Ken Schaphorst

How To Say Goodbye
(JCA Recordings)

We’ve all had our fair share of goodbyes, and if these moments were meaningful, we mulled over how and what we would say or do. Composer and jazz educator Ken Schaphorst, head of jazz studies at the New England Conservatory in Boston, has done a lot of that thinking for us. His latest album is a heartfelt statement that will not soon be forgotten: Say hello to How To Say Goodbye.

For this special project, Schaphorst assembled a 19-piece big band from former students and mentees to play 10 of his compositions. The result is exhilarating.

On the title track, John Carlson’s virtuosic trumpet and a powerhouse closing statement by drummer Matt Wilson provide a glimpse of the excitement that is to come. Later, the superb tenorman Donny McCaslin’s top-of-the-register solo is matched nicely by the soft backing of the band. Trombonist Curtis Hasselbring follows Schaphorst’s delicate Fender Rhodes intro with a solo that begins gently and gradually builds to a crescendo, and McCaslin follows with another boiler.

This intriguing album even provides a taste of a dance-band feel with “Green City,” Schaphorst’s nod to Boston. Chris Cheek’s’ gently swinging, highly melodic tenor work could fill the dance floor.

The band seems always to have a perfect blend of instruments that provides the just right backing and interaction with soloists. This album is a must for big band fans. DB

On Sale Now
December 2023
Pharoah Sanders
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