Right out of the gate, the Monk-esque melody of the opening track, “Hubub” gets your attention. The rhythm section is poppin’ and swingin’ with truly great solos!
“Wandelen” is a beautiful gospel tune that gives all the players a lot of room to testify. “Sparkplug – She Came to Play” starts with some truly virtuosic solo piano maneuvers by Ted. The track seems entirely improvised – that is, until after all the solos are done. It is then you hear the wizardry of Ted Kooshian’s arranging… “Schiermonnikoog” starts with a compelling drum solo, followed by an intriguing blues head arranged brilliantly for the two… “Tornetto” is an up-tempo swinger that reminds one of the freer stuff that the Miles Davis Quintet… “Hymn For Her” is a beautiful ballad with lovely lyrics by Judy Barnett. “Desert Island Tracks” is the album’s sole Latin piece. The rhythm section is totally in the groove. The introduction to “Space Train” increases in speed as Greg plays his brushes on the snare under an interesting two-part horn melody, evoking an image of a train speeding down the rails. “McQueen” is one of the most angular pieces on this album. The interplay between the bass/ electric piano line and the violin/sax melody is truly mesmerizing. And finally, “Shatner” is in 5/4 and is comprised of a gorgeous set of chord changes and a flowing unison melody. The synth solo uses a sound patch seemingly right out of the Star Trek theme song. Brilliant!
Ted Kooshian – piano
John Bailey – trumpet (flugelhorn on Somewhere)
Jeff Lederer – tenor saxophone
Dick Sarpola – bass (electric bass on McQueen and Shatner)
Greg Joseph – drums
Jim Mola – vocal on Hymn For Her; Katie Jacoby – violin on Hymn For Her and McQueen; Summer Boggess – cello on Hymn For Her; David Silliman – percussion on McQueen and Shatner
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT THE HUBUB! IS ALL ABOUT: FUN
I just returned from the 2022 Monerey Jazz Festival, and as you can guess the players were magnificent. Not so the compositions, though. Highly experimental is great; after all, that’s what makes jazz, well, jazz. But much of the weekend was fusion, ya know jazz harmony and improvisation with rock music, funk, and rhythm, but so repetitive and melodically abstruse. When vocalist Samara Joy hit the stage, the 22-year-old had throngs magnetized to the stage with appealing tunes, charm and downright fun.
I mention this because I just took pianist-composer Ted Kooshian‘s fifth album, Hubub! for a spin, and felt uplifted for all eleven tracks. Available October 7, 2022 via Summit Records, the album features Kooshian with trumpeter John Bailey, saxophonist Jeff Lederer, bassist Dick Sarpola and drummer Greg Joseph. It’s his first album of mainly original music since his acclaimed 2004 debut…
Normally, along with original compositions, Kooshian takes themes from his past and puts them the sausage grinder of his polychromatic soul, coming up with flavorful arrangements with his combo. And the results are always delightful. Here, we get one standard (a bouncy arrangement of Bernstein’s “Somewhere” from West Side Story) along with an all-original collection: interpretations of a few memorable characters (the funky “McQueen” is a tribute to the action star; the spacy “Shatner” is an ode to the star of his favorite show, the original Star Trek — both feature percussionist David Silliman); “Tornetto” — a portmanteau of “tornado” and “Ornette” — is definitely a whirlwind tribute to the great originator, played with kickin’ enthusiasm by saxophonist Lederer; the dreamy song “Hymn for Her” (co-written by Kooshian and Judy Barnett) features the dreamy 40s-style vocals of Jim Mola (and for this track, we get guests Katie Jacoby on violin and Summer Boggess on cello); and more. I’ll say it again: Appealing, inventive tunes and downright fun. What more could you ask?
