For acclaimed jazz big band leader, arranger, composer and saxophonist Ed Palermo, Edgar Winter wasn’t just a gateway drug to jazz. To a youth raised on New Jersey's shore, the music of the Texan multi-instrumental star was a mind-expanding key that unlocked the overlapping realms of blues, jazz and rock. There’s a straight line between Palermo’s teenage immersion in Winter’s music and the emergence decades later of his big band, which has earned international renown for its authentically warped arrangements of Frank Zappa’s music. Palermo has long included Winter material in the band’s wide-ranging book, but his new album on the Sky Cat Records, I’ve Got News For You: The Music of Edgar Winter, is his first dedicated to his early inspiration. Slated for release on Oct. 15, 2021, the album is almost indecently fun, as if someone crossed the New Testament Count Basie Orchestra’s book with a Zappa-designed R&B revue.
With his adventurous spirit and talent-packed big band, Palermo is ideally placed to celebrate a singular artist who, Winter himself acknowledges, “is primarily thought of as a rocker,” known for virtuosic scorchers like “Frankenstein,” an instrumental tune that was “almost a precursor of heavy metal and fusion,” Winter said. “But I also love jazz and classical and if there's one common thread that runs through all my music, it is blues."
Palermo was a budding high school saxophonist with little interest in jazz when he experienced an epiphany listening to the first albums by Beaumont, Texas blues guitarist Johnny Winter, who featured his younger brother Edgar on keyboards, vocals, and most importantly alto sax. “The saxophone playing really blew my mind,” Palermo says. “He’s playing the most killing bebop, fast and smooth. I knew then I wanted to play like that. To this day my main influences are Cannonball, Phil Woods and Edgar Winter, and David Sanborn too.”
The album opens with a blast of boogie, “I Hate Everybody,” a song from Johnny Winter’s 1969 album Second Winter. The track features some stellar work by well-traveled rock guitarist Jimmy Leahey and soul-stirring vocals from Carlos Murguía, a singer best known for his work with an array of Latin music superstars. On “Tobacco Road,” a standout track on Edgar’s 1970 debut album Entrance, Palermo showcases guitar legend Robben Ford and the great Kimberly Davis, whose powerhouse performances throughout the project reveal several different sides of the longtime vocalist for Niles Rodgers’ pioneering disco/rock band Chic.
“The hardest part about this album was figuring out who was going to sing,” Palermo said. “On Entrance, Edgar’s singing is astounding. Me and Steve Jankowski realized we need singers who can make the songs their own. Kim Davis is one of my favorites, and she nailed it.”
Release Date: October 15, 2021
Format: CD / Digital Download
Genre: Blues Big Band, Jazz Big Band, Jazz-Rock / R&B
Label: Sky Cat Records
Catalog no.: SC211001
I’ve Got News For You: The Music of Edgar Winter Track Listing:
1. I Hate Everybody (Johnny Winter) 2:10
2. Tobacco Road (John D. Loudermilk) 4:24
3. Peace Pipe (Edgar Winter) 5:30
4. All Out (Edgar Winter) 3:16
5. A Different Game 4:01
6. Dyin' to Live (Edgar Winter) 3:56
7. Jump Right Out 4:03
8. Entrance 3:46
9. Where Have You Gone 2:39
10. Rise to Fall 3:35
11. Fire and Ice 7:02
12. Hung Up 3:40
13. Back in the Blues (Edgar Winter) 2:27
14. Re-Entrance 2:30
15. You Are My Sunshine (Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell) 1:52
16. I've Got News For You (Roy Alfred) 3:46
All songs written by Edgar and Johnny Winter except where noted.