Florida based saxophonist John Ricci has released his CD Holding Time. This was my first time hearing John Ricci and it will certainly not be my last! Ricci recently accepted a position as the Director of Jazz Studies at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, FL. As of this writing, I am eager to Google him and find out much more about this remarkable saxophonist. You will want to know more about him as well when you listen to Holding Time.

Theo Wanne has increased the offerings in his new product line this year. The spectacular KALI is featured in this new review. His wooden mouthpiece, PARVATI is quite interesting as well. Read on here or at theowanne.com to learn more about Theo Wanne Classic Mouthpieces.

Randy Hunter, soon to be a member of the faculty of Emory University, has penned the follow up to his first two etude books. Jazz Etudes for Saxophone Level 3 is a continuum of the concepts laid down in his previous publications. Randy’s books are easy to understand and packed with information for any student of jazz saxophone.

Also, up for review is Howard Isaacson’s Blue Skies. Howard and I both began working in Atlantic City when the casino industry was in its infancy there. Over the years Howard and I have played opposite each other on the same stage as well as side by side in the same showroom sections. His list of performance credits is impressive and he continues to carve out a place for himself in the smooth jazz arena. Howard takes center stage on Blue Skies playing woodwinds and surrounding himself with some of A.C.’s finest.

In addition to catching up with book and CD reviews, I have had the pleasure of playing with several different groups back in Philadelphia. Performing with different musicians is always a nice distraction from the norm – not to mention good for keeping you on your toes. Only last week I found myself in the studio again with my good friend and pianist Dean Schneider. This time it was recording a children’s musical.

Last fall I was happy to become more involved with a couple projects by local artists. One such recording was The Ed Vezinho Jim Ward Big Band’s With Friends Like These. The EVJW Big Band’s third release features many of the Delaware Valley’s finest joining the 26-year-old band for this monumental effort. I am honored to be between Ed and Jim’s “friends” on this album. This CD is burning. Ed’s writing and Jim’s lead playing are astounding but that only serves as a canvas for the band’s relentless swing and each guest artist’s contribution. I am proud to review this offering with many of my own friends who shared their talents.

Lastly, deadlines continue to come and go with my SJ contributions. I continue to work on artist interviews and I have just completed my sixth Saxophone Journal Masterclass CD. This time the subject is Rock and Roll Saxophone Quartet. That’s right. That’s what I said, "Rock and Roll Saxophone Quartet." It’s a bit of an oddity but interesting enough. The focus is on original Rock and Roll saxophone music of the 50s and 60s, set for quartet. The idea of doing a “virtual” saxophone quartet CD was bounced around between the editor, publisher and me. The original concept was that I would write and record all the parts as overdubs. The style and setting of the quartet was undecided. The idea of a separate Rock and Roll Masterclass CD was also discussed. Somehow in the end it became the two ideas combined into the R’nR Sax Quartet! Initially I was challenged with how to write for such an animal. How does one write for 4 honkin’ and growlin’ saxophones? One saxophone growling is a good thing. Four saxophones growling pretty much sounds like a lawnmower! Once I started writing and recording the project, things just seemed to make more sense. The final product is scheduled to appear this Fall in Saxophone Journal. Rock on!

In the meantime I will continue to transcribe as time allows. Marcus Miller’s Just for You, featuring David Sanborn is the most recent addition. Looking at the transcription sample list, I suspect there are a few more on my hard drive that never got posted…stay tuned.

Stay Well and Play Well.