Worcester Magazine

Talkin' Jazz!

by Matt Robert / photo by Steven King

Back when I used to work in musical instrument retail at the Worcester branch of a New England chain, a kid in his late teens came in and started fiddling with some guitars. Seeing that he had chosen a nylon string classical-type, I opened my pitch with, “So, are you looking to learn classical guitar?” I was wholly unprepared for his response, which was, “Well, I mastered jazz, so I thought I would take up classical.”

I decided to leave him alone to master classical on the showroom floor.

Listening to the most recent release by the Galindo/Phaneuf Quartet, I now have that too-late response to that innocent youth’s comment: “Mastered Jazz? Okay, then, listen to this!” The Galindo/Phaneuf Quartet is what mastery of jazz sounds like, though the musicians here play with pious and disciplined seriousness and an absence of hubris and cliché that only a lifetime of devotion to craft can teach.

“Talkin’ Horns,” released this year, is a 12-track exploration of modern jazz in its totality, the type that emerged post-World War II, when the music transitioned from hot to cool, no longer acting as motivation for dancers, but as serious concert music.

Shockingly, the CD, recorded at Wellspring Studios, in Acton, Mass., was captured in one evening – nearly one and a half hours of really sophisticated stuff!

“Basically we ran through it in one night,” says Galindo by phone last week. “Every tune we recorded, except one, were all first takes. We usually did two takes of everything, but when we went back and listened to the stuff, we found the first take had the most fire and was overall the best.”

This is a startling revelation, considering the complexity of the work, both in terms of its intricate bebop heads and intuitive and dialedin free-jazz improvisation, which are balanced perfectly throughout.

“I mean, everyone can play well and knows the kind of material. There’s a lot of compositions, but there’s also a lot of improvisational interplay happening within the album,” says Galindo, “and these guys are some of the best at it.”

Indeed they are. These are musicians at the top of their field, a rarefied air of outrageous technical, historical, and intuitive musicianship, honed over decades in clubs, studios, and big stages around the world. Galindo alone, in addition to working on the Berklee faculty, has played with a who’s who of popular and jazz artists far too numerous to begin to name here.

“Talkin’ Horns” brings the combo to life with stunning fidelity and dynamics. The performances sound gorgeous, with lots of air and room. Over the mostly-original dozen tracks (except Duke Ellington’s “Angelica” and Bill Warfield’s “Kill Flow”), the quartet plays “Real Book” jazz, setting the tone with complex bop heads and then clearing space for wild improvisational jaunts that bring to mind the buoyancy of Charles Mingus and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, the modal complexity of Thelonious Monk, and the hot and cool, but always risktaking soloing of Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and John Coltrane.

The latter is thanks to Mark Phaneuf’s alto and soprano sax work, which shows a generous Bird influence, and the killer rhythm section of John Lockwood, on acoustic bass, and Bob Gullotti, on drums, who swing hard, create beautiful bridges between head and solo, and continuously pave an extraordinary road over which the horns solo. The interplay is phenomenal, the instruments intuiting and coalescing serendipitously in spontaneous composition.

Overall, it hearkens to the classic small combos that dominated the ’40s and ’50s. With liberal use of big intervals, a wide range of pleasant and jarring tones, and time-bending segments that evoke a ’60s film soundtrack for episodes of psychosis, the band paints with a broad palate, always executing with mastery, precision, knowledge, and sensitivity to the composition and the other instruments.

Jeff Galindo’s trombone work adds a refreshing, warm and playful sound, as an instrument that has been essential to jazz history, though not often in as central a role as heard here. Galindo really explores the full range of the horn, from the woozy, boozy passages in “Sola Power” to the blazing runs and elephant roars in “Broadway Excursions.”

The tenor sax work of George Garzone, who appears on five tracks, adds warmth to the rich horn blend, creating further harmonic complexities that bring to mind Miles Davis’ Gil Evans’ arrangements.

This is heavy jazz – really serious music. Lovers of Michael Buble and Kenny G need not apply. This is the hard stuff, for jazz fans, not tourists.

Galindo, the recipient of a 2013 Worcester Arts Council grant, hopes to use the benefit to bring more of this kind of important jazz to Worcester. Despite a rich music scene, he says, jazz is hard to find around town. He plans to change this by bringing some of these top-shelf musicians to Worcester, such as the group’s performance last week at Volturno Pizza, in the old Edward Buick building on Shrewsbury Street.

