With John in Mind
INFORMATION ABOUT SAXOPHONIST STEVE HECKMAN AND HIS NEW CD 'WITH JOHN IN MIND' Personnel: Steve Heckman-Tenor, Soprano, and Baritone Saxophones, Matt Clark-Piano; Lee Alexander-Bass; Diego Voglino--drums Born and raised his first 20 years in Brooklyn, N.Y., Steve absorbed many musical influences during the exciting times of the late 60's, first and foremost of whom was the great tenor saxophone giant, John Coltrane. Steve's debut CD, aptly titled 'With John in Mind', represents the culmination of a lifetime of studying Trane's sound and harmonic approach to improvising, and is an expression of tribute to the late saxophone master. Although 'With John in Mind' consists primarily of Steve's original compositions, they are performed with an emotional depth and spiritual quality quite reminiscent of Coltrane. However, Steve is not a carbon copy of Trane (as if that in itself is any easy accomplishment!), having developed his own uniquely expressive, poignantly beautiful, crystalline sound and cascading, serpentine yet lyrical approach to both improvisation and composition. At the ripe young age of 17, Steve's playing was noticed by veteran bebop trumpeter Howard McGhee as well as by pioneering trombonist Roswell Rudd, both of whom he performed with in New York City. At college in Binghamton, N.Y. Steve played with such notables as bassist Slam Stewart and trombonist Urbie Green. Further study at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana found him as a member of the quintet known as Gekko Lizard, featuring pianist Jim McNeely (later to hold down the piano chair in the groups of Stan Getz, Ted Curson and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra) and bassist Jon Burr (who went on to work with Horace Silver, Tony Bennett, and Stephane Grappelly). Living in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1977, Steve was a member of trumpeter Eddie Henderson's quintet which featured rising piano star Benny Green. In addition to leading his own quartets, Steve has co-led quintets with trumpeter/composer Graham Bruce, as well as been a featured soloist with the trios of pianists Dick Conte and Larry Vuckovich in a variety of venues, including Yoshi's, Kimball's, Stanford Jazz Workshop, and the Cotati and San Jose Jazz Festivals, to name a few. Over the years, Steve has kept fast company with the likes of: pianists Andrew Hill, George Cables and Jessica Williams; drummers Eddie Moore, Donald Bailey and Walfredo Reyes Sr.; percussionists Pete Escovedo and Helcio Melito: trumpeter Tom Harrell; guitarists Cal Collins, Bruce Foreman, and Mimi Fox; bassist Herbie Lewis; and vocalists Kellye Gray and Madeline Eastman, He was also privileged to play loft sessions with both guitarist John Abercrombie as well as the late trumpet legend Chet Baker. Steve's playing has been highly praised by saxophonists as diverse as Stan Getz ('Beautiful!'), Charles Lloyd ('A beautiful talent'), and Pharoah Sanders ('This cat can play!'). Of his work, critics have offered the following comments: 'An extravaganza of dazzling tenor playing' All Music Guide 'Some of the best playing I've heard anywhere' Francesca Nemko, Jazz Now 'Virtuosic command of his horns: genuine feeling' Jazz Times 'Exciting music, adventuresome and musically superb' Cadence 'A well-crafted and compelling artistic statement. This is a kick-ass saxophonist with finesse. His solo on Body and Soul is phenomenal, as is his bari playing on Everything Happens to Me. The tunes, the band, Heckman's sound on tenor, are all world-class. I am knocked out. This CD is killin', no holds barred.' Tim Price, saxophonist/reviewer, Saxophone Journal 'I come away greatly impressed with Heckman's mastery of the saxophone. All of the selections are remarkable for their fluidity, energy, texture and richness of melody, as well as interplay with the other musicians. Heckman's improvisational technique is exceptional, yet the melody and sense of swing are never lost. This is a fine jazz CD!' Jim Clark, 'Jazz Nightly' (NPR) Note: This CD also features the virtuoso piano playing of rising star Matt Clark, who can be heard to good advantage with the Marcus Shelby Trio. It also features bassist Lee Alexander (featured here on upright bass), who has since gone on to be featured as bassist and composer on 8-Grammy winning Norah Jones' debut DC 'Come Away with Me'. (Congratulations to both Lee and Norah.)The group is rounded out by the exquisitely tasteful drumming of Diego Voglino.