Composer, arranger and guitarist Peter Hand leads the Peter Hand Big Band featuring saxophonist Houston Person on the new release The Wizard of Jazz-A Tribute to Harold Arlen
on Savant/HighNote Records. Recorded live in 2005 during Arlen's centenary celebration, this special concert has been newly remixed and mastered to capture all the swinging sounds from a historic and memorable music event.
Peter Hand has been on the New York jazz scene for many years and is one of those rare and remarkable triple threats as composer, player, arranger, and now big band leader. He has led his own quintet and tentet, and performed with and/or written for Carmen Lundy, George Coleman, Lee Konitz, Jon Lucien, the Central New York Jazz Orchestra and the Williamstown Jazz Festival. Peter conceived and co-founded the Westchester Jazz Orchestra, serving as artistic director during its first season. In a career that has included working in nearly every jazz idiom, Peter is now putting it all together in a big way with the Peter Hand Big Band, with a virtual who's who" of great players in every chair. In addition to Peter on the guitar, the ensemble features Don Braden, Ralph Lalama, Mike Migliore, Brad Leali, Kenny Berger, Cecil Bridgewater, Brian Pareschi, Valery Ponomarev, Jim Rotondi, Sam Burtis, John Mosca, Jim Pugh, Richard Wyands, Harvie S and Steve Johns.
Harold Arlen's contribution to the Great American Songbook is a rich and plentiful one-with a distinctly different character that sets him apart from all others in the pantheon of Americas most beloved composers. In choosing Arlen for a special tribute, Peter Hand noted, The music of Harold Arlen has long appealed to me. Unlike many of his fellow Broadway and Hollywood songwriters, Arlen's early musical experiences in the 1920s and 30s were as a jazz vocalist, pianist and bandleader deeply rooted in blues and swing." And in regard to the concert captured for posterity on this new release Hand adds, The idea to do a tribute to Harold Arlen as his 100th birthday approached in 2005 was wonderfully exciting, and even more so when the great tenor saxophonist Houston Person enthusiastically agreed to be the featured guest soloist."
Houston Person needs no introduction to jazz fans. With over 75 albums under his name alone, there are few artists today who can match his enduring and ever growing legacy. As a master soloist who plays ballads, blues, swinging hard bop and more with complete authority and a magnificent sound, Person is the ideal interpreter of the Arlen songbook. Houston had previously collaborated with Peter Hand on other large ensemble projects, and recorded Hand's composition Brazilian Emerald" on his 2007 album Thinking of You The all live recording features such enduring classics as Come Rain or Come Shine", The Man That Got Away", Let's Fall in Love", Ill Wind", Stormy Weather" and others. Peter Hand wrote all the arrangements and they all reflect his deep understanding of what makes this material so special-as well as his desire to bring something fresh to the familiar by making it sound new and surprising. Hand adds Although I also enjoy writing in more extended and complex forms, I wrote these arrangements as I might for a singer-primarily to frame Houston's tenor saxophone voice, while leaving space for other soloists and putting my identity into it as well. There is something very special about having the power, colors and sympathetic arrangements of a large ensemble behind a soloist that lifts the music to a new and exciting level."
The Peter Hand Big Band with Houston Person The Wizard of Jazz-A Tribute to Harold Arlen will be released June 16, 2009 on Savant Records.