Pianist and composer Elmo Hope was on the scene from the mid 1950s into the 1960s. This year, June 27, 2008, would have been Elmo's 85th birthday. Elmo was very close to two forward-thinking musical giants, in fact, he spent so much time with Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell that they were called "The 3 Musketeers." Monk loved Elmo's composing and referred to him as his favorite contemporary composer.
Elmo left us with a body of important original music that he recorded essentially between 1953 and 1963. On Tuesday, December 9, and Wednesday, December 10, the sextet will be performing 4 different sets of Elmo's music, exploring the music chronologically each night. This will give us the opportunity to present at least 24 of Elmo's compositions over the two nights.
Elmo's music is compelling (to the audience) and demanding (to the musicians). As drummer Kenny Washington said at rehearsal, Elmo's music demands all your musicianship to try to play it, but if you spend the time to really try to learn it, the rewards are incredible! For the audience, it's an opportunity to hear Elmo's world through the artistry of today's fine musicians.
It's been a dream of mine for quite a few years to be able to present Elmo's music to contemporary audiences. So on Tuesday, December 9, and Wednesday, December 10, we will be performing Elmo's original compositions. Most will be performed in a sextet context, featuring a horn section of alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon (the 2008 winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition), tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart, and myself, Don Sickler, on trumpet. The rhythm section features the pianist who knows more about Elmo's music than anyone, Bertha Hope, Elmo's widow; bassist John Webber; and drummers Kenny Washington (Tuesday the 9th) and Willie Jones, III (Wednesday the 10th). Special guest pianist Jonny King will perform "La Berthe," one of Elmo's tributes to his wife Bertha, on the second set opening night.
Please join us for an exploration of Hope!
At the Jazz Standard, 116 East 27th Street New York, New York 10016