Steve Kenny, FLUMPET Thomas Strommen, Tenor Sax Will Kjeer, Piano Adam Tucker, Bass Alex Burgess, Drums The story of Group 47 can't be told without including a little bit of the story of the Artists' Quarter, a musician-run Twin Cities Jazz club which loomed large on the American upper Midwest live Jazz performance landscape for nearly three decades. In that amazing institution, under the direction and ownership of drummer extraordinaire Kenny Horst, many musicians and groups were nurtured and then went on to achieve national and international acclaim. Group 47 incubated at the Artists' Quarter for over five years, first as a weekly early set jam session led by saxophonist Dejen Tesfagiorgis, and then as a weekly performance group known as 'Steve Kenny and the Bastids,' a name coined by pianist and longtime band member, Jesse Mueller. In the 'Bastids' days, the band also included saxophonist Sten Johnson, guitarist David Feily and was anchored by drummer Aaron Rupar. When the writing on the wall for the eventual closing of the Artists' Quarter was starting to become clear, the weekly engagement evolved into the current membership of Group 47, and as such, played out the last several months of regular early set Wednesdays until the club finally closed several hours after midnight at the start of 2014. For months, the Group 47 momentum had been building to the point where it was obvious that the ensemble was destined for a long history outside of the incubatory Artists' Quarter, so the band started recording 'Straight to Vinyl' in the midst of a 19-degree-below-zero polar vortex a few days before the Artists' Quarter had closed. The group also made the rounds gigging in the Twin Cities, performing shows at The Dakota Jazz Club, Jazz Central Studios, the Black Dog, and gave a college concert at University of Wisconsin-River Falls. These performances were live renditions of the material already in-the-can for this LP. 'Straight to Vinyl' is both the title of this recording and shorthand for the philosophy behind the performance and production techniques and the values that drove it's creation. The music on this LP was recorded in-the-round with minimal use of microphones and is presented with absolutely no overdubbing, pitch correction or other modern post-production techniques. Minor editing and mixing was necessary to assemble the tracks, but the intent was to present a true representation of the ensemble's magic as demonstrated in their weekly live performances under the artistic confines of creating clean, reasonable-length, and somewhat radio-ready performances of these tunes. As is the case for our live performances, there were no charts allowed in the studio for these sessions. There were other unmentionable arbitrary stipulations that I had the privilege of imposing, and each member of Group 47 was very gracious about tolerating my pontificating and rule-making, as well as my terrible jokes and profane utterances. This all falls into the category of... 'you had to be there,' to be sure, but then again, in the spirit of 'Straight to Vinyl,' it really is like you, the listener, were there, in the sense that you are holding this document in your hand and it's a true rendition of what the 'there' was, actually. Published through the release of this LP is a first opportunity for wide audiences to hear the compositions and improvisatory prowess of three new emerging Jazz musicians: Will Kjeer's 'Saving Document' is full of simplicity and solid swing, allowing for expressing understated, Monk-like, no-embarrassment-possible assuredness. This is countered by the over-the-top exuberance and discombobulated ensemble alignment of Thomas Strommen's 'Sad Mud,' and rounded out by 'Emily,' a startlingly sparse and darkly beautiful ballad written by Alex Burgess. My tunes are offered as filler for the aforementioned material. The main part of 'Time Warner' is a tribute to the long-ago passing of Twin Cities Jazz Guitarist Warner Brown, and it's intro is a theme from a decades-old tribute to my late mother, Norma Jean. 'Big House' wa
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