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Knoxville Jazz Orchestra Releases New CD On Blue Canoe Records!
(Published: January 08, 2020)

Knoxville, TN January 6th, 2020 -
The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra's (K.J.O.) founder, director and arranger Vance Thompson has released a new CD The Road Less Traveled on Blue Canoe Records, the groups 4th release!

Vance Thompson grew up in East Tennessee in a family of church musicians. His father and mother served as church choir director and church pianist respectively, and several members of the extended family played music as well. Thompson started playing piano at the age of five and picked up the trumpet at age ten!

Vance discovered jazz in high school through a record collection that belonged to a friend's father. The collection included recordings by Lee Morgan, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Hank Crawford, Charlie Parker and many others.

Not long after, Thompson learned that both Jerry Coker and Donald Brown taught at the University of Tennessee, just a few miles from home. He began studying with Coker while still in high school, and worked with both Coker and Brown as an undergraduate at UT. Later Vance studied at and graduated from Du Paul University with a master of music degree!

Along with the aforementioned duties Vance is also the CD's co-producer along with jazz great pianist Donald Brown who's production credits for superior productions are stacked high!

While the CD is loaded with exceptional musicians and soloist the team has assembled a very impressive list of guest artist including Eric Reed, Gregory Tardy, Michael Dease and vocalist Carmen Bradford!

The 12 tune set blast off with an exhilarating arrangement of Rhythm-A-Ning and Eric Reed delivers brilliantly in the Monk chair! Greg Tardy on tenor, Will Boyd on soprano and trumpeter Tim Heflin all add to the front line heroics!

A composer of many wonderful tunes, Mulgrew Miller's Grew's Tune is presented here and the essence of the tune is captured royally! Just as soulful as the original and Tim Heflin's trumpet solo is extremely lyrical and passionate. The bright and crisp arrangement has expended the possibles with exquisite results!

From one great composer to another leads to the 1965 classic with music by Burt Bacharach, What The World Need Now! Arranged by Bill Frisell and orchestrated by Vance Thompson, a big thanks for bringing this gem to the fore front at a time when we certainly do need more love!

This tune introduces the rich and imaginative guitar soloing of Mike Seal to the recording. Such a welcomed addition!

The Jimmy Rowles composition The Peacocks brings forth the the tender vocals of Carman Bradford who delivers an enchanting version and she wraps her warm tone around each word! Carmen also delivers an arousing version of At Last here!

The spotlight is also on featured guest trombonist Michael Dease and he delivers brightly!

Perhaps the most interesting inclusion's are Bob Nolan's Tumbling Tumbleweeds and Pee Wee Kings Tennessee Waltz as country, jazz and blues all meet at the intersection however there isn't an accident but rather a brand new model!

Vance explains "the idea of performing these tune's was created for a concert that we did a few years back called Country and Bluegrass Meet the Big Band. We all new Tennessee Waltz however Tumbling Tumbleweeds has a memorable melody, and the harmony actually lends itself nicely to a funky, bluesy kind of vibe. Once the band got it, it really started to cook"!

Eric Reed and Mike Seal return as soloist and Greg Tardy with Mike on Tennessee Waltz!

Vance Thompson's com-positional skills are wonderfully on display with the title track The Road Less Traveled. Alto saxophonist Bernell Jones makes his debut with a dazzling solo and Greg Tardy continues with his masterful tenor playing!
The arranging here is astounding! Drummer Keith Brown takes a thunderous solo here!

Donald Brown's Back Down In Lu Easy Anna is musically true to the tunes name! Vance Thompson explains the unique spelling this way " the title was inspired by one of Donald's sons, who was assigned Louisiana as a word to spell as a third or fourth grader. Lu Easy Anna was his first guess! The composition itself is a masterpiece. It comes across as down home and soulful, but the melody and harmony are both incredibly sophisticated. All three soloists play beautifully on this one"!

Whether it's Ahmad Jamal 's trio, Miles Davis, Coleman Hawkins or Dizzy Gillespie the composer version Woody 'N You is a great jazz standard! Vance Thompson's arrangement revitalizes this jewel. The tempo is quick and all three soloist s, Michael Dease, Greg Tardy and alto saxophonist Mark Tucker each had their own exclamation point!

On both Monk's Mood and Ask Me Now Eric Reed is featured and he is magnificent as is the arranging and orchestrations of Vance Thompson. And as is the new release The Road Less Traveled, a magnificent recording!

More Information: http://www.knoxjazz.org/merchandise/the-road-less-traveled-cd

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