After documenting their indelible chemistry together on three previous outings -- 2002’s aptly-titled Good Pals, 2003’s Up Jazz Creek and 2005’s Tales of the Tetons -- longtime musical partners Brian Booth and Kevin Stout have crafted a beautiful paean to a picturesque part of their home state affectionately known as Color Country. Their long-overdue fourth recording once again features the stellar rhythm section of Las Vegas pianist (and longtime musical director for Debbie Reynolds) Joey Singer, Las Vegas drummer John Abraham and in-demand Los Angeles bassist Tom Warrington, who also teaches twice a week in the jazz studies department at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.
An area in scenic southern Utah that contains five national parks and countless breathtaking views, Color Country has become a recreational escape for saxophonist Booth and trombonist Stout in recent years. “It is pretty spectacular,” says Booth. “And now that I’ve got a daughter and her family that live in Southern Utah, we get down there a lot more often so I’ve been able to see some things that I wouldn’t ordinarily have made time to go see. It’s just an amazing place and I’m certainly going to spend more time there in the future. And when Kevin moved down to Las Vegas, he really fell in love with that Southern Utah area. He’s spent a lot of time camping and hiking down in those places.”
Adds Stout, “I remember my Dad would take us camping down in that area. Years later, my sister moved to a town named Hurricane, which is real close to Zion National Park. So I used to go down and visit her there. It’s kind of where my family is from. My grandfather was born real close to there in Rockville, Utah, just outside of Zion National Park. I call it my ancestral homeland, in a way.”
Each of the tracks on Color Country is named for a particular place or geographical phenomenon in the area. As Stout explains, “We had already done a recording about the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, so we decided we should do one for the state of Utah because we’re both from there.”
Booth says it was his old high school band director that actually got he and Stout back together after a prolonged absence. “Kevin got busy playing in shows in Las Vegas and he also spent seven years touring and recording with the Four Freshmen. And I’ve been involved with the Salt Lake City Jazz Orchestra since the early ‘80s. So maybe 20 years went by before our high school band director from Cottonwood High in Salt Lake City decided to put together an alumni concert. And Kevin came up for that. I feel pretty fortunate that we were able to reconnect after as many years as we were separated. He’s always been an amazing musician.”
Of their obvious chemistry together, Stout says of his partner Booth, “Brian is just one of those guys...when I go to play with him he’s just always in tune with me. I don’t know what it is. We just have the same approach or something. That doesn’t happen with anybody else that I play with.”
You can hear that tightness coming out of the gate on the vibrant opener “Panorama Point,” named for a scenic attraction in Capitol Reef National Park. Fueled by an upbeat pulse from the world-class rhythm tandem of drummer Abraham and bassist Warrington, this buoyant Booth composition features stellar solos from pianist Singer, trombonist Stout and tenor saxophonist Booth. Stout’s Latin flavored “Aquarius Plateau” was named for part of the Grand Staircase National Monument, an elevated landform that includes Bryce Canyon National Park. “It’s the highpoint of the area,” he explains. “And the view from up there is pretty amazing too. You can see across three or four states -- 100 miles or so -- when the weather is clear.” Kevin turns in a particularly brilliant trombone solo on this compelling number.
“Double Arch” is a piece that Booth wrote while on a two-week stay in Moab, near Arches National Park. “It’s amazing how huge it is,” says Brian of the famous tourist attraction. Trombone and sax lock in tightly on the intricate unison lines that flow through the changes on this briskly swinging jazz waltz. Says Booth of his partner, “The saxophone has the ability to play really fast lines while the trombone has limitations in that regard. So for Kevin to play some of the lines that I wrote for him on this tune and others on the album is just uncanny. He can play all the difficult sax-like lines that I write, which is not typical of most trombonists. They are not easy lines but I always have complete faith in his ability to play them, and he's never let me down. He has also never complained about my writing. He just plays them well and in tune. And he also has an amazing range.” Stout, Booth, pianist Singer and bassist Warrington all turn in invigorating solos on this engaging number.
“Color Country,” a term coined more than 50 years ago to describe the grandeur of the area, is an infectious samba flavored Stout original that features enhanced colors from Booth’s soprano sax and the wordless vocals of JoBelle Yonely. “The title also refers to the different colors that we can add to this group,” says Kevin. “It’s a basically a quintet but we overdubbed some extra colors. And I wanted to get some of my percussion in there too.”
