Dec 27, 2013 - Swing in the New Year
If it’s true that a great rhythm section makes for great swing music, then those who attend the New Year’s Eve event at the Jazz Depot this year ought to be able to swing until the cows come home. According to the well-known trumpeter and vocalist Jeff Shadley, who’s fronting the group, his rhythm players are going to be the best around.
“We have my favorite A-team bassist and drummer, Jordan Hehl and Jared Johnson,” he says. “Jared’s just a gem. He’s priceless. I’ve heard him sing, I’ve heard him play guitar, and I’ve heard him play drums. I’ve played his arrangements and his original stuff. The guy is just an amazing musician. He’s hands-down my favorite drummer to play with, and he has been for years.
“And then we have Jordan, an amazingly lyrical player whose intonation is just perfect. He has a lyrical approach to soloing that I absolutely love, and he’s a great human being. I just love having the guy in the band.”
Then there’s the third member of the rhythm A-team, who happens to be Shadley’s younger brother Tim. Although his first instrument is the trombone, Tim Shadley has become a rising star on jazz piano, thanks in part to his regular performances at the Jazz Depot’s Jazzwich show, held every Wednesday during the lunch hour. “Right now, we’ve got him slated for piano. He’s at the point now where people mention him along with the top pianists in the area, which is a pretty cool thing,” says Jeff Shadley.
“In many ways,” Shadley adds, “he’s one of the more rhythmic guys in the rhythm section. He reminds you that the piano is, after all, a percussion instrument, and I think a lot of that comes from his work in Latin bands. He co-leads Grupo Salsabor now, a really great Latin band. It’s fun to watch him drive that rhythm, and I really appreciate having him on a rhythm-section instrument.”
Beyond the rhythm players, there’ll be at least four – and possibly more – other musicians in the New Year’s Eve group, including saxophonist Gary Linde and Shadley himself. Longtime Shadley fans will be happy to know that the repertoire includes a generous helping of the Rat Pack-style swing tunes he began doing back in the ‘90s as well as material from even earlier, when he launched a well-received group dubbed the Turbo Horns.
“I started that project by writing adaptations of jazz standards for four horns, which was cool, because once you get the four horns, you can start putting in some really neat harmonies and get some cool tensions in the chords you’re playing,’ he explains. “So over the years, I put together a book for this four-horn thing. I have maybe two songs in it that are original, but there’s just so much wonderful music out there that I can never picture myself topping what Juan Tizol and Cole Porter and those guys have already done.”
The Turbo Horns were active throughout the ‘90s and beyond, but Shadley admits he hadn’t been playing those arrangements much lately.
“I have kind of been neglecting that project for too long, because there are so many other things to explore,” he says. “But we got the book out about six months ago and it reminded me how much fun those charts are to play. So we’re going to dust ‘em off and get ‘em out for New Year’s Eve.
“We’ll have the Rat Pack stuff, too, and we may even cover a couple of jazz-rock things, like Chicago or Blood, Sweat & Tears, songs that have made their way into the book over the years. I’ll probably have another trumpet player there, because I end up doing a lot of singing nowadays, and [a second trumpet player] allows me more flexibility than I would otherwise have. I’ll get a chance to play on some of those things, too, but I just like having a little help.”
Swing in the New Year with the Jeff Shadley Big Band is set to begin at 9:00 p.m. Tuesday, December 31, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. The show follows the regular Tuesday night Depot Jam Session, which runs from 5:30 until 8:00 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, online, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General Admission tickets are only $15 (or $10 for Jazz Hall members). Reserved Table Seating tickets, which include complimentary champagne, can be purchased for $40.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through the preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.
Also follow our news on ireports.cnn.com.