-Stage and Cinema
Pianist Ted Kooshian swings hard and joyfully with a core mainstream team of John Bailey/tp=fh, Jeff Lederer/ts, Dick Sarpola/b and Greg Joseph/dr. The tenor/trumpet from line is right from the Blue Note School of hard bop, with Bailey’s warm horn gliding over the tide of the title tune, while his flugelhorn is fluffy on the autumnal “Somewhere”. Lederer has big and beefy tone, having a hoot of a time around Kooshian’s clever chords on the kinetically Monkish “Sparkplug-She Came To Play” and getting down over the military riff laid down by Joseph on “Schiermonnikoog”. Kooshian shows rich ideas on the pen, plugging in on a funkified Bullitt-themed “McQueen” and going to where no man has gone before in an intergalactic “Shatner”, while the rhythm team takes a Caribbean cruise on “Desert Island Tracks”. Rich textures are proved by a string section and Jim Mola’s voice on a lovely “Hymn For Her”, with other delicate ideas hovering on “Space Train”. A modern jazz messenger.
Ted Kooshian, piano/electric keyboards/composer/arranger; Greg Joseph, drums; Dick Sarpola, double bass/elec. Bass; David Silliman, percussion; Jeff Lederer, tenor saxophone; John Bailey, trumpet; Katie Jacoby, violin; Summer Boggess, cello; Jim Mola, vocals.
Ted Kooshian is a pianist who grew up in the Bay Area of California and was greatly influenced by his band director in junior high school.
“In the seventh grade there was a new, young band director at our junior high school, who wanted t6o start a jazz band. He played an Oscar Peterson record for me and it completely turned me around. I immediately thought, man this is what I want to do!” Kooshian recalls.
Surrounded by his longtime friends and musical colleagues, Ted Kooshian opens with an original composition that he wrote back in 1992. The title tune, “Hubub!” struts onto the scene, swinging hard and introducing the listeners to each musician as they step forward to solo, beginning with John Bailey on a spirited trumpet solo. Jeff Lederer on tenor saxophone steps up to the microphone next. Jeff and Ted Kooshian are longtime buddies and Lederer has appeared on every one of Kooshian’s recordings. Next coms Kooshian, tickling the 88 keys and keeping the ‘swing’ alive and in your face. Dick Sarpola is a sensitive bassist who pumps his solo out of the double bass, spreading joy sweet as jam. Then comes Greg Joseph on trap drums, trading bars with the band members and showing off his skills. Ted Kooshian has composed all the music, with the exception of the familiar tune, “Somewhere.” He has contracted violinist Katie Jacoby who is a member of the Ed Palermo Big Band, which is a band Kooshian has been a primary member of for nearly thirty years. But jazz is not his only choice of music. Ted Kooshian has toured with rock icons, ‘The Who’ and has worked with Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Marvin Hamlisch, Edgar Winter, Sarah Brightman and II Divo. His musical sensibilities and reading skills have landed him in several Broadway orchestra pits including Mamma Mia, The Lion King, Aida, Come Fly Away, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Spamalot. Seemingly a musician for all times, this album celebrates his composer talents, as well as his piano skills.
-LA Jazz Scene
New York pianist and keyboardist Ted Kooshian continues his love affair with classic TV, cartoon themes and the pop scene, on Hubub!, offering a selection of striking originals influenced by his “enthusiastic love for pop culture,” which includes tributes to actors Steve McQueen and William Shatner of Star Trek fame. The album’s sole standard is Leonard Bernstein’s classic “Somewhere” from the West Side Story play, distinguishing this version from so many others with an atypically jaunty arrangement from the pianist.
To better understand and appreciate the music on this remarkable album, one should know that though now based in New York City, Kooshian was born in San Jose, California, and was raised in the Bay Area. where he was exposed to all of the cultural and musical influences that have formed and impacted the creative style of jazz he produces. Perhaps this is one of the reasons he is so unique.
Kooshian assembles a group of long-time collaborators, all seasoned musicians with whom he has worked on previous projects. The cast features trumpeter John Bailey, bassist Dick Sarpola, tenor saxophonist Jeff Lederer—who has appeared on all of Kooshian’s recordings—drummer Greg Joseph and percussionist Dave Silliman.
The title track, penned in 1992, starts the music rolling with a little help from his friends, Lederer and trumpeter Bailey on spritely solos as the funky, high-spirited piece kicks the music into high gear. In contrast to the opener, “Wandelen,” which translates to “walking” in Dutch, it is a more laid-back and gentle tune bringing back memories of several Dutch Islands. One of the North Sea Islands Kooshian and wife visited was “Schiemonnikoog,” which inspired the pianist’s piece of the same name, offering a bluesy-flavored rollicking burner.