Stout’s tender ballad “Weeping Rock” is named for a singular phenomenon in Zion Canyon, located in Zion National Park. As Booth explains, “You’re out in the middle of this red rock country where there’s hardly anything as far as vegetation. Then you walk up into this area and there’s a little oasis there, and as you get up closer to it you see that the water is running right out of the side of the rock and down the face of the cliff there. So it’s kind of like a natural spring and the water actually travels for miles and miles underground before it comes out of that particular spot.” Stout overdubs guitar on this minor key lament, which is underscored by Abraham’s alluring brushwork. Booth handles the melody on soprano, alternating with Kevin’s full-bodied trombone. JoBelle’s wordless vocals help flesh out this lush offering while Singer also turns in an exceptionally lyrical piano solo here.
The energized “Grand Staircase,” based on the chord changes to John Coltrane’s anthemic “Giant Steps,” is a fierce blowing vehicle for trombone and tenor sax. Says composer Booth, “I put it in 6/4 so that it kind of changed it enough that you have to listen closely to figure out what’s really going on in there. And as far as the title, I figured ‘Grand Staircase’ suggested giant steps to me. So I used Coltrane’s changes for that.”
Kevin’s driving, Afro-Caribbean flavored “Hoodoo Voodoo” is a rhythmically-charged number reminiscent of Mongo Santamaria’s “Afro Blue” and named for a geologic feature unique to Bryce Canyon. “It’s not really a canyon but it’s an amphitheater, and it’s one of the places my dad took me when I was young,” says Stout. “There you will see these towers of sandstone that are all over the place. They’re called hoodoos. I thought I’d write something in 6/8 and tried to make it a real hypnotic Latin thing, so I’m playing congas, bongos, timbales and cowbell in there. And then I incorporated a 4/4 swing section that I solo on with trombone before returning to the 6/8 thing.” Booth also delivers a soulful tenor solo on this grooving, tempo-shifting showcase.
Booth’s lovely “Anne of Coral Canyon” is jointly named for his daughter and for an area near St. George, Utah. Kevin is featured on some especially beautiful trombone playing here and Brian follows with some inspired tenor playing on his lyrical offering. Singer also contributes a cascading piano solo that elevates the proceedings while the two principals enrich the sound with flute and guitar overdubs.
“Petroglyphs,” named for the rock engravings found all throughout the national parks of southern Utah, is Booth’s uptempo bebop burner based on the chord changes to Charlie Parker’s “Blues for Alice.” Singer takes the lead coming out of the gate with a invigorating piano intro before trombone and tenor sax enter, playing tight unisons over the Bird changes. Booth offers a bold tenor solo and is followed in kind by Stout, who channels his inner J.J. Johnson on his exhilarating solo. Bassist Warrington also gets an extended solo taste here before Booth and Stout exchange rapid-fire fours with drummer Abraham, in classic bebop fashion.
Stout’s “Confluence,” named for the point where the Colorado and the Green River come together in Canyonlands National Park, is a dreamy number that has Booth and Stout probing on tenor sax and trombone, respectively. Singer also turns in a reflective piano solo here.
“San Rafael Swell,” named for an imposing geological feature in Color Country that can be seen from miles away, is a mini-suite of sorts. It opens softly with a solo military drum cadence that becomes louder and louder until the full band enters. Says composer Stout, “I got the idea from driving back from Wisconsin. My wife was going to school out there for a couple of summers and I would fly out and drive back with her, and when you take I-70 and cross the Colorado border you can see this massive wall of stone a good 80-100 miles away. And the closer you get to it, the further West you drive, it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger until it’s just this huge wall of stone that goes from north to south in both directions as far as you can see. It’s a big mountain biking area. I’ve gone out there to hang out, go camping, go climbing on the sandstone. It’s a pretty amazing place. And what I was hoping to attain with the tune was that picture of getting closer and closer until you’re there, and you’re just overwhelmed when you get there.” The piece evolves from the quiet opening to an ecstatic crescendo of simultaneous soloing befitting the arrival to this awesome site.
“Cataract Canyon,” named for a popular whitewater rafting destination on the Colorado River near Big Drop Rapids, is Booth’s swaggering, blues-tinged progression fueled by Abraham’s crisp polyrhythmic backbeats. The tenor saxophonist digs in and wails with abandon on this closer while Stout adds another virtuosic trombone solo to the proceedings. And their unison lines are, once again, indelibly forged.
That kind of tightness between trombone and tenor and this whole cohesive unit is evident from track to track on Color Country, which stands as the Booth-Stout team’s most fully-realized outing to date.
Here you have one of the compositions of Booth for this great record production accompanied by a video alusico "Double Arch" in jazz waltz:
The influence of Latin music highlights from the beginning...
¡¡Viva The Latin Jazz!!
KATE SMITH PROMOTIONS