Cezanne presents Larry Slezak Organ Band. Larry Slezak-saxophone, Clayton Dyess-guitar, Jose-Miguel Yamal-organ, Joe Slezak-drums.
Larry Slezak is one of Houston’s great jazz saxophonists, not to mention the country’s… But outside of well-known jazz venues in the southwest, he has seldom been heard in the greater CD audience of today, a loss to jazz fans everywhere. This album NO WORRIES introduces you at long last to his versatility, expressive ideas, energy and mastery on the saxophone, interpreting tunes new and old. Larry and his musical friends have laid down some great tracks, and you are about to share some inspired jazz phrasing, exciting musical colors, and a full range of technical virtuosity by a talented group of soloists.
Born and bred in NYC, Larry played with many R&B groups over the years, including Roy Eldridge, Arnett Cobb, Marv Stamm, Bill Watrous, Ed Shaughnessy, Bob Florence, Don Menza, Hank Crawford, Elvin Jones, King Curtis and others. In Houston since 1973, he has been prominent in the local jazz scene. However, his versatility has extended to Theatre UnderThe Stars orchestra in Houston, accompanying the finest of Broadway stars, and to playing for headliners such as Sammy Davis, Jr., Robert Goulet, Lou Rawls, Dionne Warwick, Nancy Wilson, Mel Torme, Johnny Mathis, Liza Minelli, Burt Bacharach and Tony Bennett. When not playing for these, he has proven himself a favorite in the classical arena for The Houston Symphony and Houston Grand Opera.
Larry brings this wealth of experience to his first CD, NO WORRIES. We are treated to extraordinary musicianship derived from his musical past, intertwined with touches from the musical greats mentioned above.
When this project first began, I listened to Larry’s excitement at the opportunity to showcase his band members. Most obvious was the caring Larry had for each of his fellow musicians and his/her solo ability. Each player is provided with featured moments on this CD unselfishly, which was a beautiful thing to experience. Slezak had pride in their musicianship and praised their session work on numerous occasions.
There are new tunes on the CD that will demand you to listen to them again and again: ‘NO WORRIES’ by Larry Slezak,’ DISTANT HARMONY’ by Jose Miguel Yamal, ‘ FLOATIN’ by Bernie Hatch and Houston Vibraphonist Tom Cummings’ ‘MAYBE BY TOMORROW. These new tunes mesh well with the standards.
Two other special performers contributed favorably to the success of this CD. These were Dennis Dotson (trumpet), a Woody Herman ex of many tours, and band vocalist, Sheri Lavo. Dennis was just full of great jazz ideas. In a recent interview, he expressed his deep respect for jazz greats Clifford Brown, Bill Evans and John Coltrane. Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis were cited as important giants that affected his trumpet playing, along with the BeBop era. Dennis loves ‘natural’ sound combined with great musical ideas, and these came through on the cuts ‘DISTANT HARMONY’ and ‘NO WORRIES’. It was an instant musical marriage between Larry and Dennis on these challenging tunes. Other special moments came from beautiful ballad renditions provided by Sheri Lavo on the cuts ‘WEE SMALL HOURS’ and ‘CRY ME A RIVER’. Her lovely voice draws you into the great and sensitive lyrics of both songs.
Both energetic and beautiful, the keyboard solos came from the creativity of Jose Miguel Yamal on the B3 Organ and the piano. Clayton Dyess communicates well, and added his exceptional musical thoughts on the guitar. His always ‘tasty’ ideas set the right moods for the moment. The rhythm section of Joe Slezak on drums and Thomas Helton on bass kept things tight and interesting as they blended with horns and piano.
If you are a lover of ballads then you are in luck, as the incredible soulful playing by Slezak on ‘YOU’VE CHANGED’, ‘GIRL TALK’ and ‘YOUNG AND FOOLISH’ will have you gasping for breath. The string arrangements of Bernie Hatch provide a wonderfully rich support for these ballads and the vocals of Ms. Lavo. The standard cuts of ‘HOW ABOUT YOU’ and ‘SECRET LOVE’ are just dizzy-fingered icing on Larry’s cake. In these cuts as well as in ‘CHICO AND THE MAN’, Slezak shows off his fabulous technique on tenor and soprano sax.
Larry Slezak has presented here a jazz CD with something for everyone. These final resulting ‘takes’ will delight all jazz aficionados and professionals. You should have ‘no worries’, as you are about to be entertained by the musical magic of Larry Slezak and his saxophone artistry.
And me? I’m the Producer and got to conduct old friend Bernie Hatch’s wonderful string background arrangements, so I’m the perfect person to say: Just sit back and listen and be prepared to be amazed… Robert Linder