PHIL BROWN & the New Arts Jazztet has long been regarded as southern Illinois' premier jazz group, regularly presenting a select repertoire—engaging original works as well as choice standards—forged in the energy of hard bop and the eclecticism of contemporary jazz. With its hip, approachable character and sound, the cross-generational group—saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass and drums—convincingly helps to sustain jazz into the 21st Century.
Arkadia (a caldera productions, 2014), the new release by NAJ bassist, Phil Brown, again features the band. The group enjoyed considerable nationwide radio airplay and attention on Brown's previous recording, Bright Side (a caldera productions, 2009). And the New Arts Jazztet, along with the duo, FourOnSix, was also featured on Brown's Darkness Into Light (a caldera productions, 2006).
The NAJ is in residence at Southern Illinois University, where all but one of its members are School of Music faculty. Its current line-up is Dick Kelley, reeds; Bob Allison, trumpet/flugelhorn; Tim Pitchford, trombone; Mel Goot, piano; Phil Brown, bass; and Ron Coulter, drums. Annually, for one week in June, New Arts Jazztet members staff a jazz improvisation camp at SIU. Each fall, the group presents a formal concert of jazz standards, and each spring, a formal concert of original music. The NAJ is also a headline ensemble at the Southern Illinois Music Festival each summer.
Arkadia is derived from Αρκαδ?α, the name of the Greek province on Peloponnesos, which dates to antiquity. In Greek mythology, it is the home of the god, Pan. Since the Renaissance, Arkadia has referred to an idyllic artistic vision or literary notion of pastoralism and consonance with nature. In this context, the term suggests unspoiled wilderness, bountiful natural splendor, and perfect harmony [not infrequently populated by shepherds]. The title work, “Arkadia,” is a reflection on this spirit. “Neil’s Notion” is a straightahead tune written to honor one of my jazz education mentors, Neil Slater. My cousin, the fiction writer, Lucia Berlin, had alluring “Amethyst Eyes,” and this jequibau is written in her memory. “Demage” [pronounced de-MAH-jay] is a jazz/rock homage to an endearing young boy randomly encountered in Cairo, Illinois. A classic “Habañera” is here given a contemporary setting. The vexation of being extorted is the underlying thrust of the burner, “Shakedown.” “In Black” is a lament for the tragedy of September 11, 2001. The chant, “And the People Said…,” is intended to induce foot-tapping. “Saudade” [pronounced sow-DAH-jee] is a Brazilian-flavored work that suitably finds balance between wistful and hopeful. “P.W.R.C.” [for Phil’s Wicked Rhythm Changes] is the alternate title of “Changes We Can Believe In,” based on the classic jazz form, rhythm changes, albeit with a limp. The final tune, “Where Beauty Lies,” is a meditation on perception.
The listener will note that tracks 6 and 11 use three horns, but no piano—only bass and drums. Tracks 1, 4, 7, 8, and 10 have three horns, plus piano, bass, and drums. For tracks 5 and 9, it’s the same group, but with a string section. Then tracks 2 and 3 use only two horns [no trombone], and rhythm section.
PHIL BROWN and the New Arts Jazztet Dick Kelley, reeds; Bob Allison, trumpet and flugelhorn; Tim Pitchford, trombone; Mel Goot, piano; Phil Brown, bass; and Ron Coulter, drums and percussion
Arkadia was digitally recorded June 30 through July 3, 2012, at Altgeld Digital, Carbondale, Illinois, using Pro Tools® 7.3.1. It was mixed at the same facility at a later date.
produced by: Phil Brown
recorded by: Kelly Caringer
mixed by: Jim Massoth
mastered by: Danny Leake, Urban Guerrilla Engineers, Chicago, Illinois
graphics by: Corey Tester
Soli Deo gloria. Sincere thanks go to my New Arts Jazztet collaborators—Dick, Bob, Tim, Mel, and Ron: Your talents masterfully elevate these compositions and this recording. I am also grateful to my string colleagues—Michael, Victoria, Jacob, and Eric—for your superb artistry. Jim: Your wizardry and musical sensibility at the console make an undeniable difference. To the rest of the creative team—Kelly, Danny, and Corey: Please know how much I respect and appreciate your consummate skills. A special thank you to Brian Wagner, facility manager; Henry Nicolaides, piano technician; and the Southern Illinois University School of Music for the use of facilities. And finally to dearest Pamela, for your unfailing love, patience, and support: My heart.
DICK KELLEY joined the New Arts Jazztet in 2008, and is currently Assistant Professor of Saxophone, and Director of Jazz Studies at Southern Illinois University. Dr. Kelley has performed with Jon Faddis, Dick Oatts, Stefon Harris, the Cab Calloway Orchestra, Bob Mintzer, Wycliffe Gordon, Jim Pugh, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Bobby Shew and Kenny Werner, among others. Additionally, he has toured extensively with Patti Page, Marie Osmond, and the Motown Soul Review. As well as performing with the New Arts Jazztet at the inaugural Jazz Education Network Conference, Dr. Kelley has performed or presented at several conferences of the International Association of Jazz Educators.
BOB ALLISON is Associate Professor of Trumpet and Jazz Studies at Southern Illinois University. Dr. Allison is a founding member of the New Arts Jazztet, which formed in 1984. He has performed with numerous jazz artists, including James Williams, Cal Thomas, Willie Thomas, and Stanley Clarke.
