Johnny Pate 80th Birthday Celebration
Guest artists: Monty Alexander, piano; Kenny Burrell, guitar; Ron Carter, bass; Shirley Horn, piano & vocals; Harvey Mason, drums; James Moody, flute & tenor saxophone; Marlena Shaw, vocals; and Phil Woods, alto saxophone with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Jazz Ensemble, Dave Loeb & Bruce Paulson, co-directors, and Johnny Pate, arranger/composer/conductor
A gala 80th birthday celebration was held for Johnny Pate on Sunday, March 30, 2003 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with an all-star group of jazz soloists whose careers were touched by Pate's great musical and producing talents, and generous personality. The concert played to an SRO audience whose enthusiasm drew some awe-inspiring performances from the solo artists. The exuberant solos of Moody and Woods, and Shaw's effervescent vocal to the thought-provoking ballads by Alexander and Horn, and, not least, the elegance of Carter and Burrell were all driven by the magnificent drumming of Mason. Dave Loeb, well-known LA studio musician and composer, and Bruce Paulson, 21-year veteran of Doc Severinsen's Tonight Show band, prepared and rehearsed the UNLV Jazz Ensemble, which provided a stellar accompaniment for the guest artists.
Pate's knack for writing moving ballads was underscored by the moving performances that were given by the soloists, beginning with Phil Woods's rendition of Carolyn, which is dedicated to Johnny's wife. Woods simply soars through the chart! Feeling greatly indebted to Johnny for his triumphant return to the U.S. from Europe in XXXX, Phil literally pours his heart out. No less intriguing is Monty Alexander's unaccompanied solo piano on the Pate ballad Lauren, dedicated to Johnny's granddaughter. Amazingly, Monty worked this solo out in his head during a walk on the day preceding the concert. On the second half of the concert, James Moody's haunting flute explores a medley of two more Pate ballads: Yvonne and Why Don't You Try. Yvonne, Johnny's daughter, is not only the namesake of this ballad, but of Pate's publishing company as well. Someone You've Loved literally brought the house down! Shirley Horn's graceful approach to this ballad had the audience mesmerized. Her sense of timing and understated delivery draws the listener in and gives the audience space to ponder the meaning of the lyrics.
A master of the blues, as well as ballads, Pate's Moof's Blues gets the second half of the concert off to a swinging start, and Ron Carter gives a lesson in solo bass playing on Sum Serious Blues. Harvey Mason stretches out on Shaft in Africa with a solo that builds throughout, leading the band to a powerful ending. Alexander outdoes himself on Pate's tune dedicated to him, My Man Monty. Woods and Moody romp and push one another to greater heights on Minor Detail, Got to Swing, Shaft in Africa and Kudos for Ken. Some of the best laughs of the day are produced by Marlena Shaw in her introduction to I Was a Fool, with the mood suddenly shifting on the opening verse, beautifully accompanied by Kenny Burrell's guitar. His solo on this, as well as his solos on Chateau Bellevue and Kudos for Ken, is quintessential Burrell, demonstrating why he continues to be one of the top jazz guitarists.
2. Moof's Blues
3. Governor's Proclamation
4. Minor Detail
5. Phil Woods Introduction
7. Fill the Woods
8. Monty Alexander Introduction
10. Ron Carter Introduction
11. Sum Serious Blues
12. My Man Monty
13. Marlena Shaw Introduction
14. I Was a Fool
15. Got to Swing
2. Cinco Quatro
3. Johny Pate Reintroduction & Dave Loeb & Kenny Burrell Intros
4. Chateau Bellevue
5. James Moody Introduction
6. Medley: Yvonne & Why Don't You Try
7. Shirley Horn Introduction
8. Yes, I Know When
9. Someone You've Loved
10. Rather Laid Back
11. Harvey Mason Introduction
12. Shaft in Africa
13. Kudos for Ken
All music composed, arranged and conducted by Johnny Pate, except where otherwise indicated.
All songs published by Yvonne Publishers-BMI, except Shaft in Africa, published by Hastings Music-BMI.
James Moody appears courtesy of Savoy Records.
Note: As with all celebratory concerts, there is much dialogue. TNC Jazz, in recognition that many listeners may wish to hear the music without all of the interceding introductions and commentary, has very carefully indexed the tracks of these two CDs so that it is possible to skip the majority of the talk.
This recording is an historical release of the UNLV Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center.