Check out www.jeffgalindo.com or www.reverbnation.com/jeffgalindo for information and updates, and download a copy of this stellar CD at www.cdbaby.com/cd/talkinhorns.


Worcester’s Jeff Galindo Makes it Big Worldwide

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Galindo is touring the world with Esperanza Spalding and in the past has appeared on a few of the country's favorite late night shows. Image courtesy of Bruce Fararra

Local jazz artist Jeff Galindo is a highly sought after musician, and not just in his current hometown of Worcester, but all over the word. He began playing the trombone at the age of 7 with the Salvation Army Band, and from there his career as rocketed to heights he could never have anticipated at such a young age.

He was introduced to jazz at 15.

"It completely knocked me out," remarks the musician.

"Before that I played but, as a kid, had many interests. But when I heard jazz and especially jazz improvisation, I knew immediately that this is what I wanted to do. I went to my junior high school band director and told him this. He gave me some jazz albums and some jazz improv materials and I started working very hard by myself with this lifelong endeavor."

Born in San Francisco, he initially moved to New England to attend the Berklee College of Music. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Who Galindo Performs With

Galindo is currently the Musical Director and lead trombonist with Esperanza Spalding, the 3 time Grammy award-winning singer and bassist, and touring the world with her Radio Music Society.

A little closer to home, he can be seen playing in the Boston area with musicians John Lockwood, Bob Gullotti, and George Garzone (the long-time acclaimed trio known as The Fringe). He also plays with Charlie Kohlhase's Explorers Club, the Greg Hopkins Big Band and Nonet. In Worcester itself, where he has lived for two years now, he backs up acts at the Hanover Theatre and can be commonly seen with local musicians Dick Ogdren, Bob Simonelli, Duncan Arsenault and Pete LeVesque, among others.

Last but not least, Jeff has appeared on some of the country's most popular late night talk shows including The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

For all his efforts, he was recently awarded a Worcester Arts Council Fellowship for 2013.

Music as Communication

But the promise of fame and monetary success is not what ultimately drove Jeff Galindo to transfer his innate musical desires into something tangible. His love for the craft is far more profound. Music allows one to express emotions and feelings that nothing else really can.

"I get to tell my story and bring out things musically. Share who I am. Music doesn't lie. We can speak lies, but a musician plays who he is," says Jeff.

And the ability to improvise, which Jeff is able to do so effortlessly, takes this unique aspect of music to a whole new level.

"Music is a language and jazz music, in particular, is a very communicative form. At a high level, the musicians are communicating to each other and to the audience... it's not a specific communication, its more emotions and feelings...I try to share my emotions and feelings with the audience as well as communicate with the band. When one improvises, they are not just trying to bring out what a composer might want, like in classical music (much like a storyteller reading a book to an audience), the improviser gets to tell their own story," he states of the mission of his music.

In fact, the title of his most recent CD, Talkin' Horns, which he made with his good friend Marc Phaneuf and others, speaks to this idea of communication through improvisation.

"I called it Talkin' Horns because of the communication we have as a band which is obvious when you hear it. It's not just the usual formula of melody, solos, melody. There is a lot going on through the compositions," he states.

The album is made up of mostly originals and improvisational pieces written by he and Marc.

As with all musicians, he credits all those great jazz musicians who came before with helping him find his musical "voice." These include Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Vic Dickenson, Lester Young, Jack Teagarden, Jimmy Knepper, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Frank Rosolino, Carl Fontana, JJ Johnson, Roswell Rudd, and Joe Lovano, among many, many others. Music connoisseurs will surely be able to hear a hint of each in every song Jeff plays.

What could be in store for the future for a musician who has already achieved such great success? He keeps it simple.

"Music is wide open for me. I am just trying to get better and find different opportunities to play and write," he says.