TIM PITCHFORD, formerly of SIU, is now Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies and Trombone at Illinois Wesleyan University. Dr. Pitchford has performed with Joe Williams, Maureen McGovern, Arturo Sandoval, Gloria Gaynor, The Manhattan Transfer, John Pizzarelli, Patti Austin, Byron Stripling, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, the Woody Herman Orchestra, and many others. He has recorded on several Grammy- and Latin Grammy-nominated albums and numerous independent and commercial recordings.
MEL GOOT joined the New Arts Jazztet in 1995. He has performed with artists such as Charles McPherson, Nathan East, Daniel Jackson, Luis Gasca, Cal Tjader, Poncho Sanchez, John Heard, Carol Kaye, Kevyn Lettau, Peter Sprague, Jaime Valle, Abraham Laboriel, Bobby Shew, and Dave Valentin.
PHIL BROWN earned his graduate degree in music education at North Texas State University, where he was a member of NTSU's highly acclaimed jazz ensemble, the One O'Clock Lab Band. His undergraduate degree in composition was completed at Northwestern University. Brown's bass teachers have included Lawrence Hurst, Ringwalt Warner, Evan Tonsing, Warren Benfield and Edward Rainbow. He studied composition with M. William Karlins and with Luciano Berio.
Brown’s recent writing efforts have produced almost 50 originals for the NAJ. In 2003, the Illinois Arts Council honored him for his work and commitment within the arts with an Artist Fellowship Award in music composition. He has released four recordings as leader, and appears on a number of other recordings, including the compact discs that accompany the 2-volume Jazz Tunes For Improvisation, by Dan Haerle, Jack Petersen and Rich Matteson.
Notable among the many jazz artists with whom Brown has collaborated are Pepper Adams, Lockjaw Davis, Herb Ellis, Steve Gadd, Red Garland, Dizzy Gillespie, Tom Harrell, Delfeayo Marsalis, Mark Murphy, and Clark Terry. A native of Amarillo, Texas, he is currently Professor of Double Bass and Jazz Studies at Southern Illinois University. He joined the New Arts Jazztet in 1991.
Brown has also served as guest artist, clinician, and adjudicator at any number of national and area jazz competitions, camps, and festivals, most recently the University of Louisville Jazz Week.
RON COULTER, formerly of SIU, is now Instructor of Percussion, Improvisation, and World Music Studies at Casper College. He has performed with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Harry James Orchestra, Sean Jones, Keith Javors, Marvin Stamm, Joanne Brackeen, Maria Schneider, and Chuck Mangione, among many others.
As a professional jazz musician and educator, Phil Brown has no shortage of credits. He presently is based in southern Illinois where he also is active as a free-lance bassist.
Since 1991, Brown has been Associate Professor of Jazz Studies and Double Bass, as well as Coordinator of Music Business, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He performs regularly with the New Arts Jazztet (NAJ), whose growing reputation has placed the group at schools and prime jazz venues throughout the Midwest. The NAJ with Phil Brown performed as part of a live statewide television broadcast, Arts Across Illinois: Center Stage (2004), at WTTW/Channel 11, Chicago. The group is featured along with FourOnSix on Phil Brown’s latest recording, Darkness Into Light (Carbondale: a caldera productions, 2006). The New Arts Jazztet is featured on Brown's forthcoming CD, Bright Side (Carbondale: a caldera productions, 2009). Brown has fronted his own studio group as well, introduced on the release, Hope Street Saunter (Carbondale: a caldera productions, 2003) with the Phil Brown Quartet, featuring guitarist Fareed Haque, pianist Bradley Williams, and drummer Tom Hipskind. He also can be heard on the compact discs that accompany the two-volume Jazz Tunes For Improvisation by Dan Haerle, Jack Petersen and Rich Matteson (Miami: Warner Bros., 1983, 1997), with the North Texas State University Faculty Jazz Group, and on a number of other recordings.
Notable among the many other jazz artists with whom Brown has performed are Pepper Adams, Lockjaw Davis, Herb Ellis, Steve Gadd, Red Garland, Dizzy Gillespie, Tom Harrell, Delfeayo Marsalis, Mark Murphy, and Clark Terry.
Brown received a Master of Music Education degree with an emphasis in jazz studies from North Texas State University. There, as a graduate teaching fellow, he was an instructor of both jazz ensemble and double bass. He also was a member of NTSU's highly acclaimed jazz ensemble, the One O'Clock Lab Band. Brown's undergraduate work was completed at Northwestern University, where he received a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition.
As a jazz educator, Brown has served as a clinician and adjudicator at a number of jazz camps and festivals, including the Fiesta Jazz Festival, the Longhorn Jazz Festival, the Southern Illinois Jazz Festival, the Wichita Jazz Festival, and most recently, the University of Louisville’s Jazz Week.
For several years, Brown was staff arranger for the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, writing a number of pop arrangements for orchestra with rhythm section. These selections have been performed by the Jacksonville, the Louisville, the Hartford, and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestras, among others. His more recent writing efforts have produced almost 3 dozen originals for the New Arts Jazztet. In 2003, the Illinois Arts Council honored Brown for his work and commitment within the arts with an Artist Fellowship Award in music composition.
Brown’s bass teachers have included Lawrence Hurst, Ringwalt Warner, Evan Tonsing, Warren Benfield and Edward Rainbow. He studied composition with M. William Karlins and Luciano Berio. Brown is a native of Amarillo, Texas.