Holding down the soft spot on the set is the gorgeous “Hymn for Her,” a love ballad with vocals from Jim Mola accompanied byKatie Jacoby on the violin and the leader on warm keys. A tune with perhaps the best melody of the session is “Desert Island Tracks” featuring bold solo moments from the saxophonist, sturdy drumming and superb piano work in a bid from the leader in hoping that this track, would be on someone’s desert island picks.
“Space Train” lifts the music up into terrain Kooshian has previously explored with his cosmic Standard Orbit Quartet and features some of the best solo excursions from tenor man Lederer. The leader’s homage to actor Steve McQueen follows, with “McQueen,” much in the same texture as “Space Train” but, not as spacy as the finale tribute to the Star Trekactor “Shatner,” where Kooshian plays the electric piano to help this atmospheric piece of stellar music become one of the highlights of the album.
Pianist Ted Kooshian’s talents as a composer are on display here where he crafts another “commotion” of an album, another “excitement” of a session in successfully engineering a call answering the question, what’s all the Hubub! about? The answer: it’s “all about jazz” in a unique vehicle that only Kooshian knows how to drive.
-ALL ABOUT JAZZ
Ted Kooshian, piano/electric keyboard/arranger/composer; Greg Joseph, drums; Dick Sarpola, bass/elec. Bass; David Silliman, percussion; Katie Jacoby, violin; Summer Boggess, cello; John Bailey, trumpet/flugelhorn; Jeff Lederer, tenor saxophone; Jim Mola, vocals.
Ted Kooshian’s fingers skip across the piano and awaken the glee and joy of this holiday season. It’s his fifth album and the first one that showcases Kooshian’s composer talents. Every tune is spirited, with horn harmonies woven into arrangements like crochet needles into yarn. The final product is rich, creative and warm like a Christmas sweater. Ted Kooshian started loving jazz in the seventh grade. He grew up in the Bay area of Northern California and after hearing his band director play an Oscar Peterson record, Ted was hooked on jazz.
“Man, that’s what I want to do!” Ted Kooshian affirmed and never looked back.
His original compositions traces chapters of his life. For example, “Sparkplug – She Came to Play” is a tribute to his beloved eleven-year-old dog. Ted’s piano fingers race, as if they are chasing the ball that his dog is sprinting after. There are dissonant chords, mainly during the introduction, that remind me of the canine tumbling and falling happily in tall grass.
The title track was written in 1992, upon Ted’s return to the bustling lifestyle of New York City and leaping into the “hubbub” of it all. “Wandelen” translates from Dutch to ‘walking,’ a pastime that Ted Kooshian enjoys daily. Trumpeter John Bailey” takes a hearty solo during this animated arrangement, as does Jeff Lederer on tenor saxophone. The only song on this album that isn’t an original is the familiar “Somewhere” composition by Leonard Bernstein. “Schiermonnikoog” is a mouthful and the title of a song inspired by the smallest Dutch North Sea island,a place he and his wife visited when vacationing in that part of the world.
Ted Kooshian has been blending his love of music and jazz as a member of the Ed Palermo Big Band for nearly thirty years and explores his love of rock music when touring with groups like, ‘The Who’. You will hear this rock influence during his original composition arrangement of “McQueen.” This song exposes his love of action heroes as does the tune “Shatner” that’s an ode to one of Kooshian’s lifelong heroes, William Shatner, from the original Star Trek show.
“I’m a huge fan and have been since the sixties,” Kooshian admits. “I saw his show on Broadway twice and saw him at a Star Trek convention once. Hopefully he’ll like this tune that I dedicated to him.”
Ted Kooshian’s talented piano hands have accompanied numerous super stars including Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, Edgar Winter, Marvin Hamlisch, Sarah Brightman, Blood, Sweat & Tears and II Divo. He’s also found work on Broadway, playing behind such outstanding hit shows as The Lion Kind, Aida, Mamma Mia and more. If you’re in New York any time soon, you’ll find him perched behind the grand piano five nights a week at Center Bar, one floor below Jazz at Lincoln Center in the Time/Warner Building.