Stunning multi-generational vocal summit, featuring jazz vocal legends Mark Murphy, Bob Dorough, Jon Hendricks, Sheila Jordan and Annie Ross, brings vocalese into the present while honoring its rich past
The Royal Bopsters Project is a singular recording with a one-two vocal jazz punch. It simultaneously introduces a powerful new vocal jazz quartet – Amy London, Darmon Meader, Dylan Pramuk & Holli Ross – while it serves as a stellar vehicle to honor five of the most influential jazz vocalese legends of all time: Mark Murphy, Bob Dorough, Jon Hendricks, Sheila Jordan, and Annie Ross. This epic and historic release is co-produced by Motema artist Amy London with vocalist/arranger Darmon Meader, the founder, tenor and key arranger of the famed New York Voices. Street date for The Royal Bopsters Project is September 4th and it will be supported by a week-long series of concerts, with performances by various permutations of its ‘royal bopster’ featured singers from September 15th through 19th at Birdland in New York City. (Sadly royal bopster Mark Murphy, who sings on four tracks on this record, is not well enough to perform – but hopefully he may be well enough to come and cheer from the sidelines for some of the shows.)
Four years in the making, The Royal Bopsters Project was initially conceived by producer/vocalist/arranger Amy London as a twilight years feature for her musical hero and close friend Mark Murphy, who she cites as a key influence, (as do scores of other successful jazz singers.) One by one, the other ‘royal bopsters’ signed on for the project at London’s behest. ” I can’t believe my luck to have all of my vocal jazz heroes on this one recording,” says London, a jazz vocal hero herself at this point, having helped to found the prestigious New School Jazz Vocal program, one of the first and most respected such programs in the country, out of which many top young vocalists have emerged. “I wanted to honor these elders and bring their music to a new generation who may not be aware of their importance to this music.”
The repertoire on The Royal Bopsters Project spans three generations of swinging song writing, brought into the present day by additional lyrics from various members of the ensemble, and by inventive arrangements primarily by Meader and Pramuk. The 1940’s are represented by a swinging quartet version of Annie Ross and David Ball’s “Let’s Fly,” (with London in the lead), as well as by Charlie Parker’s “Chasin’ the Bird”, updated here to “Bird Chasin'” – both tracks featuring fresh lyrics by London. On “Bird Chasin’,” Murphy reanimates the beat generation with an energetic reading from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Tribute is paid to the 1950s with such standards as Bronislaw Kaper’s “Invitation” and Horace Silver’s “Senor Blues,” as well as the quartet’s creative new rendition of “Basheer’s Dream” by Gigi Gryce. The 1960s represent via Bob Dorough’s “Nothing Like You,” and a vocalese version of Roger Kellaway’s “Step Right Up,” for which Holli Ross wrote new lyrics. Penned in the 1970s is Murphy’s vocalese version of Freddie Hubbard’s bop-funk classic, “Red Clay.” Murphy’s lyrics first appeared on his 1975 Muse album Mark Murphy Sings, and appear again here with a vigorous and fresh new take. Another Muse release, 1981’s Bop for Kerouac, which many consider to be Murphy’s greatest recording, featured Murphy’s vocalese take on Miles Davis’ “Boplicity;” here the royal bopsters harmonically propel this classic into the new century, with new lyrics again contributed by Hollis Ross. Noted jazz author James Gavin provides the liner notes.
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