When I heard Tim Price was appearing at Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base in Reading, Pennsylvania, I couldn�t wait to hear him and talk with him, as I�ve known him since we were teenagers! I knew he had gone on to Berklee College of Music, was teaching saxophone as well as playing at least clarinet and saxophone � but I must admit I hadn�t totally followed his career. Now it was time to catch up. Talking with him and visiting his website helped me discover all he�s been doing, and I was simply blown away by the heights he has risen to in his career and the esteem in which he is held by his colleagues all over the world.
Here�s a homegrown, Reading musician who �grew up and went to the big city,� so to speak, and is now a trademark name worldwide in the teaching and playing of woodwind instruments. His music is more traditional jazz, which I�m certain is an oversimplification in his case, and his playing on any instrument is truly phenomenal. His middle name seems to be innovation, and just one of the things he�s done is to bring electronica to woodwinds. A highlight of the show was his playing of the electronic bassoon, with its pick-up amplified through Line 6 effects pedals (some of you will know what they are). Tim claims there�s nothing like a wah-wah bassoon when he�s jamming, and all of this is tied to his reverence for Gil Melle, who was his hero in electronics and jazz creativity with his pre-fusion music.
Tim Price is in demand as a performer and educator worldwide; he conducts clinics throughout the world, teaches from his home studio in Reading, as well as jazz saxophone at Kutztown University and also in Michiko Studios in New York City.
On the night of this show at the Jazz Base, he was joined by pianist Rachel Z, who is quite an accomplished musician herself who has played with many artists in her career. As Price told us, �playing with Rachel Z is like winning the lottery,� and she was a picture of sheer talent during the entire show. I�m sure I�ve never seen a pianist�s fingers move as quickly as hers did. Her concentration alone was captivating to watch. Married to the drummer, Bobbie Rae, Rachel wowed us all with her intricate interpretations of the music. Tim loves playing with Bobbie Rae, who was Mr. Dynamic on drums; Tim considers him a unique drummer in the world of jazz music, and says Bobbie�s brush playing keeps him smiling. Scott Lee, a cutting edge bassist who teaches with Tim at Kutztown University, is a main figure for Tim in all his bands. Tim considers this his �New York Band� and what a great blend of musicians they are.
The band put together a memorable night of music, including Tim�s own arrangements of songs like the Beatles� �I Feel Fine,� John Coltrane�s �Niama,� the Beach Boys� �Surfer Girl,� rearranged like a Jazz Waltz and played on a curved soprano sax, and �Naked Truth,� an original composition Tim wrote for combination best friend/awesome sax player Jennifer Hall. The band slowed it down for the ending of this song and it was very sweet, like the rippling of water.
A highlight of the show was �MELLE,� a number written in honor of Gil Melle, who was the film composer for Andromeda Strain. Melle�s recent passing is a great loss to Price, who considered him a great friend, and someone who deeply touched and inspired Tim�s music.
Additional numbers were a re-arrangement of Roberta Flack�s �For All We Know,� and �Let�s Go Setsko,� written for Tim by Fred Lipsius, founder of Blood, Sweat and Tears.
One of the things that struck me all during this show is that you could never know for sure when a song was ending � these were unique endings, endings like you�ve never heard before. These are the twists and turns of music at its best, and my appreciation of jazz grew by more leaps and bounds with the skillful playing of these four musicians.
If you missed this great show, you�ll have another opportunity on March 3rd, when Price will again perform with Rachel Z, Bobbie Rae and Scott Lee . And on the 10th, he will be back for the Berks Jazz Preview Concert/Saxophone Summit.
Beverly J. Packard
Jazz Circle Member of the Berks Arts Council
Photo credits: Michael Packard