“We are concerned with the future through the past.” Mel Lewis used those words to summarize his vision for the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra (previously the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, now the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra), and their 1983 record Make Me Smile & Other New Works by Bob Brookmeyer. The title of our record An Eye on the Future alludes to Lewis’s quote. This sentiment summarizes the mission statement of our band and the music contained here: we celebrate creativity and innovation while also remembering our roots in the jazz tradition.
One of the ways we are able to maintain our roots in jazz is by standing on the shoulders of some of the great jazz arrangers of all time. Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Thad Jones, Bob Brookmeyer, and Jim McNeely have all had a profound influence on this music. We hope that this tradition can be heard alongside our own voice.
This project also celebrates the voice of one of today’s most important saxophonists, Rich Perry. Rich is perhaps best known for his work in the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, but he has also been a longstanding member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, and is one of the most prolific soloists in the last three decades. In my opinion, Rich Perry is one of the most expressive saxophone soloists of our time. In writing for Rich, I wanted to showcase his distinctive voice while also giving him and the band the opportunity to interact in new and interesting ways. The result was five saxophone concertos, each showcasing a different aspect of both Rich’s playing and the band. The last two tracks feature the band exclusively.