Legends, CJI’s first recording, features music from the early 20th century to 2010 that documents Charleston’s influence in the jazz performance traditions of many of this country’s big bandleaders, sidemen, and soloists. It marks the first CD recording of tunes composed, arranged or performed by musicians of Charleston and South Carolina’s rich jazz legacy.
In June 2010 during CJI’s Legends Festival, the CJI Legends Band, an eighteen-piece big band, performed and completed a live and studio recording. The concert was recorded live at Sottile Theatre on June 5, and the next day, musicians completed a studio recording at Charleston Sound in Mount Pleasant, SC, the area’s premier recording studio.
A $40,000 Access to Artistic Excellence grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), helped to fund the CD and is a significant national distinction for CJI’s efforts, Charleston’s flourishing jazz scene, and the city’s rich jazz legacy. It marks the first time that the federal arts agency has awarded funds to promote, record, document and preserve the jazz performance and historic traditions of Charleston.
Highlights of the CD include compositions, solos, and performances by several Legends Festival guests including NEA Jazz Masters Slide HamptonTM and Jimmy Heath; Florence, SC native and tenor saxophonist Houston Person; drummer/percussionist Tootie Heath; John Williams, baritone saxophonist, 25-year veteran of the Count Basie Orchestra and Orangeburg, SC native; Joey Morant , trumpeter, touring musician and Charleston’s jazz ambassador; and Charleston jazz legends, Lonnie Hamilton III, George Kenny, Oscar Rivers Jr., Ann Caldwell, Quentin Baxter, and Charlton Singleton.
CD selections include features by Slide Hampton and Jimmy Heath — Hampton’s world premiere, “Gullah Suite: A Tribute to Buddy Johnson & John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie,” a CJI-commissioned tune in three movements, and Jimmy Heath’s “Without You, No Me,” his tribute to Dizzy Gillespie. Hampton’s premiere and Heath’s composition will be the first time compositions by these two NEA Jazz Masters have been performed and recorded live in Charleston with local and nationally-recognized musicians.
Other featured new music includes “437 Race Street,” a big band composition by Joey Morant that highlights a familiar street on Charleston’s east side; and “Brother Blake,” a 2005 CJI-commissioned work by Quentin Baxter that is a tribute to William Blake, Jenkins Orphanage Band director from 1920-1958.
Other CD selections include jazz standards popularized by Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Erskine Hawkins — bands in which many Charleston/South Carolina musicians were featured as sidemen (Cat Anderson, Freddie Green. Jabbo Smith). The CD also includes tunes that have been composed, arranged, and performed by South Carolinians’ Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Johnson (“Since I Fell for You”), Fud Livingston (“I’m Through With Love”), Julian Dash (“Tuxedo Junction”) and Freddie Green (“Corner Pocket”).
The musicians of the band are professional local and internationally-recognized instrumentalists, several featured soloists, musicians of the Franklin Street Five, a Jenkins Orphanage Tribute band debuted by CJI in 2005, and featured guests. Charlton Singleton, a CJI musician since 2003 and artistic director of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra (CJO) – Charleston’s resident big band orchestra under the auspices of the Jazz Artists of Charleston (JAC), served as bandleader.Charleston Jazz Initiative Legends Band CD Dr. Karen Chandler, Executive Producer Jack McCray, Producer; Author, Liner Notes Quentin Baxter, Engineer and Producer Charlton Singleton, Bandleader Tony Bell, Photographer Colin Quashie, Graphic Design Reeds Oscar Rivers Jr. George Kenny Mark Sterbank Lonnie Hamilton III John Williams John Cobb Trumpets Joey Morant Chuck Dalton Cameron Handel Charlton Singleton Trombones Teddy Adams Timothy J. Robinson Mitchell Butler Phil King Rhythm Tommy Gill, piano Kevin Hamilton, bass Quentin Baxter, drums and percussion Vocals Ann Caldwell Tony Burke