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Chris Vadala: “Out of the Shadows”

(Art of Life AL1031-2)

Digital Downloads | About the Music | Liner Notes | Selected Quotations

Chris Vadala: "Out of the Shadows"

Chris Vadala: soprano, alto, tenor and
baritone saxophones, flute, alto flute,
clarinet and bass clarinet
Mark Cook: keyboards
Steve Fidyk: drums
Pepe Gonzalez: acoustic bass

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Out of the Shadows
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Club Contrafact
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Waltz for Chris' Kids
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Sticks
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Little Sunflower
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In a Sentimental Mood
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Sambelissa
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Quintessence
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Footprints
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Shadows Coda
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About the Music {top}

Art of Life Records is proud to welcome saxophonist & woodwind artist Chris Vadala to its roster of recording artists which includes saxophonists Bob Mintzer, Denis DiBlasio, Tubby Hayes and Ryan Oliver. Joining Chris on "Out of the Shadows" are Mark Cook on keyboards, Steve Fidyk on drums and Pepe Gonzalez on acoustic bass. Best known for his long tenure with the Chuck Mangione Quartet, Mr. Vadala's debut recording features music written by Cannonball Adderley ("Sticks"), Freddie Hubbard ("Little Sunflower"), Duke Ellington ("In a Sentimental Mood"), Quincy Jones ("Quintessence") & Wayne Shorter ("Footprints") in addition to three original compositions, "Out of the Shadows", "Club Contrafact" and "Shadows Coda".

One of the country's foremost woodwind artists, Chris Vadala is in demand as a Jazz/Classical performer and educator. He has appeared on more than ninety recordings to date as well as innumerable jingle sessions, film and TV scores performing on all the saxophones, flutes and clarinets. A native of Poughkeepsie, New York he graduated from the Eastman School of Music earning the honor of the Performer's Certificate in saxophone as well as a B.M. in Music Education and received an M.A. in clarinet from Connecticut College. His teachers have included William Osseck of the Rochester Philharmonic, renowned classical saxophonist Donald Sinta and jazz great Phil Woods.

Professor Vadala is currently Director of Jazz Studies and Professor of Saxophone at the University of Maryland, College Park. Previous academic appointments include teaching studio woodwinds and conducting Jazz ensembles at Montgomery College, Connecticut College and Hampton University, as well as serving as Visiting Associate Professor of Saxophone at the Eastman School of Music. He is also President of the Maryland Unit of the International Association of Jazz Educators.

Mr. Vadala's performing career has been highlighted by a long tenure as standout woodwind artist with the internationally recognized Chuck Mangione Quartet which included performances around the world and performing credits on five gold and two platinum albums, plus one Emmy and two Grammy Awards. As one of The Selmer Company's most requested clinicians, Mr. Vadala travels worldwide performing with and conducting student and professional Jazz ensembles, symphonic bands and orchestras. Within just the past few years alone he has appeared at over 200 high schools and colleges across the nation and Canada!

Mr. Vadala's column on woodwind doubling appears regularly in Saxophone Journal and he has authored articles for many other magazines. He has been a Downbeat magazine poll finalist in four categories, the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Study grant and has published a number of original compositions and arrangements. His book, "Improve Your Doubling", published by Dorn productions is acclaimed as a valuable addition to woodwind literature.

Liner Notes {top}

This recording is dedicated to Kath, my biggest believer and confidant and to my wonderful family for its continued support throughout my many musical journeys. Special thanks go to Chris Kaplan and USRoots for taking the big step forward on this project, Paul G. Kohler and Art of Life Records for taking over this project and continuing to make it available to listeners and to Mark, Pepe and Steve for being such great musical contributors and sidekicks.

Selected Quotations {top}

This is Mr. Vadala's first album, originally appearing on a small independent label, US Roots, which got limited distribution. Now Art of Life, eight years later, has re-issued the recording for, hopefully, a wider audience. The liner notes are sparse and don't give a hint of the extraordinary credentials that those four men possess for playing jazz. Nor do the notes reveal that three of them are heavy into college level music/jazz education.

Chris, the leader, is one of the country's leading woodwind artists and has appeared on over 100 recordings as well as innumerable jingles and film and TV scores. This includes thirteen albums with various Chuck Manigone configurations between 1970 and 1988, with such interesting titles as Tarantella, Journey to a Rainbow, Save Tonight For Me, Eyes of the Veiled Temptress, and Live at the Village Gate. He's also performed/recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Herbie Hancock, Phil Woods, Joe Lovano, and others. His day job is even more impressive, he's the Director of Jazz Studies and Saxophone Professor at the University of Maryland.

His main man on keyboards, Dr. Mark Andrew Cook, is also connected to academe; he was the Director of Jazz Studies at Shepherd University, but now serves as its Director of Music Theory and Composition as well as being on the Jazz Faculty. He plays trumpet, flugel horn, cornet, and piano, the horns mostly with classical groups and piano with jazz ones. He co-leads his own group, Set Theory, with drummer Marty Knepp. They have a CD out, Prime Form, that's received critical acclaim.

Pepe Gonzalez, self taught on acoustic and electric bass, has performed nationally and internationally for the past 25 years with many legendary artists. He leads the Pepe Gonzalez Band, a Latin-edged contemporary jazz ensemble. In addition to being on this album, he's on six other recordings with Washington DC/Maryland based jazz units.

Drummer Steve Fidyk, other than having a last name that cries to be changed to Smith, Jones, or Davis, is also pursuing an active career in both academe and the jazz world. He's taught at Wilkes University, St. Mary's College of Maryland, George Mason University, the University of Maryland, and is currently adjunct professor of Percussion at Temple University in Philadelphia. In jazz, he co-leads the excellent Taylor/Fidyk Big Band with Stan Kenton arranger Mark Taylor and is currently the drummer with the Army Blues Jazz Ensemble from Washington DC, wearing Master Sargent stripes on their engagements and sometimes leading the group.

