Detroiter Scott Gwinnell tops "Sweet 16"

Jan 31, 2013

Scott Gwinnell at the piano
Scott Gwinnell at the piano
Credit jazzcafedetroit.com

What a way to celebrate the launch of a new label and a new concept in jazz!  Pianist/composer/arranger Scott Gwinnell’s tribute to heart of Detroit –The Cass Corridor – was the most-played CD on WEMU from January 21st through the 27th.   “The Cass Corridor Story” is also the first release on the new imprint from Mack Avenue Records, Detroit Music Factory.  WEMU has been a strong supporter of Scott Gwinnell for years, so we knew to expect great things from him, but this heart-felt original music exceeded our expectations!

This is Scotts’ most personal and autobiographical recording.  The “Cass Corridor Suite” which makes up the bulk of the disc traces his musical evolution: from young dues-paying musician and student to professional pianist, composer and arranger.  His music evokes the singular feel of this rich and varied neighborhood.  But, the music also evokes universal themes of personal struggle and accomplishment. 

Scott Gwinnell chose his musicians well:  Scott Cowan is the trumpeter, James Hughes and Carl Cafagna are the saxophonists, Andrew Kratzat is the bassist, Scott Kretzer is the drummer and the late Brad Felt plays euphonium on three selections.  This was the last recording Brad Felt made before his sudden death and the last recording for Andrew Kratzat before his unfortunate automobile accident.  Both players were in great form and if you needed any additional inspiration to add “Cass Corridor Story” to your collection, it would be to hear these two musicians at the top of their game.  Gwinnell himself is also at the top of his game.  His touch is light but lively.  His “comping skills” (playing behind soloists) are first-rate.  This is ensemble jazz of the highest order and has WEMU’s highest recommendation.

WEMU’s SWEET SIXTEEN January 21 to January 27, 2013

1. SCOTT GWINNELL  “Cass Corridor Story”  (Detroit Music Factory)
2. BEN HARPER WITH CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE   “Get Up!”  (Stax Records)
3. JOSE JAMES   “No Beginning No End”   (Blue Note Records)
4. AARON NEVILLE  “My True Story”  (Blue Note Records)
5. ORGANISSIMO " Dedicated" (Big O Records)
6. AGUANKO   “Elemental”  (PKO Records)
7. ROBBEN FORD  “Bringing It Back Home”  (Provogue)
8. MENAHAN STREET BAND  "The Crossing"  (Dunham Records)
9. LARY BARILLEAU & THE LATIN JAZZ COLLECTIVE “Carmen’s Mambo”  (OA2 Records)
10. JOHNNY CONGA "Oye" (Hand to Drum Productions)
11. DOUG DEMING & THE JEWEL TONES  "What's it Gonna Take" (Vizztone)
12. REBECCA COUPE FRANKS  “Two Oceans”  (www.rcoupefranks.com )
13. DIANA KRALL  “Glad Rag Doll”   (Verve)
14. BETTYE LAVETTE "Thankful 'n' Thoughtful" (ANTI-)
15. BEX MARSHALL "The House of Mercy" (www.bexmarshall.co.uk)
16. CHRIS MCNULTY   “The Songs That Sing You Here”  (Challenge Records)

~Compiled by Patrick Holubik and Linda Yohn