CARL RIGOLI NEW PASSAGES LINER NOTES While vibraphonists tend to be among the most popular of jazz musicians (does anyone in the world actually hate the sound of the vibes?), the number of significant jazz vibraphonists is relatively few. Lionel Hampton largely introduced the instrument to jazz in the 1930s, Red Norvo switched from xylophone in 1943, Milt Jackson and Terry Gibbs brought the vibes into bebop, Cal Tjader made the vibraphone part of Latin jazz, and Gary Burton and Bobby Hutcherson have been part of a countless number of projects since the 1960s. Today, even counting Gibbs, Burton and Hutcherson, there are still just a handful of major vibraphonists. Carl Rigoli, based and best known in the Los Angeles area, is definitely on that list. And with the music of New Passages serving as evidence, he is obviously a talented songwriter too. As with many of the vibraphonists, the vibes was not Carl's first instrument. "I started playing drums when I was three. My Dad loved big bands and had a lot of records, so I would play along with Tommy Dorsey." He knew early on that he wanted to be a musician and was playing professionally at 16. By the time he attended the Manhattan School of Music, Carl had switched his focus to the vibes since he wanted to play melodies, but his training on percussion proved to be a major asset in his studio work. After graduating he worked in clubs, in shows and in the New York studios. Since moving to Los Angeles in 1970, he has continued his busy career, which includes teaching, performing with the big bands of Dave Angel and Pat Longo, working in television and motion pictures, and leading his own jazz combos in clubs. Carl Rigoli has known the other players on New Passages for at least 25 years. In fact, of the seven previous CDs that Carl has recorded for his Carmelo label, pianist John Rodby is on all of them, bassist Richard Maloof is on six (all but the vibes-piano duet set Easy Street), drummer Mark Stevens appears on five (all but Pasquale Square which features Carl on drums and Harmonious Combustion) and saxophonist David Angel (who appears on half of New Passages) is on three. "These are all studio musicians who are also brilliant jazz players. They can play anything and there is no ego involved." The familiarity of the old friends with each other has fortunately not led to complacency. In fact, the leader's stimulating originals inspire the musicians to play at their most creative throughout this memorable project. New Passages begins with "Swaure Nodar," an excellent introduction to the quintet. After the melody statement with David Angel's soprano and Carl's vibes in the lead, the tune becomes a surprising vibes-piano duet. After that section, each of the players other than Mark Stevens has an opportunity to solo as the rhythm section cooks. "New Passages" was inspired by the travels and adventures of Carl's son during a six-month period in Central and South America. The piece has a slightly mysterious Latin feel but, atmosphere aside, it's chord structure inspires energetic vibes and piano solos. Be sure to notice the stimulating accompaniment and commentary provided by Maloof throughout. "Mr. Hatch," which is named after one of Carl Rigoli's most important vibraphone teachers, is a warm ballad that features the mellow tenor and melodic playing of David Angel. "Freely Please" features the musicians (the quartet without Angel) stretching out and swinging on a medium-tempo minor blues. Carl wrote "Sir Rodby" for his longtime pianist. This piece, which showcases Rodby (accompanied tastefully by the vibraphonist), is sophisticated and haunting. The one original on this set that was not written by Carl is Rodby's "Diminished Capacity." This driving piece has heated solos by vibes, bass and piano (plus a fine vibes-piano duet) that hide the fact that the chord sequence is complex and challenging. Finishing the highly enjoyable outing is "Mr. Riggs," which has the vibes in the forefront performing the hummable and thoughtful melody When asked why he plays jazz as opposed to other styles of music, Carl Rigoli simply replies, "I love the spontaneity of jazz and having a constant musical discussion with the other musicians, especially players of this caliber." Lovers of the jazz vibes and jazz's modern mainstream in general will find a great deal to enjoy about New Passages, a strong sampling of 21st century jazz performed by some of the finest musicians around today. Scott Yanow, Author of ten jazz books including The Jazz Singers, Jazz On Film, Trumpet Kings and Jazz On Record 1917-76.