One-Sheet and Press Release
For the first time in the magnificent history of the WDR Big Band, Bass Lion Music presents individual band members in small-group formats on an album of swinging, melodic, modern mainstream jazz. The core of the WDR Big Band rhythm section—bassist John Goldsby and drummer Hans Dekker lay the foundation for the band’s storied soloists—Andy Hunter, Johan Hörlén, Mattis Cederberg, Paul Heller, Ruud Breuls, and Ludwig Nuss. Pure Imagination spotlights the incredible horn players of the WDR Big Band, anchored by Goldsby and Dekker, in “chord-less” trio and quartet ensembles with no piano or guitar—pure melody, rhythm, and bass counterpoint. The recording showcases the musicians of the WDR Big Band in spontaneous and inspired small group jazz performances of the highest order.
Categories / Key Words: jazz, modern mainstream, trio without chords, contemporary improvisation, original and standard compositions.
Similar to: Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Oscar Pettiford, Dave Holland, Ornette Coleman, Lee Konitz
Pure Imagination: WDR Big Band—Small Group Sessions
Release Date: March 8, 2024 — all platforms UPC: 197189227141
© 2024 Bass Lion Records, Catalogue Number BLM019-01, Label Code 18334
Co-production with Westdeutscher Rundfunk, (WDR) Cologne, Germany
Hi-Res Digital Audio: 48000 Hz, 24-bit (digital-only release—all streaming services)
“Si Lu” (Andy Hunter, Bass Lion Publishing BMI)
featuring: Quartet with Andy Hunter, Johan Hörlén, Hans Dekker, John Goldsby
“Laverne Walk” (Oscar Pettiford, Laerteas-Music Co.)
featuring: Trio with Johan Hörlén, Hans Dekker, John Goldsby
“Pure Imagination” (Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley, Sooner or Later Publishing)
featuring: Trio with Mattis Cederberg, Hans Dekker, John Goldsby
“Nippes” (Paul Heller, GEMA Manuskript)
featuring: Trio with Paul Heller, Hans Dekker, John Goldsby
“Blue in Green” (Miles Davis, Jazz Horn Music Corporation)
featuring: Trio with Ruud Breuls, Hans Dekker, John Goldsby
“Just Friends” (John Klenner & Sam M. Lewis, Redwood Music Ltd.)
featuring: Trio with Ludwig Nuss, Hans Dekker, John Goldsby
John Goldsby: Double Bass
Hans Dekker: Drums
Andy Hunter: Trombone
Johan Hörlén: Alto Saxophone
Mattis Cederberg: Cimbasso
Paul Heller: Tenor Saxophone
Ruud Breuls: Trumpet
Ludwig Nuss: Trombone
Executive Producer (WDR): Arnd Richter
Producer: Robin Meloy Goldsby, Bass Lion Music and Publishing
Artistic Producer: John Goldsby
Recording and Mastering:
Recording Producer: Martin Rust
Sound Engineer: David Schwager
Mastering: Astrid Großmann-Hudasch
Cover Illustration and Design: Mattis Cederberg
The WDR Big Band
(Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Koeln / West German Radio, Cologne)
The WDR Big Band connects people worldwide, inspires audiences of all ages, and elevates jazz and contemporary music to the highest level by cultivating the jazz tradition and shaping the future of big band performance. The ensemble embraces cultural ambidexterity by honoring traditions built over decades as a world leader in large-ensemble jazz, through commissions of new music and world premieres, and by aligning with contemporary artists who contribute to the band’s vision.
With the release of Pure Imagination: WDR Big Band—Small Group Sessions, the WDR offers recordings of small groups featuring select musicians in the big band roster. The soloists are presented in intimate, transparent musical vignettes. For the first time in the 77-year history of various incarnations of the WDR Big Band, jazz fans can hear more of the unique voices comprising this world-class ensemble—up close and personal. Earlier configurations of the WDR Big Band include Kölner Rundfunk-Tanzorchester/Cologne Radio Dance Orchestra [founded 1947], Kölner Tanz- und Unterhaltungsorchester/ KTUO, Dance and Entertainment Orchestra of Cologne [also 1947], and WDR Tanzorchester Werner Müller . The ensemble evolved into the WDR Big Band in the mid-80s, and subsequently became one of the premier jazz ensembles on the scene for the past four decades, with multiple Grammy nominations and awards. Currently, Principal Conductor Bob Mintzer and Composer-in-Residence Vince Mendoza continue the high standards set by previous legendary bandleaders, including Michael Abene, Rich DeRosa, Bill Dobbins, and Jerry van Rooyen.