Talkin' Horns cd

This is very creative CD. Musicality flows throughout. The high caliber participants meld beautifully. Bob Gullotti (percussion) is awesome as he fosters an atmosphere that keeps everyone firmly planted, yet free to roam. Space, time, colorful sounds... Wow! John Lockwood (Bass) is understated, yet always there, like a soft ticking clock. He is creatively supportive, while tailoring tasteful solos along the way. George Garzone (sax) is inimitable and transcendentally expansive. He sinuously inserts one of a kind Garzonianisms that fit right in. Jeff Galindo (trombone) plays uninhibitedly expressive solos, occasionally taking trips to other spheres with abandon. He is developing his own voice. His prodigious solos are crying out to be heard. Marc Phaneuf (soprano, alto sax) has a bold and adventurous style that is refreshingly original. His gutsy original soprano saxophone sound knocks me out. The group plays so well together that you have to really listen to ferret out Marc's handful of subtle and sensitive arrangements. I love this CD and everyone on it!

Rick Stepton, Foremost Trombonist
(former trombonist with The Buddy Rich Big Band)

what I Like Is Sounds blog

Galindo, Hobbs, Lockwood & Gullotti at the Beehive, 10/7/11

I had the very good fortune of hearing the Jeff Galindo Quartet at the Beehive Friday night, and I'm still buzzing from the spirited medley of Ornette Coleman tunes - Round Trip, Lonely Woman, and Peace Warrior - that they played early in their second set.  I was sleepy and almost left after the first set, but I sure am glad I stayed for a while longer.   Wow.

Trombonist Galindo was in very good company, with the great Jim Hobbs on alto joining him up front, and the Fringe's incredible rhythm section, bassist John Lockwood and drummer Bob Gullotti.  Hobbs and Galindo are both great players, and really well suited to each other.  Both choose carefully and playfully from a broad palette of sounds; Galindo moves from swoop to blart and back, and Hobbs has both an exquisitely light touch and a mighty and precise squall.    And of course Lockwood & Gullotti are hugely impressive individually and share a kind of locked-in simpatico that comes from decades of playing together.  (Reminds me, I need to go see The Fringe again....)

Great stuff.   This was my first visit to the Beehive, and I'd like to go back.  It's a neat space that seemed a little more of a see-and-be-seen scene than I was ready for.   The music was audible but at times only marginally over the tipsy Friday night chatter, and standing room was limited to such a degree that I imagine I was in the way of servers more than once.  (Sorry!) Happily, the sound guy was amenable to my suggestion that he bump up the volume on the drums a little bit.  They do a neat thing of projecting the band, which plays downstairs, onto a kind of textured scrim visible from the bar area upstairs.   Seems odd to go see a band and then watch them on a screen, but maybe that's the way to do it there?

Posted 11th October 2011 by
Sound Unities

Mr. Galindo is not merely tall, he is like Paul Bunyan or something. And yet his stature as a trombonist looms far beyond whatever the gene pool threw at him. He is among the Boston participants in the 'live to work' cohort.

By this I mean they make a good living at music from teaching and performance. We have another 'work to live' crew which has some non musical day job.

The Outpost is the meeting place where people from both camps mingle on a merit basis and your C.V. is irrelevent.The teachers often have a special delight in a chance to just cannonball into the pool of uninhibited, utterly engaged invention.

But it is among the seekers of Free that you find his kind of home. He worked in the James Merenda elevation of the Mingus book called the Masked Marvels back in 1999. He is an avid participant in the Charlie Kohlhase cornucopia of compositions and their robust exposition called the Explorers Club. This recording is an area high water mark, sad to say. Since the recession, there has been a general decline in release activity from many Boston participants. It may also be attributable to mid life exhaustion and exasperation with the slim pickings of an imploding music infrastructure.

And his most recent recording is with the scholarly and yet whimsical Tom Hall in a charming and adventurous outing that complements the double drummer line up of Explorers Club by the complete absence of drums, just a pair of lung run things and the alert bass of Marty Ballou forming the trunk of the sonic tree.






