- D.D. Jackson, pianist/composer
- James Carter, C melody sax and tenor sax (tracks 1 and 3)
- Hugh Ragin, trumpet (tracks 2 and 5)
- Santi Debriano, acoustic bass (track 4)
- Hamiet Bluiett, baritone sax (track 7 and 8)
- Billy Bang, violin (track 9)
- David Murray, tenor sax (track 10)
All compositions by D.D. Jackson (except tracks 2 & 5 by Hugh Ragin)
Produced by D.D. Jackson
Thank-you's and dedication
Thanks firstly to the nine musicians who participated in these two volumes - their enthusiasm for this project and their great artistry helped make this an inspired session of music-making. Special thanks to David Murray for his past support and encouragement. Thanks to Joel and my other NY friends for the "jams" and various "hangs"; my teachers, past and present; Jim West and everyone associated withJustin Time Records; and, as always, my family for their continuous support.
This album is dedicated with love and appreciation to my father, the most positive man I know.
Liner Notes Excerpt(by me):
"A few days after the two volumes of Paired Down were recorded, a "prominent conservative New York-based jazz writer" (who shall remain nameless) walked into the club where I had just finished the final set with violinist Billy Bang’s Quartet, and the first words out of his mouth were: "Hey, Billy - still playing out of tune?" If he had arrived ten minutes earlier, he would have heard one of the most brilliant music makers on the planet at the top of his creative game. In an entirely ad-libbed, "free association" solo, Billy proceeded to call upon all manners of tradition, experience, and just plain "craziness". He evoked the blues. He emitted squeaks and cries and squawks from his instrument one would never have thought possible. And at one particularly inspired moment, he went about the room, using the various "room props" at his disposal - the bar stool, the picture frame, the table - as sound inspiration for his at-the-moment evocation.
So here it was, ten minutes later, and now all this critic could think to ask was a question regarding Billy’s tuning? The only response I could think of was "well, when Billy was tapping the picture frame he might have been a little flat". Clearly someone who had missed the point of Billy’s playing, which isn’t about technical perfection (though he certainly has achieved this, in his own way), or playing "correctly" or "swinging" (though he does these things, and then some, in his own way, as well) according to some stuffy textbook definition of what jazz is and isn’t supposed to be. Billy’s playing is about the spirit of giving your all; the ability to play consistently on the edge, ever-taking chances, dealing with the pain and joy of his own life experience in an often achingly beautiful, or achingly painful way. It is about true inspiration, forged with awareness of tradition and his own past. And in doing all of these things, it is about playing a music that goes beyond simple categorization, playing a music that can only best be described as "Bang Music".
It is this type of forceful, iconoclastic voice that is at the heart of why I wanted to put this album together. In addition to exploring the more "pared down" texture and intimate interaction that inherently occurs in a duo setting, I set out with this project to chose only those players whom I regard as among the absolute top on their instruments in terms of possessing a personal and original voice, just the type of individuality that these same artists lament has been lost in today’s "young lion" jazz age. Often these artists reminisce of a time not too long ago when it was considered an asset to present one’s own sound in, for ex., a New York jam session situation; now they speak of a mood in which performers who do not adhere to a certain "code" or "canon" of what jazz is supposed to be are often frowned upon.
The irony is that the majority of my favorite musicians, including those on this album, have no less respect for the jazz tradition - if anything, these artists are celebrating what I consider to be the true spirit of jazz, in that they are actually building upon what has come before instead of merely trying to imitate it; they are reaching out with an open mind to try and create new forms of expression and to find new sources of inspiration instead of adhering to some narrow jazz definitions; and, ultimately, they are forging their own "Bang Music", a readily identifiable voice, system of expression, and body of work. By doing these things, they are adding to the jazz language as a whole and allowing the music to continue to move forward (which is, after all, the direction I thought the music was supposed to be heading in the first place).
Of course my goal, too, is the establishment of my own personal voice. And if I can, in my work, achieve a fraction of the "Bang Music" that many of the following artists have accomplished, I will consider myself extremely fortunate:
James Carter is a modern jazz phenomenon, and the ease with which he plays his numerous axes is almost frightening. I first heard him in a record store while shopping for CD’s - the opening refrains of his tune "J.C. on the Set" stopped me cold. Here, finally, was someone of my younger generation who was really taking chances, really trying to push boundaries. I followed his career the next couple of years with interest, and was fortunate to finally get the opportunity to play with him at the 1996 Montreal International Jazz Festival, where I appeared as his special guest in a television special taped for Bravo. The tune we performed was - you guessed it - "J.C. on the Set", and it got me thinking about ways of exploring the rhythm changes format further with him, perhaps pushing things more and playing in a more interactive way than was possible within the context of his own group. With this duo session, I got the opportunity, with my own tune "Rhythm and Things", in which he "dusted off" a C Melody sax for the occasion (since the piece was, after all, in the key of C - why make things difficult for yourself when you can play all possible reeds with seemingly equal facility?), as well as a ballad I wrote entitled "Reflections".
Hugh Ragin is one of the world’s great jazz trumpet players - a true unsung hero who has quietly managed to achieve a wonderful conceptual pairing of a pure, listenable classical tone with a true cutting edge, adventurous spirit. He has toured and recorded with Maynard Ferguson, Roscoe Mitchell..."