The release is the second and the first in four years for the non-profit organization, which is celebrating its 15th Anniversary season. Home is a collaboration between the Jazz Series, which serves as executive producer, and the two acclaimed artists who serve as associate producers. "Throughout this celebratory season we have tried to offer some different and special programming," notes Jon Poses, who founded the Jazz Series in 1995 and has served as its executive director since 1999 when it became a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. "We wanted to start the 2009/2010 season with something exceptional. And we did - Bruce and Steve as a duo. It had been five years since our last House Concert - and it was time to visit the concept again. We're very fortunate that one of our board members has not only a good-sized, warm and comfortable house with a perfect living room, but also owns a fabulous Steinway piano."
Seven selections from the concert, including four Barth originals written specifically for the occasion, were sequenced for the release. In addition to the Barth originals, Home includes Cole Porter's "All Through The Night," taken from the hit show Anything Goes; an up-to-the-minute reading of "Sweet & Lovely," a standard; and a spectacular interpretation of Bud Powell's "Wail." Wilson plays mostly alto saxophone but also contributes stellar soprano saxophone on the date.
Poses, who himself has written more than 100 sets of liner notes, called upon Bob Blumenthal to annotate Home. "Bob's about as good as it gets," said Poses. "We're honored to have him participate. I felt the quality of the music and the project - and the nature of the occasion - called for someone of his stature." Poses complemented Blumenthal's notes with a personalized descriptive piece. "I wanted Bob to talk with Bruce and Steve about the music they presented; what I tried to do is place the 'We Always Swing' Jazz Series as a whole, and this concert as a specific event, into some sort of context of what we attempt do organizationally."
As for Barth and Wilson, both landed in New York within a year of each other in the late 1980s. They met shortly thereafter and have worked together - as members of others' and each other's bands - often since then. However, as frequently as they have shared the stage - and the studio - during the course of the past two decades-plus they realized they had never recorded as a duo.
"I like Steve's earthy, funky, soulful approach, which at the same time is very sophisticated melodically and harmonically," Barth (pictured at right; photo credit: Janis Wilkins) said to Blumenthal during their interview, offering an explanation of the musicians'
mutual attraction. "He will always surprise you, and his improvisations are fantastic, but even in playing a melody he finds a way to put his stamp on it while still being true to the spirit of the original. I can identify him in three seconds when I hear him on the radio, whether on soprano or alto."
Wilson (pictured left; photo credit: John Abbott) offered a complementary take in Blumenthal's notes. "It's like tightrope walking without a net. There's that empty space, and the temptation to fill it all up keeps you honest. It forces me to be patient and listen even more closely I talk to my students about our `internal rhythm sections' and having a drummer's mentality I'm a frustrated drummer. Particularly with Bruce, his innate sense of time is there but is also unique; we canbreathe together. It's a beautiful balance, keeping that internal drummer yet not worrying about when it slows down or speeds up."
Both Barth and Wilson have made previous Jazz Series appearances; Barth has appeared twice as a member of trumpeter Terell Stafford's group as well as a member of Wilson's quartet; Wilson has appeared in Columbia previously as a member of Chick Corea's Origin, the late pianist James Williams' Intensive Care Unit and, most recently aside from this performance, as a member of the all-star aggregation that went out as the Blue Note 7.
Barth and Wilson are set to return to Columbia on April 25 for a special performance and CD Release Party at Murry's Restaurant & Bar, a venue that has presented national jazz artists since opening in 1985. "Bruce's and Steve's 'reprise' in Columbia kind of serves as the other 'bookend' to our 15th Anniversary Season," noted Poses. "They got things started last summer. Since then we have hosted some 20 events - great concerts, educational activities, a film series...now we have the opportunity to have Bruce and Steve neatly wrap and gently close the door on the 2009/2010 season. It's particularly gratifying to have them appear at Murry's, which has been one of our really important venues since our inception. It's also a place where both Bruce and Steve have performed previously on numerous occasions. It should be fun," concluded Poses.
Home will be distributed nationally through the Jazz Series and its web site -wealwaysswing.org - as well as through both Barth's and Wilson's respective web sites (brucebarth.com; stevewilsonmusic.com). Additionally the project will be available through CD Baby. Plans are in the works to make available digital downloads of a select number of tunes as well as the CD in its entirety.
The "We Always Swing" Jazz Series, founded in 1995, is an all-jazz, community-based concert producing and educational organization located in Columbia, MO. A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to "present, promote, preserve AND celebrate the great American art form known as "Jazz." The Jazz Series, administered by "We Always Swing," Inc., is an affiliated program of the University of Missouri's College of Arts & Science. The organization receives funding via ticket revenue; national, state and local grants and contracts for services; sponsorships from area businesses; advertisement-based revenue; in-house merchandise; and from individuals' generous tax-deductible contributions.