The Things You All Are
The Theme of this CD is thanks, appreciation and an acknowledgment of blessings. In the performing arts we are never alone. Colleagues, audience and unseen supporters all have a part in making our work possible. First I want to acknowledge my band-mates. In 1993 Jay and Paul were playing at a restaurant on a weekly basis. Once a month they were able to add a third player and asked me to join them. A year later when I reorganized my own band they were at the heart of the new one. We have been working as a trio for some five years now, with a drummer whenever possible and even a piano or vibraphone from time to time. In 1996 Stanley became our regular drummer, and these gentlemen have been my faithful musical companions on the fat gigs as well as the skinny ones; always ready to play whether the pay was guaranteed or speculative. Anyone who has performed regularly can appreciate the value of consistency of ensemble. The presence of Jay, Paul and Stanley in my music life has been a blessing.
In his passing much has been written about Ken. An artist and community activist who's commitment and courage has had, at times, had international impact. He was a man who, for me, summed up the "jazz attitude." That he always managed to be profoundly in-the-moment while maintaining awareness of the moment's context. He gave his time and energy generously to the local jazz community, making sure we all had a place to be heard, whether at the Cambridge Public Library, the Lai Lai or the 1359 Jazz Club. Any one trying to get a new band or a new sound together could count on Ken to provide the place to present it. He enriched my life and those of so many others. Knowing him was another blessing.
When I was a teenager I met a man some eight to ten years older than myself at a little coffee house that presented jazz. Don had just gotten out of the service and had some jazz records he had picked up in Europe, records that were not available in the U.S., which he was kind enough to loan to me. He was and is a man who is very committed to young people who are at that very difficult adolescent time of life, and he helped so many of us youngsters stay focused on the positive things in our lives. I do not have space for all the good memories, like taking me and another young musician friend to hear Art Blakey at a concert in North Philly, but I want to share this one. One day when I was 16 or 17 Don predicted that I would persevere as a musician and would one day record, and he requested that I play Raksin and Mercer's Laura for him. Well it has taken a lot of time and a lot of perseverance, Don, but your faith in me is something I have never forgotten.
Paul K. "Beau" Baxter
Paul is my son and of all the blessings I have received he is a the top of the list. When he was a very little boy we were separated for a while. It was a difficult time for both of us and I was very concerned for his future. I was supplementing my income as a musician at that time by driving a taxi and one day, on the long bus ride to the cab garage, while I as thinking about him, a tune came to me. The tune was so clear and well formed that it stayed in my mind all through the long night of cab driving and the journey home. When I got home I wanted to write this melody down but was to tired and had to hope that I could remember it when I got up. I have forgotten many good tunes this way, but when I woke up it was still there just as clear as the night before. We musicians often say that we feel more like the medium for music than the originators of it and Blue Skies For Beau is, for me, a prime example of that phenomenon. I am happy to say that the blue skies have turned out to be there for my son.
And so many others...
The African saying "it takes a village to raise a child," could well be extended to the supporting and nurturing of an artist. There are a few of my fellow Ôvillagers" I would like to thank in particular for their support in the last few years as I have tried to realize my dreams. Music presenters Rick Maida, Bruce Pingree and Debby Rosenblatt along with the folks at the Tam and the Northeast Brewing Co.; radio people Tony Cennamo, late of WBUR, Steve Charbonneau of WICN and the crew at WERS; engineers, bon vivants and dear friends Chris Madsen and Brook Bateau; and of, course, all those who have helped me and others of the Boston jazz community reach our udience.
1. My Little Suede Shoes (C. Parker) 5:47
2. All The Things You Are (O. Hammerstein III, J. Kern) 8:05
3. One For Ken (P. Combs) 5:25
4. Yardbird Suite (C. Parker) 6:26
5. Laura (J. Mercer, D. Raksin) 6:18
6. Road Song (W. Montgomery) 7:44
7. *Blue Skies For Beau (P. Combs) 7:50
8. *Yours Is My Heart Alone (F. Lehar, L. Herzer, F. Lhner, H. Smith) 7:24
9. *I Got My Job Through BOP (P.Combs, V. Gibson) 8:37
Paul Combs: soprano & baritone saxes; flute.
Jay Ford: electric guitar.
Paul Ebersole: bass.
Stanley C. Swann III: drums
Recorded 2/2/97, 6/1/97 and 1/18/98 at Supervox Sound Recording, Boston MA;
*8/1/97 at The Acton Jazz Caf, Acton MA.
Recorded by Brook Batteau and Chris Madsen.
Mixed by Paul Combs and Chris Madsen.
Mastered by Chris Madsen.