The title track, "Out of the Shadowas", is all Vadala on tenor, with the rest ticking behind him. It's more tone poem than a stylized swinging piece, with everyone doing their thing. This is one of three originals by Chris and obviously designed to highlight his beautiful tone and improvisation skills. Still on tenor and playing another of his originals, Chris leads the charge on "Club Contrafact", followed by Cook stroking a bit and then returns to wail again.

Now on alto flute, Vadala tip toes into Mike Cook's original, "Waltz for Chris' Kids", with Cook melodic, dreamy and tumbling on keyboards and Fidyk providing delicate support, webby and soft. Nice touches. Switching to alto, Chris punches up Adderley's "Sticks", paving the way for an extended solo by Cook who leaves plenty of holes for Fidyk to fill. On "Little Sunflower", he plays flute, airy and dancing, that flutters over an infectious Latin carpet laid down by Fidyk. You can also hear two other reeds shading the flue solo, the results of some tasteful over tracking by Vadala, probably with additional clarinet and flute lines.

Both "In A Sentimental Mood" and "Footprints" find Vadala on soprano. "Mood" is one of the highlights of the album's well structured, pure horn and lush melody for awhile, and then Cook solos with grace and deliberation, moving easily, until Chris returns. "Footprints" has Fidyk delivering a pulsing, exotic percussion introduction, joined by Cook and then Valada. Driven by the Latin tinged pulses of Fidyk, Cook turns in some heavily accented keyboard while Vadala and Fidyk swap some sound to end the piece.

On "Sambelissa", Vadala returns on alto, warm and intense, soloing against a busy Latin background It also features some inventive Cook, bass bits by Pepe one of the few times you can clearly hear him, and a intricate solo by Fidyk. With Vadala still on alto, the group plays the Quincy Jones ballad "Quintessence", Chris in fine form, Cook bendy and filling in, and Pepe's bass poking through. The last cut, "Shadows Coda", is the only one with Vadala on clarinet, lacy and pensive, with Cook making choir like sounds in the background. It's so well done that you regret Vadala didn?t play more clarinet in the album.
Bob Reny - IAJRC

Chris Vadala plays just about every popular reed instrument on his debut recording as a leader. Having worked extensively with flugelhornist Chuck Mangione, one might expect a more contemporary jazz session, but Vadala begins with a slow blues "Out of the Shadows" that finds him clearly in the John Coltrane camp on tenor. Another original, "Club Contrafact," is a burning workout, with pianist Mark Cook switching to organ. He also explores music by past greats, including a brisk run with his wailing alto sax in Cannonball Adderley's seldom played blues "Sticks" (where he also overdubs baritone), along with a breezy flute feature in Freddie Hubbard's "Little Sunflower" (where he also dubs several different instruments behind the lead voice). He switches to soprano for a heartfelt interpretation of Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood," giving it a bit of wistful air by opening the piece unaccompanied. Pepe Gonzales' exotic Latin percussion sets up the novel treatment of Wayne Shorter's modal masterpiece "Footprints," with Vadala making a belated entrance after the rest of the band, playing very subtly on soprano. It's a shame that it took Chris Vadala so long to record on his own, but this excellent effort will likely open more opportunities for him to work as a leader.
Ken Dryden - All Music Guide

There is never any doubt that this is Vadalas session. One of the countrys foremost woodwind artists, will add a certain sparkle to an already shining reputation. Chris Vadala has taken songs that have survived over the years and presents them with a lyrical passion that is as old as, in some cases as the songs themselves, but also fresh and now. You will get so involved listening in to "Out of the Shadows" that you will not want it to end.
Tony Mowad - Pittsburgh Jazz Society

As the woodwind guru of the acclaimed Chuck Mangione Band for years, Chris Vadala has truly developed a great reputation. He is currently a Professor at the University of MD, an in-demand clinician for the Selmer Co., and an absolutely outstanding person. The versatility that Mr. Vadala brings to the table on this album is remarkable. His sound, especially on the sax (alto/tenor/and soprano), is truly an example of mastering one's instrument. After having the pleasure of meeting him at clinic's for my high school jazz band, and hearing this man play, I recommend this album without reservation. You will not be disapointed... that is, if you love and appreciate great music!
Paul Latanishen - Dundalk, Maryland

This is not a CD, it is a "performance" that you wished would never end. Mr. Vadala does it all on Tenor, Alto, Soprano, and Flute, from Original to Classic Jazz, and if he isn't blowing you away, he's breaking your heart. The first cut, "Out of the Shadows," written by Chris Vadala, involves some wonderful haunting instrumentalism and a lot of fresh ideas, all of which bring you in to the performance itself. "Club Contrafact" is just awesome. The flute pieces are are a great surprise, too, and contribute to defining the mood of this, at times, very intimate performance. Many times "backup" just gets lost, but Mr. Vadala brings it out in this CD in a way that makes every one brighter and real. He plays some very well known and truly wonderful pieces, and makes them all new again and better, if that is possible. "In a Sentimental Mood" is a favorite that Mr. Vadala transcends with his clarity and emotion. There is a style here that, for the lack of a better word, "pulses" as it pierces your heart, and then, he takes you for a dance in "Sambelissa" that is filled with passion, the kind of passion that he brings to this entire album. "Quintessence" is, possibly, the best piece, but "Footprints" fits Mr. Vadala's shoes perfectly. He is an absolutely brilliant instrumentalist and Jazz person. "Shadows Coda" asks you back, even though one didn't want to leave.
Reuben Ryder - Cornwall, New York



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