This Boston-area big band is staffed with fine players and classy arrangers. Adi Yeshaya’s chart sets up the opener with a latin feel, breaking to hard swinging bass when the vocal enters, ending with a nicely paced ritard. Hadley is a no-nonsense big band drummer (with a predilection for mallets a la Vernel Fournier); Carr is an understated singer who reminds somewhat of Julie London with the clear diction of Annie Ross, without being as sultry or as bombastic, either. The songs are cherry-picked by someone with perspective. Although Carr confesses no initial desire to sing standards—“It would be like driving my parents’ station wagon”—her singer mother got her hooked after asking her to sub on a big band gig 16 years ago. Subsequently, Carr has worked with the repertory bands of Artie Shaw, Harry James and Glenn Miller, and this is her fifth self-release. Hadley, who revived his big band especially for this date, hired arranger Richard Lowell—a veteran of Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich and Bob Freedman, who created settings for Diane Reeves and Lena Horne—to frame Carr’s voice. Cute Freedman horn lines dry- ly respond to Carr’s reading of “They All Laughed.” Carr’s cautionary savvy makes “I Could Have Told You” effecting and plausible; she rarely breaks loose, preferring the insouciant storytelling of a Peggy Lee, though the personal tragedy touched on in the liner notes suggests undercurrents to “The End Of A Love Affair.” The band are superbly professional, with a nice feature for trombonist Jeff Galindo and altoist Marc Phaneuf on “Broadway,” buoyant bop backdrops on “Just You, Just Me” and juicy old-school tenor solos from Arnie Krakowsky. —Michael Jackson


Boston Globe

Mingus-inspired septet are Marvels
By Steve Greenlee, Globe Staff, 6/6/2003

    Jazz has had several great composers -- Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Wayne Shorter -- but one of them made such an indelible mark on American music that he has inspired ensembles to play his material almost exclusively. The most obvious of these tribute groups is the Mingus Big Band, based in New York and run by Mingus's widow, Sue. But Boston has its own hail-to-Charles group, a septet called James Merenda's Masked Marvels.
    They aren't masked, but they sure are marvelous. The group plays Costello's every Sunday, and Wednesday night they played Ryles Jazz Club. The first set succeeded in cramming as much fun as possible into 60 minutes.
    The four horns were front and center -- Merenda's alto sax, Timo Shanko's tenor, Doug Olsen's trumpet, and Jeff Galindo's trombone -- but the rhythm section of pianist Art Bailey, bassist Jef Charland, and drummer Luther Gray was so fresh that an entire set from them would be enjoyable.
    The testosterone-laden horn playing, though, is what gives this group its identity. Opening with ''Tonight at Noon,'' they began with a honking, squealing storm that sounded like a rush-hour traffic jam, and then launched into what might be called ''Mingus on speed.'' Merenda bleated and then played melodically and then bleated some more during his solo.
    ''Peggy's Blue Skylight'' started with an unaccompanied solo by Merenda before the group entered with sass. ''Portrait'' featured the lovely, smooth vocals of Vanessa Morris, who sang the melody while Merenda improvised.
    Each of the musicians deserved praise, but extra credit is due Galindo for his crisp trombone -- he never even approached the mike, unlike most trombonists, who seem to need to get right up on the thing when they solo. Galindo instead played with power and laser-like precision.
    For all their individuality, it was the chemistry of these seven men that sent adrenaline coursing through our systems. It was evident not only on their spirited run through ''Boogie Stop Shuffle'' but also on the one non-Mingus tune of the set, Don Pullen's ''Saturday Night in the Cosmos,'' a jaunty, odd-metered number that sounded like funk-blues crossed with New Orleans jazz.

Signal to Noise

The Ghost Band from Signal to Noise (excerpted from the full festival review):

    "Alto player Jim Hobbs built up an ensemble of local ringers (Jason Hunter, tenor sax; Arnie Krakowsky, tenor sax, clarinet; Charlie Kohlhase, baritone saxophone; Greg Hopkins, trumpet; Jeff Galindo, Dave Harris, trombones; Bill Lowe, bass trombone, tuba; Pete Fitzpatrick, guitar; and Tatsuya Nakatani, percussion) around the core members of his Celebrated Orchestra (Taylor Ho Bynum, cornet; Timo Shanko, bass, and Django Carranza, percussion) for a set of rollicking big-band freedom. Hobbs put together quirky charts that combined hurtling riffs, slinking grooves, and contrapuntal, warped lines full of jazz voicings and rock energy and let the players rip. He provided just enough guidance to keep things from careening out of control, and the band tore into the pieces with a boisterous dynamism. There was liberal room for solos all around with plenty of vigorous blowing, particularly by the leader. MVP awards went to Shanko, who provided a stalwart anchor while whipping the music along with bass lines that caterwauled with vivacious swing, and Nakatani, whose splayed sense of free drive churned against Carranza's thundering rhythms, giving the music an edgy vivacity."

