It's A Bird, It's A Plane... It's Superheroes! Randy Waldman's Jazz Superheroes-Packed CD On BFM Jazz, September 21, 2018


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Randy Waldman's career spans more than 40 years, and he’s performed and toured with many of the biggest names in the jazz, pop and R&B worlds. His work can be heard on hundreds of movies, television shows, and albums. Randy has been Barbra Streisand's pianist and musical director for over 30 years and is featured on many of her albums, movies, and live performances. He won a Grammy for co-arranging “Somewhere" on Streisand's The Broadway Album, and he received a Grammy nomination for Best Vocal Arrangement for The Manhattan Transfer's track, “Code of Ethics" from their album Bodies and Souls. He also toured with George Benson for seven years as his pianist, conductor and arranger. Waldman has worked with the brightest stars in the music firmament, from Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney to Michael Buble and Quincy Jones.

Waldman’s newest project is called Superheroes. Five years in the making, Superheroes features the stellar rhythm section of pianist Randy Waldman, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and bassist Carlitos del Puerto, who are joined by jazz luminaries including Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis, Steve Gadd, Randy Brecker, Eddie Daniels, George Benson, Joe Lovano, Arturo Sandoval, Chris Potter, and the vocal group Take 6. Waldman re-arranged theme music from his favorite superhero movies and TV shows, transforming them into fun, accessible, and exciting jazz tunes.

Waldman got the idea for this project a few years ago when he had the good fortune to be seated at an event next to actor Adam West, the original TV Batman. “We talked a lot about music,” relates Waldman. “Adam loved jazz, and the thought occurred to me that he was an actual jazz superhero. That surprising and unexpected conversation stayed in the back of my mind for years.” That chance encounter percolated in Randy’s mind, and inspiration came like a bolt out of the blue. He would make a CD of superhero theme music played by some of his jazz superheroes!

Although he works with artists across many genres, jazz is Waldman’s first love, and he’s previously produced and released three Randy Waldman Trio CDs. Wigged Out (1998) features jazz greats John Patitucci on bass (Chick Corea) and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums (Herbie Hancock, Sting), as well as several legendary musical guests, including Arturo Sandoval, Michael Brecker, Bob Berg and Freddie Hubbard. UnReel (2001) comprises a variety of soundtrack and theme music from many different films and television shows that Waldman re-arranged and presents as jazz tunes. Timing is Everything (2003) features bassist Brian Bromberg and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta.

Like most kids growing up, Waldman watched all the popular superhero TV shows, but his favorite was “Adventures of Superman,” and he included in this project the themes from both the TV show and the movies. Waldman opens the TV theme with voiceover cameos by John Travolta, Jeff Goldblum, James Brolin, Olivia Newton-John, Michael Bublé, And Josh Groban. The track features Eddie Daniels, who leads off with a beautifully crafted tenor sax solo. Trumpeter Randy Brecker effortlessly follows up the piano solo with a harmonically rich and textured improvisation. The track culminates with a drum solo by Colaiuta that defies the rhythmic laws of physics.

Waldman captures the clash between good and evil on the “Superman Movie” theme in a musical interchange between guitar legend George Benson and bassist del Puerto.

“Mighty Mouse” was also popular in the movies and on TV. Waldman created a difficult, polyrhythmic arrangement of the theme that features an intricate drum pattern by Colaiuta and a powerful 13-piece horn section with solos by del Puerto and saxophonist Joe Lovano.

“Spiderman” movies are surely one of the most popular, contemporary superhero franchises, and the theme from the movies is instantly recognizable. The vocal group Take 6 performs an a cappella intro to the tune, arranged by Mark Kibble, while saxophonist Chris Potter wails over the Latin groove.

In a unique pairing, drummers Colaiuta and Steve Gadd perform together for the first time on the theme to the “Six Million Dollar Man.” The tune also features trumpet great Arturo Sandoval soaring over the propulsive Latin beat.

“Super Chicken” begins with a slow, deliberate, ascending Rhapsody in Blue-like clarinet glissando by Eddie Daniels, which quickly turns into a barn-burning 360 beats per minute number that features Bob McChesney on trombone and Sandoval on trumpet.

For “The Incredible Hulk,” Waldman chose to focus on the character’s sensitive human side rather than on his manifestation as a gigantic green monster. Chick Corea, one of Waldman’s favorite pianists, joins in on this track with a signature synth solo.

The “X-Men” theme, from another popular and very contemporary movie franchise, features solos by trumpeter Till Bronner and Colaiuta.

The “Batman” TV theme is backed by a supercharged 13-piece horn section accentuating the “bam,” “sock,” “pow” hits. Legendary Wynton Marsalis lends his super talents to this caped crusader’s musical mission. The “Batman” movie theme is very different than the TV theme. Waldman captures the dark and mysterious feel of the theme, which is highlighted in a solo by guitarist Michael O'Neill.

Colaiuta and Gadd bounce off each other in asymmetrical rhythms in the “Underdog” theme. McChesney’s trombone solo achieves stunning, technical articulations.

Superheroes is serious music performed by superheroes of the jazz world. This is music of the highest caliber. It’s fun and accessible even for people who don’t normally listen to jazz.

Superheroes can be pre-ordered at PledgeMusic.com starting mid-August, along with a selection of unique Superheroes related merchandise and experiences that can't be found elsewhere. The album will be available online everywhere and at BFMjazz.com on September 21, 2018.

This story appears courtesy of Mouthpiece Music.
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