January 2012 CD of the Month
Gary Smulyan "Smul's Paradise" Capri Records
Gary Smulyan is considered the greatest baritone saxophonist since Gerry Mulligan and one of jazz’s all-time finest. Smulyan has won the Downbeat Critics Poll for Baritone Saxophone in 2011 and previously in 2009. Moreover, Gary was named the 2011 Jazz Times Readers and Critics Poll for Baritone Saxophonist of the Year plus many other citations for his skills over the years. While still in high school in Bethpage, Long Island, NY ‘Smul’ sat in with legendary artists such as Chet Baker, Jimmy Knepper, Ray Nance and others. Upon finishing Hofstra University, Gary embarked on his professional career that landed him stints with Woody Herman, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea, Tito Puente and many other prominent jazz players as well as venturing into the blues and R ‘n’ B. Besides his busy touring and recording schedule as a leader and a sideman, Smulyan lives in Amherst, MA where he’s an educator at the Amherst College as well as serving as Artistic Director of the Berkshire Hills Music Academy.
For his newest recording, Gary inked a deal with Bailey, CO’s own Capri Records which has released Smul’s Paradise. In the history of jazz, it is very infrequent that one can find a bari sax led organ trio due to the limitations of the baritone sax, however in the hands of Smulyan, these barriers are overcome due to the mastery he is known for. Recording an organ trio album has been an ambition of Gary for a long time because as a teenager it was his favorite format. To ensure this accomplishment would be of the highest caliber, “Smul’ enlisted the very talented Mike LeDonne to play the B-3, the gifted guitarist Peter Bernstein and the always tasty drummer, Kenny Washington. The 8 swingin’ selections of this CD will undoubtedly make you a toe tapper while transporting you to a jazz lover’s paradise.