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Interview with Jim Manley
Some years ago a friend of mine showed me a CD called Lip Trip with trumpeter Jim Manley. Wow - really exiting playing. I really wanted to get it, but I was never able to find the CD in any record shop. Now some years later, thanks to Internet, it is possible to get CD's directly from Jim Manley. You just go to his website www.jimmanley.net and order it. You transfer the money via PayPal and a week later you have the music in your house. You then can insert the CD in the player, turn up the volume, sit down, lean back and let it swing.
Jim Manley's earlier recordings have titles like "Some Assembly Required", "Lip Trip", "Horns in the House and other criminals". It looks like he has an affinity for special titles and his latest CD also confirms this. We had a short cyber talk with Manley about his latest CD project:
Jim, what do you mean with the title "Splendor in the Brass"? Any association to the Elia Kazan movie, or?
I do know the movie, but the title came from a wonderful record I heard in high school. I stole the title from the album. It was by an arranger named Chuck Sagle and he had an all-star band of west coast players on it. I have the record - it took me a few years to find a copy, but I had taped it in high school on a small horrible tape player and I use to listen to it all the time in high school.
The producer and studio engineer and I came up with a dozen different names for the CD-but Splendor in the Brass just fit the music so well.
St. Louis Blues is a great tune. What made you choose that as the opening track?
When we were mixing the CD we all loved the energy on St. Louis Blues. It just stuck out as the opening cut and we all agreed on that. I've always had fun picking the order along with Greg Trampe, the engineer and producer of most of my CD's. I think it really sets up what the CD is all about.
There are several well known tunes on the CD, but you also have a tune called "Weekend in Paris" arranged and composed by your self. Did you compose it for this project?
Yes, I did write a few tunes for the Splendor CD and Weekend is the one we went with. It fit into the rest of the tunes - like a standard. On all my previous CD's the tunes were all originals (with the exception of my Christmas Unwrapped). Those CD's are in a jazz/funk/fusion mode and my writing for trumpet fits into that genre. This was quite a challenge to record and write for as it is the first time I've done standards and the first time I've recorded with a group this size.
When arranging and composing for this project did you and the other arrangers write everything out before the recording session or did you work it out in the studio?
The arrangers and I went over things way in advance of the recording, but as usual we were getting charts the nights of the sessions. We did not rehearse at all and just read them in the studio. Since the recording we have done two concerts and that was a great deal of fun to play the stuff live in front of an audience.
The musicians on this project, are they local guys from you home town?
Yes, all the players are from my hometown.
One of the lead trumpet players and I went to high school together. The lead trombone player, Bret Stamps is head of jazz studies at SIU-E, a great college here and he was a member of the Stan Kenton orchestra in the mid 70's.
My drummer, Joe Weber, was a member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra in the mid 80's - but we didn't hold it against him.
In the liner notes you say: "This project is a thank you to Ed Levinsky.." Tell us about him.
Ed Levinsky was my high school band director and during my free time in high school he would bring in records of all the jazz greats for me to hear. He ran a mail order record store out of his basement and had an endless supply of things to play. I really fell in love with those records and after high school and all through college (and still) I have collected almost everything he played for me.
I did not grow up in a musical family and Ed was my first source for great jazz. This CD was a dream project for me to re-create some of those tunes I heard growing up. I dedicate it to all the teachers in the world that take the time to "play records" for their students.