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Tolliver's Big Band Fires on 'All Cylinders'

When trumpeter Charles Tolliver talks about his high-octane big band, he uses phrases like, "The key is in the ignition; we're ready to go!" It's a perfect connection to the theme behind the Detroit International Jazz Festival: "Music on All Cylinders."

Tolliver's career reads like a who's-who of the jazz world. Saxophonist Jackie McLean used Tolliver's "Right Now" on the 1965 album of the same name. And in the late '60s, Tolliver played alongside two all-time jazz greats, Horace Silver and Max Roach.

In 1970, Tolliver and pianist Stanley Cowell started their own label, Strata-East, and proved that "you could actually do something which was really professional without having to go through all that artist-under-contract stuff," Tolliver says. "It mushroomed to the point where we had about 50 LPs."

A few years ago, when a young trumpeter named David Weiss asked Tolliver about his big-band music from the Strata-East era, he answered, "It's collecting dust." So they shook off that dust with two Charles Tolliver Big Band nights at the Jazz Standard in New York — and cut the Grammy-nominated album With Love.

Originally recorded at the Detroit International Jazz Festival on Labor Day Weekend, 2007.


Thanks to the festival's executive and artistic director, Terri Pontremoli, for making outdoor music happen in Detroit. Recording engineer is Timothy Powell of Metro Mobile in Chicago.

Copyright 2008 WBGO