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Mel Martin and Bebop and Beyond: Friends and Mentors

For two decades San Francisco tenorist/ sopranoist Mel Martin and his Bebop and Beyond have promoted the compositions of such stellar figures as Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Tadd Dameron, Charles Mingus and the timeless Benny Carter through fresh arrangements of the composers’ works. In fact, Martin enlisted Gillespie himself to participate in a recording of his music that turned out to be the trumpeter’s last studio recording. The group’s latest release, Friends and Mentors (Quixotic), takes a different tack, however. This time the compositions and arrangements are all Martin’s own, written in tribute to “the great masters that have influenced [the band’s] music”-Duke Ellington, Carter, Mingus, McCoy Tyner, Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard and John Coltrane. Martin’s well-crafted arrangements provide a launching pad for first-class contributions by the saxophonist himself, as well as by altoist Bobby Watson, trumpeter Jack Walrath, pianists Mike Longo or George Cables, bassist Ray Drummond and drummers Billy Hart or Winard Harper, several of whom worked with one or another of the greats being honored.

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