The Stories Behind the Music
Pure Imagination: WDR Big Band—Small Group Sessions
Conceived and organized by bassist John Goldsby, who has held down the bass chair since 1994, the WDR planned a week of recording in 2021 to showcase some of the fantastic soloists who have become household names to numerous fans on Facebook (100,000+ followers), YouTube (100,000 followers), and all major streaming services. John and his longtime partner-in-time Hans Dekker decided to record in trio and quartet—without piano or guitar—with a few of their horn-playing colleagues: Andy Hunter, Johan Hörlén, Mattis Cederberg, Paul Heller, and Ludwig Nuss. The results are magical—brilliant musicians, left to create their own musical playgrounds in a small-group format unfettered by the weight of the whole big band sound. Some soloists chose original compositions, while others selected often-played standard repertoire to make their musical statements. Each track is a gem.
“Si Lu” is an original composition penned by trombonist Andy Hunter. The Chinese-language title translates to ‘thought path.’ Indeed the quartet finds their train of thought as they explore the wide vistas of the composition, hinting at shades of Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, and other modernists of the ‘50s and ‘60s, reimagined through the lens of the 21st century. Goldsby and Dekker play freely in time, while the front line of Hunter and Hörlén create a colorful, mysterious vibe. The tune evolves into a modal romp for the horns, leading to a wild ride of collective improvisation.
“Laverne Walk” by legendary bassist Oscar Pettiford is a tour-de-force for Hörlén and Goldsby. The fleet bounce of the melody captures the essence of the bebop era. Dekker tap dances and juggles with the beat, and the compact performance travels the dance floor in a radio-play-friendly three minutes and 32 seconds! (Laverne refers to a dancer whom Pettiford fancied.)
“Pure Imagination” features Mattis Cederberg on the cimbasso, a seldom-played brass instrument which was first developed in the late-19thcentury. The sound is suggests a bass trombone, albeit with a sultry timbre that perfectly captures the theme with “pure imagination.” Dekker and Goldsby create a magic carpet of breathy, flowing rhythm, cushioning the performance in an otherworldly aura. Cederberg weaves his melody and solo with ease and sage-like grace.
Paul Heller wrote “Nippes” as a homage to his neighborhood in Cologne, Germany. Listening to Heller’s swinging melody and dancing solo lures the listener into the tenor player’s musical mind—framed by a happy romp through the familiar streets of his hipster neighborhood. After Goldsby’s melodic bass solo, Heller and Dekker square off to tell each other a thing or two—trading fours as musical sport among friends.
“Blue in Green” is a new rendition of the classic 1959 Miles Davis ballad. On Pure Imagination: WDR Big Band—Small Group Sessions, trumpeter Ruud Breuls pays tribute to Miles with his personal interpretation of the hauntingly beautiful ballad, creating an evocative and timeless new version of the classic. Breuls’s stark spot-on intonation, emotional rendering of the theme, and intimate solo statement breathe new life into this immortal jazz standard.
Ludwig Nuss takes center stage on a freewheeling arrangement of “Just Friends.” The trio embraces a conversational approach to the standard song by weaving in and out of cooperative, joyous improvising—open, melodic, and honest. By the end of the trombone solo, Dekker and Goldsby jump on the bus, letting Nuss float over the Latin-esque groove and take the familiar melody home. The track tells the story of a compact, whimsical, virtuosic musical journey, spontaneously created, and shared by three friends.
Pure Imagination: WDR Big Band—Small Group Sessions ˜drops on all major streaming platforms on March 8, 2024.
For more information about Pure Imagination: WDR Big Band—Small Group Sessions, John Goldsby, Bass Lion Publishing, or the WDR Big Band’s upcoming events, please visit their websites and follow them on social media.
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