
The last time I think I heard this live recording was probably shortly after the concert. Listening back to your former self is always a painful experience, and this is no exception. I can hear a definite lack of maturity in my playing (I was 22 at the time). I’m also still searching for a personal voice (if you’re familiar with some of the older generation of Chicago guitarists, you’ll know what I’m talking about!). The heads to the tunes sound really great, though, and everybody’s playing beautifully. For those keeping track, you’re hearing a 22 year old Greg Ward! What a guy. Geof Bradfield is nailing it, as always, and there’s a seamless blend between the two horns. Hyosub needs to pick up the bass again – he had a great sound! Ted has always been one of my favorite drummers – great tone, taste, history, and creativity. His band, Ted Sirota’s Rebel Souls, should be in the Chicago jazz history books sooner or later.
Oh yeah, this was back when the Empty Bottle had jazz multiple nights a week, let alone ever. Remember that?! If you’re younger than me, probably not.
Thanks to Ted Sirota for digging out this recording and posting it online. You can hear more Ted Sirota’s Rebel Souls music here. You can hear this particular band (with the fabulous Jake Vinsel replacing Hyosub Kim on bass) on the 2008 Naim release Seize the Time). As of late, the band did a one-off performance at the wonderful Galesburg Rootabaga Jazz Festival and tore the roof off the sucka. I’d love to see what this band can do after a few weeks on the road!
Greg Ward – alto sax, Geof Bradfield – tenor sax, Dave Miller – guitar, Hyosub Kim – bass, Ted Sirota – drums/laptop (“Turkish Mambo”)