The new 2007 release of “Bad Boys,” “The
Russo Alberts Trio” has been getting a lot of attention
since the first airing on KCSM in San Mateo by Broadcaster
Sonny Buxton. The CD features ten new recordings, nine
originals by Don Alberts and one by Charles Mingus. Published
on the Sims Road Music label it is now available on many
outlets including CD
Baby.com and other iTunes.
Bad Boys-represents the past of us all, how we came back
from the depths to find each other again and continue this
music after years of being misfits. It is the perfect setting
for this band.
Coy Madden: It was originally the extension of a poem, the
song came one afternoon at the piano alone in the house with
conflicting feelings of loss or abandonment. As it turns
out it was not about that at all, but uplifting and smart.
The people in L.A. loved it and that made it a permanent
part of the band's music.
One Fine Thing- is a minor blues.
It pivots on an introductory figure that resolves to solos
in F minor. It is a joy to play and "One Fine Thing."
Definition- evolved out of the many versions of the form
we use and served to define the musical configuration as
Rise- is the first excursion in the use of a device to expand
the harmonic influence combining Lydian harmony with the
bebop forms without sacrificing melodic beauty and content.
This might have been the title song.
Godfire Mantra- is an excursion
to the"outside," a
meditation if you allow it. Don Russo and Art Lewis shine
in this openness as it approaches complete freedom touching
at the formless and setting the stage for future explorations,
a sophisticated genre Art Lewis knows well from his times
with Andrew Hill and Dewey Redman.
Made-came into fullness quite
unexpectedly at rehearsal through rhythmic impressions
of Art's drumming. Together we developed the form to its
completion based on that rhythmic idea. The title "Made," came from our realization
that on one particular gig situation we could do no wrong,
we were "Made." That fact has stayed with the band.
Dare Devils: A song that was influenced by Sonny Stitt.
He would have loved the exotic fast moving blues changes.
Duke's Choice: A song by Charles
Mingus that sings his haunting style. Though dedicated
to his mentor, "Duke Ellington," it
echos the purity of Mingus' concept, rooted strongly in the
blues with a theme that becomes unforgettable.
Steps- is purely original, it forces its way into an energetic
ride across the bars in the 7/4 melody and opens the door
to an almost free improvisation. It is the longest track
in this collection but well worth the listening experience.
Review by Sonny Buxton:
If there had not been an economic
crunch on clubs throughout the country in the middle of
the last century, we may never have seen the emergence
of the sound of the "TRIO." The
retreat of the big bands, the return of the combo, and its
resulting popularity, by necessity, created a need for the
smallest of compact units to be able to deliver a satisfying
alternative to the loss of the big bands. The smaller swing
bands, such as those led by John Kirby, Artie Shaw and Benny
Goodman were successful for hotel starlight venues. However,
few smaller units could match the musical and entertainment
quality of the groups led by Louis Armstrong and Louis Jordan.
They were both highly skilled instrumentalists, vocalists,
and artists eager to please their fans.
On the other side
of the coin were the adventurers, the rebels, the be-boppers.
These smaller groups were also made up of highly skilled
musicians, playing a brand of music not designed for the
masses. They excluded dancers, demanded the audience to listen,
and stretched the musical boundaries to the limit. The be-boppers
quickly developed a cult-like following and were accused
of creating the music that killed the big swing bands. They
survived the acrimony, and carved their own individual niche.
In the middle of small swing bands, rhythm and blues groups,
bebop quintets, there slipped in a little group that would
be become the cornerstone within all musical genres: the
The King Cole Trio, in my estimation,
is the benchmark for all musicians aspiring to perform in
a three person setting. From the outset, they were entertaining,
swinging, and true innovators in an historical context. Their
harmonic structures within the melody were challenging, yet
not so far flung that the they lost touch with the audience.
Nat Cole was one of the great jazz piano players, and not
a bad singer. His trio, with the piano, bass, guitar and
vocal, was copied worldwide by thousands of musicians; not
just in structure, but note for note. Not to be ignored was
the size of the Cole led group and the instrumentation -
ideal for saloons and lounges. Listening closely to a real
trio in action is an adventure unto itself. Whether it be
the King Cole Trio, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Chick Corea,
or Keith Jarrett, one is struck by the discovery of the ability
to surrender within the tight confines of a small band. It
does mean giving it up, playing as one for the benefit of
is one standard piece of advice for would-be musicians in
a trio setting: Listen, and then, play your instrument. Being
a member of a trio is no easy task. Many qualified musicians
wash out and never return to the format. You will hear the
same refrain from those who have abandoned the notion: "I
couldn't get with that, or those cats" - "I couldn't
feel it" - "it just didn't work for me" - "I
felt naked up there" - "I need more."
excuses for wanting out of the trio are centered around "me." There
is no "me" in the trio. That is exactly what makes
it stand apart from most contemporary bands. The Bay Area
based, Alberts/Russo Trio, is the real deal. As in the profiles
of outstanding trios from the past, the trio is their choice
and their passion. You will hear the history of this small
unit form in tact. They are adventurous harmonic-ally, the
melodies are original, they swing, and they are entertaining.
The CD is titled, "The Bad Boys." This is not to
be confused with another popular style of commercial recordings.
Alberts/Russo have their analysis for the title, and I have
mine: In the vernacular of the tried and true - they are "Bad
cats" - indeed. I hope you will take time to listen,
as I have, and enjoy the music these fine musicians have
Sonny Buxton KCSM Jazz Radio FM 91 San Mateo, Ca.