    - Michael Rosenstein, Signal to Noise Magazine, Winter 2002

Signal to Noise

The Lello Molinari Project
Cambridge, MA
October 2, 2001

    A Cd release party is undoubtedly an exciting occasion for a band, and the excitement was in the air as the Lello Molinari Project celebrated the release of Multiple Personalities. Molinari was joined by band members Marcello Pellitteri on drums, George Garzone on tenor saxophone, guitarist Mick Goodrick, vocalist Chiara Civello, pianist Frank Carlberg, and Jeff Galindo on trombone for an extended set that featured works from the current disk and included a surprise or two from earlier releases.
    A hallmark of the Lello Molinari Project is the use of intricate rhythms that increase in complexity as a piece progresses, and this was certainly the case during the Regattabar performance. Each musician in the group performs with an intensity that can best be described as frenetic assurance. The paces set by Molinari on bass and Pellitteri on drums are fast and furious, but the interplay among musicians makes it clear that the performance is an exercise in communication, resulting in a confident and smooth execution of each work. This interplay is one of the highlights of watching Molinari’s group in a live performance; it provides visual evidence of the aural cohesion that is created on their most recent disc.
    If one of the members of the Lello Molinari Project deserves to be singled out for an outstanding solo performance, it is trombonist Jeff Galindo’s work on “Nothing Cheap,” a track from the group second disk. Galindo demonstrated incredible energy, whether playing down and dirty in the instrument’s low range or in hitting the high notes that would seem high on a trumpet and damn near unattainable on the trombone. Galindo not only attains these notes – he holds them, he smears them, he bends the pitches, and then he does it all over again.     Garzone gradually invaded Galindo’s solo turf and performed a saxophone solo with a recurring riff reminiscent of Woody Woodpecker’s famous laugh – a reedy phrase that provided a perfect complement to Galindo’s solo work.
    The final half of the group’s set featured four tracks from Multiple Personalities. “Mardy Gras” is a quick example of everything that Molinari’s group does well. The opening is played so quickly that it aurally captures the spirit of Mardy Gras, complete with a swinging scat solo by Civello. Molinari’s bass solo harkens back to Civello’s phrasing, and the sound of the bass strings rattling against the bassboard echoed throughout the piece, which ended with each member of the group contributing to a very precise, controlled musical mayhem.
    Following the soulful Italian ballad “Malafemmena”, the project let loose with “Tarantella”, which has to be the closest the Regattabar will ever come to a folk festival in a small Italian piazza! The final work of the evening was “Invitation” – an aptly named work, since Molinari Invited each band member to perform one last solo during the piece, the impetus of which is a chromatic scale in the guitar.
    The Lello Molinari Project is as exciting in a live performance as it is on disk. Check out lellomolinari.com for information on upcoming performances, and give Multiple Personalities a listen for a preview of coming attractions.

    -Katie DeBonville

Cadence Magazine

Cadence Jazz Records / CJR 1118

    Already familiar with his work with the Either Orchestra, I am becoming increasingly impressed with Charlie Kohlhase's work as a leader. Two releases in particular, Life Overflowing with John Tchicai and You Start with Matt Langley, have allowed me insight into Kohlhase's saxophone playing in a smaller ensemble setting and more importantly, his capabilities as a composer. Kohlhase's latest, Congeniality, is a trio record with guitar and trombone (Mitch Seidman and Jeff Galindo respectively).
    I have listened to three dozen versions of Thelonious Monk's (and not including his own) "Misterioso" and without hesitation I recommend this one to even the die-hardest straight-aheaders due to its accessibility and panache. Galindo's plunger technique adds further volume and brilliance to the tune, making it the album's highlight. Julius Hemphill's "Pensive" gets treated with a saxophone/guitar/bone (in that order) intro that makes way for a remarkable alto solo from Kohlhase. Kohlhase's baritone and Galindo's trombone make for quite a pair on Albert Mangelsdorff's "A Certain Beauty," that is also intriguing for its subtle melody.
    Relatively a straight-ahead outing, Congeniality is a stark reminder of Kohlhase's rising star and commendable playing.

    - Fred Jung