The first three volumes of the series, spotlighting drummer Mike Clark, saxophonist Billy Harper, and drummer Donald Bailey, will be released on November 4, 2008.
While their names may not be as well known as some, their musical ideas have helped define the sound of jazz as it has developed over the past 50 years - they are true musical architects that have helped lay down the BLUEPRINTS OF JAZZ.
Blueprints of Jazz co-producer (along with Stephen Smith) Marc Weibel spoke of the inspiration for the recordings: "The Blueprints of Jazz series is unique in that it presents a collection of modern recordings by some of the few remaining musicians that have a true historical connection to jazz scene of the 50's, 60's, and 70's. These artists didn't learn their craft by listening to old records from the masters; they lived the life themselves and actually played alongside the greats - both on stage and in the studio. Blueprints of Jazz gives the casual jazz fan a chance to discover significant jazz artists they weren't aware of before - artists that are peers with the jazz legends they're already familiar with. And serious jazz fans who are already aware of these artists get a rare opportunity to hear new recordings from these living legends."
MIKE CLARK - Blueprints of Jazz Vol. 1 - Mike Clark is viewed by many as a supreme funk or fusion drummer, primarily for his work with Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters in 70's, but he views himself first and foremost as a jazz drummer, as he's devoted his entire life to playing jazz, the music he loves the most. When given the chance to record a jazz album as part of the Blueprints of Jazz series and defy the stereotype of his identity as a funk drummer, alto sax player Donald Harrison was the first musician Mike called. They had already established a relationship, personally and professionally, with many gigs playing straight-ahead jazz as well as Headhunters gigs. Mike also enlisted New York tenor player Jed Levy, who contributed several songs to the session and served as musical director for the date. For the piano chair, Clark wasted no time in adding Patrice Rushen, a pianist whose stylings, like his own, defy expectation and whose music moves beyond category. Since they used to live in the same apartment complex in Manhattan, Clark would run into bassist Christian McBride in the hallways from time to time. They talked about getting together to play some music but they never found the time. Clark was thrilled when he found McBride was available for this date. Joining this impressive lineup was a young trumpeter from New Orleans, Christian Scott (highly recommended by Donald Harrison) who didn't disappoint.
BILLY HARPER - Blueprints of Jazz Vol. 2 - Billy Harper, part of the "Texas tenor" tradition, graduated from North Texas State University and then moved to New York City in 1966, where he began a brilliant music career. Over the next ten years, Harper could be heard with some of the greatest musicians of that era, including Gil Evans, Art Blakey, Lee Morgan, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, and Max Roach. Billy's sound has continued to evolve, with a unique rhythmic emphasis and vocal-like character, with an underlying spiritual quality as well. Never one to join the latest fad or compromise for commercial reasons, Billy's music represents his true artistic vision. That vision can be heard on Harper's Blueprints of Jazz recording, which includes Francesca Tanksley (piano), Clarence Seay (bass), Louie Spears (bass), Keyon Harrold (trumpet), Aaron Scott (drums), and features spoken word poetry from Amiri Baraka.
DONALD BAILEY - Blueprints of Jazz Vol. 3 - Donald "Duck" Bailey has helped define the pulse of jazz for more than five decades, but you're unlikely to find his name listed among fellow trap set innovators. Make no mistake, however, about Bailey's far-reaching and enduring influence, which dates back to his nine-year tenure with Hammond B3 legend Jimmy Smith from 1956-64. Bailey didn't just help cement the B-3, guitar and drums as the definitive instrumentation of the organ combo, he created a lithe trap set vocabulary that gave Smith plenty of room to lay down fat, pedal-generated bass lines while expertly driving the thrilling crescendos that made Smith such a dynamic performer. The generations of musicians who came up in Bailey's wake have all received some potent and enduring musical wisdom from the drummer via his work with Jimmy Smith, and he's still got plenty to teach. Bailey's handpicked band for this set includes pianist George Burton, bassist Tyrone Brown, tenor saxophonist Odean Pope, and special guest trumpeter Charles Tolliver.