Charles McPherson Quartet
Thursday, February 28th, 8 p.m.| Fulkerson Recital Hall, HSU
"McPherson's music is a felicitous blend of urbane sophistication and youthful passion that combines fire and finesse in equal measure."
—George Varga, Jazz Times
Sometime around 1953, a young Charles McPherson heard Charlie Parker’s “Tico Tico” on a Detroit jukebox and his life was forever changed. “I was completely floored,” he says, “and from that point on, it was like, ‘that’s it.’” Before the end of the decade, he was playing alto sax with Bird’s contemporaries and forging a career that’s continued for over six decades.
During that span, he’s collaborated with the likes of Barry Harris, Art Farmer, Pepper Adams, Kenny Drew, George Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Lionel Hampton, and Charles Mingus, in whose band McPherson played for twelve years. ("[H]is ardent, chirruping attack," says Giovanni Russonello in the New York Times, "became a defining component of the ensemble.") The list goes on: Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, Billy Eckstine, Tommy Flanagan, Tom Harrell, Billy Higgins, Sam Jones, Cedar Walton…and on: Adderley, Brecker, Marsalis, Byard, Dorham…
As a leader, McPherson has released over twenty-five albums and fronted dozens of bands, often exploring new approaches and configurations, but always rooted in the sound that enchanted him as a kid. A master of the bebop idiom, McPherson even played the saxophone voice of Charlie Parker for Clint Eastwood’s 1988 biopic, Bird. For lovers of bebop, you won’t get any closer to the real thing than seeing this legend in person. As The New Yorker put it recently: "to witness an authentic master of the art, like the altoist McPherson, can still elicit a genuine spinal chill."
As a composer, McPherson has worked most recently in collaboration with San Diego Ballet, who in 2015 premiered his Sweet Synergy Suite, a large-scale piece for jazz ensemble with choreography by Javier Velasco. This May, the Ballet will premiere his newest work, Song of Songs.
McPherson has received a slew of awards for his historic contributions to jazz, including an honorary CSU doctorate in 2015. This April, Jazz at Lincoln Center will help him celebrate his 80th birthday, together with McCoy Tyner’s, by premiering new arrangements of some of the two men’s most iconic compositions.
Backing up McPherson for this RJA appearance is a trio of topnotch accompanists. Pianist, composer, and arranger Jeb Patton is a regular with folks like the Heath Brothers, The Dizzy Gillespie All Stars, George Coleman, and Jon Faddis, as well as his own trio. L. A. bassist Jeff Littleton has worked with everyone from Herbie Hancock to Nancy Wilson, Freddie Hubbard, Hank Crawford, Pharoah Sanders, Billy Higgins, and Charles Lloyd. Billy Drummond, who got his start playing drums for greats including Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, and Bobby Hutcherson, has lent his versatile style to hundreds of records and released a handful of acclaim-winning albums as a leader.
Mr. McPherson will also
present an openpublic workshop at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, March 1st, in Music 131 on the HSU campus (across the walkway, opposite the lobby of Fulkerson Recital Hall). People of all levels of experience are welcome to attend, and admission is FREE.
Video (see also at left):
Audio (see also at left):
This concert is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts via the Western Jazz Presenters Network.