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MP3 Mark Boling - Tune Me

Pianist Donald Brown (Jazz Messengers) and South African saxophonist Zim Ngqawana (Abdullah Ibrahim) join post-bop guitarist Mark Boling in a set of organic original compositions that are alternately driving, playful, ethereal, and exuberant.

11 MP3 Songs in this album (67:07) !
Related styles: JAZZ: Bebop, JAZZ: Post-Bop

People who are interested in McCoy Tyner Pat Metheny John Scofield should consider this download.

Tune Me is post-bop guitarist Mark Boling''s second album as a leader and most personal statement to date. Pianist Donald Brown and South African saxophonist Zim Ngqawana join Boling''s quartet in a set of organic tunes that draw on the compositional influences of McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter, John Coltrane, and Ornette Coleman. Bassist Rusty Holloway, drummer Keith Roy Brown and percussionist Carlos Fernandez lay the foundation for the creation of moods ranging from the driving "Shadow of Your Wings," to the playful "Birdsong Soul," to the exuberant "Zimistry." The influence of Donald Brown on Boling''s compositions is evident. Boling says, "Since we first started playing together in 1988, Donald Brown has been an inspiration to me as a composer and a player. For several years my goal has been to make a recording of my original compositions with Donald on piano. It all came together beautifully on Tune Me. Having Carlos and Zim play on the record is the icing on the cake."

Some of Boling''s compositions reflect the bebop tradition of composing new melodies over classic chord progressions. "William''s Sunny Spring," for instance, started out as an exercise for a student that combines the melodic rhythm of a Charlie Parker tune with the harmony of a Miles Davis composition. Other tunes like the ethereal "Turtle Canyon" range into more modern territory a la Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. All the compositions and improvisations contain familiar elements, but with a fresh angle in the way they are constructed.

Tune Me includes two tunes that Boling did not write: There is an up tempo romp by the Boling, Brown and Holloway trio on "Firm Roots", a Cedar Walton jazz standard. You may remember "I''m Through With Love" as the song that Alfalfa sings to Darla in one of the old Our Gang movies, but you probably never heard it with the bass bowing the melody. This arrangement provides a light-hearted relief after Boling''s Adrian Belew meets Jimi Hendrix coda on Boling''s intense 7/4 blues called "Shadow of Your Wings."

Mark Boling''s improvisational style has been compared to his obvious influences such as Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, George Benson, Pat Metheny and John Scofield. Boling also credits pianist McCoy Tyner, saxophonists Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane, and guitarist Jimmy Hendrix for aspects of his musical vocabulary. Boling''s guitar sound on Tune Me is rich and warm with a natural spruce clarity, and fluid, soulful phrasing. His creative comping behind bass and sax solos reveals unexpected harmonic and textural vistas. In addition to several brilliant solos, Donald Brown adds his inimitable lush bed of piano voicings and quirky counter melodies that make the listener sit up and take notice. Zim Ngqawana improvises beautiful pentatonic-based melodies on "Celestial Ringing," then brings pleading, bleating, animal urgency and drive in the sounds and rhythms of his alto sax on the blues called "Zimistry." On four of the tunes, percussionist Carlos Fernandez adds layers of percussive soundscapes, with earthy bamboo wind chimes, shakers, tambourines, and triangle, in addition to his driving conga, bongo, and timbale grooves. Holloway adds several of his trademark melodious bass solos, and locks in with Keith Brown''s hard swinging drumming to provide rhythmic forward motion throughout the set.

Mark Boling''s relationship with the musicians on Tune Me goes beyond the recording studio. Boling is Associate Professor of Music and Coordinator of the Jazz Studies Program at the University of Tennessee School of Music. Rusty Holloway, Keith Brown, and Donald Brown have also been faculty members since the 1980s. "We have played literally thousands of gigs together over the years," says Boling, "and in addition to being incredible musicians, these guys are some of my closest friends. There is a level of trust and communication that we have developed by being involved in mentoring student musicians that goes far beyond what most traveling musicians have a chance to experience." Zim Ngqawana was artist-in-residence for the UT "Africa Semester" in the spring of 2003. In addition to teaching classes and ensembles Zim played a series of concerts across the state of Tennessee with the UT jazz faculty group. Boling says, "We developed such a rapport, we thought we should try to get in the studio and get some tracks done with Zim." Carlos Fernandez happened to move to the Knoxville area last year just in time to round out the sound of this group with some spicy percussion.

The Tune Me project took longer than anticipated to develop since the 2001 release of Evidence, Boling''s debut as a leader. He had long planned to do a recording with Donald Brown, but the project was put on hold as Brown recovered from shoulder and hand surgery. In the mean time, Boling spent the time refining his compositions and improvisational vocabulary in preparation for the recording. Check out Tune Me. It was well worth the wait!

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