Sunday, October 2, 2011

Musicians on Musicians#2: Kevin McMahon and 5 tenor

I met Kevin McMahon, an Irish tenor saxophonist, last winter. His is capable of executing beautiful, and slow-talking phrases on his instrument. He can do mournful treatments of ballads, and at the same time he can be aggressive, when playing bop standards is concerned. He is developing a huge and edgy sound and love to play with chord sequences that can move listeners, instantly. No need to say, he was heavily influenced by his idol, Mr Dexter Gordon, and he was calling his project of playing Dexter's composition with his quartet, "Dexterritory".

His quartet was consists of Shura Greenberg, an inspiring bass player, Steve Ashworth, a pianist who loves Cedar Walton, and Matt Fishwick on drums (though drummer's chair has been owned by a number of other musicians since then). In a tiny band stand of Oliver's at Greenwich London these cats had their own way of saying thank you to Dexter Gordon. They showed a good taste in returning to Dexter Gordon's Blue Note years and finding some of the best tunes ever written in the idiom of hardbop and rearranging them for a contemporary quartet. The list includes pieces like Hanky Panky, Ernie's Tune, Society Red, Second Balcony Jump and Cheese Cake, and the focus was on solid, bluesy, marching beat of this tunes.

Recently I asked him about the tenormen who have inspired him. Of course, top of the list belongs to Dex, and after that come these names:

Dexter Gordon: I bought the Ballads album when I was twenty-two and listening one afternoon I recall saying to myself this is why I want to play saxophone, funny that its nearly twenty years later that my band "Dexterritory" are working on presenting some of his Music. His Importance is gigantic, a tenor bridge between the swing and bob players of his generation. His contribution to hard swinging Bop unsurpassed, not to mention his coolness and manner, a sophisticated Giant indeed.
I'm a fool to want you

Stan Getz: Serenity was the first album I really checked out and I still get mileage from it, actually was just listening I Remember You from the live album. As Coltrane remarked "we'd all sound like Stan if we could". His sound and lyrical quality are simply outstanding. Stan is old Blue Eyes for me on Tenor. 

Joe Henderson: I was lucky enough to meet Joe twice both briefly, he was a gentleman. His playing like all of the greats was stamped with a instantly recognizable sound...and what a sound. I do prefer the later recordings particularly the records he made playing the music of Jobim and Miles. Go Joe....
Recorda Me

John Coltrane: Could not be omitted from my top Five. My favourite albums are Lush Life and the record he made with baritone Johnny Hartman. Trane was the endless searcher for truth and an inspiration to any man.
Giant Steps

Richie Buckley: Richie is  from a big musical family in Dublin, be sure to check him out if your over there. He is an amazing saxophone player and has been a factor in my wanting to play. Has all the qualities of a master musician. He made a record a few years back called Your Love Is Here

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