Ten & One
'Ten And One' is several things: it's a celebration of classic American Popular Song and the art of arranging for a vocalist and big band. And it's further proof of the wealth of world-class musical instrumental talent in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. But, ultimately, it's a superb debut and showcase for the vocal, instrumental and bandleading prowess of one Joe Rodney Booth. Some background: Rod was born in El Paso and reared in a household where music prevailed. His father, Robert, was a highly regarded trumpeter, violinist and teacher who played in the El Paso Symphony and at one time played in the band of trumpeter Ziggy Elman ("And The Angels Sing"). His mother, Sammie, is a pianist and voice teacher who studied with the legendary Madame Margaret Chaloff (mother of jazz baritone great Serge Chaloff and teacher/mentor to Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett and others). Young Rod Booth listened to his dad's record collection and, in the process, acquired many musical influences; among them, vocalists Tony Bennett, Ray Charles and the excellent British pop vocalist Matt Monro. On trumpet: Clark Terry, Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. Two trumpeter/vocalists made a lasting overall impression: Louis Armstrong and Chet Baker. Rod first attended the University Of Texas At El Paso (UTEP) and finished his studies at the University Of North Texas (UNT) in Denton, Texas, where he played in the fabled 1:00 Lab Band. Subsequently he toured with that great jazz finishing school, the Woody Herman Orchestra; his teammates there included baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan, drummer Jeff Hirschfield and tenor saxophonist/ arranger Bob Belden. Ultimately , Rod became part of the Dallas-Ft. Worth-Denton musical community, playing clubs, shows, concerts, recording sessions, private and corporate functions and teaching; the bread-and-butter work of the big city pro. But with the formation of the Rodney Booth Band, however, he joined that select group of bandleading trumpeter/vocalists: Armstrong, Baker, Louis Prima, 'Hot Lips' Page and Billy Eckstine. About the music: "It Happened In Monterrey", "I Thought about You', "I Wanna Be Around' and "All Or Nothing At All" were arranged by Tom Merriman, one of the world's leading composer/arrangers of radio & TV jingles for decades. His work set the standard for countless other arrangers (myself included). Here, however, we're afforded the rare opportunity to hear his special way with Great American Standards. On "All Or Nothing at All"; a masterpiece gets a world-class arrangement which, in turn, gets played to perfection by the band. Rod could only sing the hell out of it (and he does!). "That's All" and "The Way You Look Tonight" are the work of Phil Kelly. His credits include arrangements for vocalistsFrank D'Rone, Buddy Greco, Sylvia Sims and Julius La Rosa, as well as work for Doc Severinsen, several feature films and countless national TV & radio jingles. It's difficult for me to be objective about his work, since we two go back several decades. He's been a role model, mentor, advocate and good friend; indeed, he was one of my major inspirations and influences. "The Way You Look Tonight" is classic PK; superbly orchestrated, harmonically astute and constantly in motion rhythmically (he was a world- class big band drummer, too!). The band swings hard yet effortlessly; Rod is a double-threat here, vocally and instrumentally (don't miss the double high 'C' at the end of his trumpet solo!). You'll be struck by the surprisingly gentle vocals on "That's All" and "I Thought About You"- I certainly was! (the Chet Baker influence is unmistakable). But then, unlike Baker, RB can do more forceful stuff, like "It Don't Mean A Thing" and "Is You Is...?" , the latter very effectively arranged by Rod himself, with charging solos from Chris McGuire on tenor, Jim Riggs on alto and Brian Piper on piano. The sensitive arrangement of "My Foolish Heart" by the late, great Pete Vollmers is a totally instrumental feature for Chris McGuire, a supremely talented multi-instrumentalist (and, incidentally, one of the best jazz clarinetists ever!). McGuire is simply superb here-period! Jim Riggs, a world-class multi-woodwind master (and former Regents Professor Of Saxophone at UNT), deserves special mention. His performing credits are too numerous to mention here, but they do include Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett; his former students include Tim Ries (of the Rolling Stones backup band), Bill Evans ( in Miles Davis' 80's bands) and Dan Higgins (a studio ace who's done soundtracks with John Williams, among others). Riggs, as you'll hear, has his own way with the musical idiom founded by Charlie Parker (and continued so indelibly by Phil Woods and others). None of this would work, however, without the high-level ensemble work of the other gentlemen of the orchestra: dependable and ever-swinging lead trumpet from Jay ('Hey, Now!') Saunders (effectively aided by the ubiquitous Noyder Thobo), the equally dependable anchoring baritone sax of Roger Holmes, the solid trombone work of John Osborne and Keith Adkins, the bedrock bass lines of Carl Hillman and the expert drumming of Mike Drake and Joel Fountain. Brian Piper and Floyd Darling, two of my favorite fellow pianists-and people, alternate on keys. A confession -and disclaimer: I arrranged "Summer Wind" and "It Don't Mean a Thing"; RB and Co. 'nailed' both of them! Many thanks! Dave Zoller.