Dave Liebman, Andy Gonzalez, & more on the songs they love

Andy Gonzalez

News | Sep, 13th 2016

A major theme at this year's Coca-Cola Generations in Jazz Festival—which is currently in full swing at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola—is how to best spread the lessons that performers learned from their masters. With that in mind, we asked some of the musicians on the festival's bill to tell us about the songs that taught them important lessons. Listen to a playlist of their selections and read their thoughts on how their favorite artists have inspired their music below.

Andy Gonzalez

Andy Gonzales performs Sep. 15

As for a song that influenced Andy early in his career, it was very difficult for him to pick just one. Instead, he mentioned another bass player that was a tremendous influence on his playing: Israel López Valdés, better known as Cachao. Cachao's LP from 1957 titled Cuban Jam Sessions in Miniatureleft an indelible impression on Andy, and in fact that LP was the inspiration for Andy's CD, Entre Colegas.Andy had a number of opportunities to play alongside his mentor; one of the occasions was at the Rose Theater back in January of 2006, as part of a two-night performance entitled "¡Bajo! - The Great Tradition Of The Latin Bass."

Ryan Keberle

Ryan Keberle's Big Band Living Legacy Project performs Sep. 26

"I've always said that you know a record is important when you consistently return to it year after year, month after month, even as your musical tastes and listening skills evolve. That's certainly the case for me when it comes to listening and learning from Count Basie's Chairman of the Board.I've been listening to this record on a regular basis for over 12 years and it continues to move me in emotional and cerebral ways. I first heard about this record when I was 21 years old while studying composition and arranging with the great big band composer and scholar David Berger at the Juilliard School. Having grown up listening to the Basie Band (my dad is a jazz professor), I was already a fan of traditional big band music and specifically Basie's music, but Chairman of the Board really grabbed my attention in a different way. Over time I've come to realize that, generally speaking, what makes the record so great is the combination of super-swinging musicians, all of whom are masters of the big band language and tradition, combined with the incredibly adventurous and modern charts of Thad Jones, Ernie Wilkins, Frank Foster, and Frank Wess. I consider "Blues in Hoss Flat" to be one of the top 10 all-time big band charts. The audio quality of the recording is, for me, a benchmark of the perfectly recorded big band sound. It’s live but present, big and loud yet subtle, and perfectly balanced. And, finally, I LOVE Thad Jones's early big band writing for the Basie band. His charts "H.R.H.," "Speaking of Sounds," and "The Deacon" still blow my mind. They are so hip and primarily written over the basic 12 bar blues!"

E.J. Strickland

The E.J. Strickland Quintet and E.J. Strickland's Transient Beings perform Sep. 20

"A song that influenced my early on in my career is a Duke Pearson composition titled "You Know I Care." My favorite version of it is performed by Joe Henderson on his album Inner Urge. I chose this song because it is definitely my favorite jazz ballad of all time. It is a simple, beautiful, and catchy melody all at the same time. The harmonies that Duke chose to color the melody are absolutely the best possible choices he could've made and they help the tune move and sway in a way that adds "drama" to the "scenery." I've heard Duke's original version on his album Sweet Honey Bee, but with a ten-piece band it's not as easy to phrase the melody as freely and lyrically as Joe did on Inner Urge. That's why I chose that particular version—there's so much honesty and freedom in the performance."

Dave Liebman

Dave Liebman and Expansions performed previously

"Crescentby John Coltrane on Impulse: the perfect balance between passion and logic with impeccable execution by the entire group."

Theo Croker

The Theo Croker Acoustic Quartet performed previously

"Dizzys Gillespie's sound and rhythm have always fascinated me. His ability to bolt out of nowhere through seemingly endless registers and timbres brings excitement to any musical situation. A true master." Theo suggests checking out "Prelude" from the album Gillespiana.

Sharel Cassity

Sharel Cassity's Elektra performed previously

"A song that influenced me early in my career is "This Here" by Bobby Timmons as performed live by Cannonball Adderley."

Emmet Cohen

Emmet Cohen performs Late Night Sessions from Sept. 27 through Oct. 1

"When Tatum walked into a club where Fats Waller was playing, Fats stopped and said, "Ladies and gentleman, God is in the house." Tatum's technique, originality, imagination, and musicality inspired me at an early age to want to play jazz piano. I listen to him often, still, and am in complete awe!" Emmet recommends "Dardanella" off The Complete Capitol Recordings, Vol. 1.

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