New Recording: Loveliest



The Cool Players and The Cool Subs


Re-Birthing The Cool, Bebop N Beyond is, no doubt about it, the best little big band in the Portland area. “The Cool’s” personnel are made up of Portland’s very best, who play and write their rears off. In Re-Birthing The Cool, Bebop N Beyond, you’ll see men and women of all backgrounds, ages, and races coming together in harmony. We all share a deep love of jazz and we express ourselves using the international language of jazz, which knows no boundaries. This ensemble is respectful of our great musical heritage while providing space for new creation.  Jazz is a music on the move with innovation as a lifeblood to nourish its growth. This latest offering from the ensemble moves in a more contemporary direction, showing off original compositions and newer concepts.  Most of the composing and arranging credit for our material goes to the members of Rebirthing the Cool, Bebop N Beyond. This new album Loveliest is a product of the joy we feel playing this music together and for you, the audience. We hope it brings you joy as well.
Tracks 1, 4, 6, 8, and 10 of Loveliest were recorded in December of 2019 during the same session that produced the material for our first album The Ludlow Affair. The title track of the first album was written by bassist Ed Bennett, named for the street where he lived in Los Angeles, where a whole lot of swinging’ music happened! During the two-day recording session for The Ludlow Affair, the band also recorded plenty of bonus material, some of which is being released on Loveliest. These tracks were all recorded at Crossroads Studios and were engineered and mixed by Bob Stark.

Tracks 2, 3, 5, 7, and 9, were recorded at The Jazz Dungeon studios and were engineered and mixed by Pete Petersen. Recording and mixing of these tracks took place over the course of the summer of 2020.  

A large portion of this album was recorded while in quarantine during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. During the spring, summer, and fall of 2020, the world reeled from one of the deadliest and most contagious viruses humanity has seen in over 100 years. Spurred on by a need to keep creating during the pandemic, but at the same time hindered by the need to limit gatherings to small groups of people in a safe, socially-distant manner, the recording and production aspects of this album presented their share of technical challenges. Musicians came into the studio individually or in small numbers of two or three at a time in order to maintain a measure of safety. We started with a multitrack MIDI file of the arrangements played by software instruments, and as each musician came in to record their part, the computer-generated version of their part was muted while the rest of the tracks came through their headphones; in this way everyone was able to hear the full arrangement while playing their own part into the microphone one at a time. The album was then mixed in post-production to craft the illusion of a full band playing all at once. While pop and rock albums have utilized techniques similar to this for years, it is certainly not the norm for jazz, a genre which at its heart is all about the spontaneous living energy of interaction between all players creating the music collectively. We feel we have achieved a unique synergy that is, at least in part, a testament to the level of solid talent of all of the players as well as to the blend we have achieved playing together as a band for all these years. 

The title track, “Loveliest”, was written by Janie Henderson and Gary Lowery, Janie is a local Portland-area singer and friend of the band. Stan Bock’s lush arrangement is beautifully complemented by Alyssa Schwary-McDonald’s sultry vocals, creating a sensual, evocative palate that truly captures the intimacy of the lyrics. 

“Walkin’ Shoes” and “Budo” get back to the roots of the band’s namesake. Budo of course was originally recorded in 1949 by Miles Davis and Gil Evans as part of the Birth of the Cool sessions, and Walkin’ Shoes is an arrangement based on the Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker recording of 1952. 

“Miss Bea Goes to Tea” is an original composition by Stan Bock. The New Orleans-style second-line groove punctuated by the bass line doubled on tuba and bari sax in addition to the wood of Ed Bennett’s bass evokes images of a swingin’ Mardi Gras party vibe. 

David and Alyssa shine together on two duets on this album: The standard “It Don’t Mean a Thing (if it ain’t got that Swing)” and David’s original holiday-inspired song “His Happy Feeling.” The vocal chemistry between the two singers is magical and speaks to the fact that this band’s members all share a family-like conviviality with each other.

“Big Town” is a David Watson original lyric written over a melody penned by vibraphonist Joe Locke. A guest appearance by Brian Myers adds some Coltrane-ish lines to complement Watson’s lyrics about the burgeoning jazz scene in New York City in the 1950s. 

Alyssa brings to this album her mastery of several standards: Cole Porter’s “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” gets a hip mashup treatment with an arrangement by Tony Pacini and Pete Petersen that borrows heavily from Miles’s iconic recording of Dear Old Stockholm; Horace Silver’s tune “Nica’s Dream” soars over an energetic Latin groove; and Buddy Johnson’s “Save Your Love For Me” pays tribute to the famous Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley recording, adding a horn arrangement by Pete Petersen and a lyrical trombone solo by Stan Bock.

Perhaps one of the most beautifully evocative tracks on the entire album is David Watson’s original “Our Night in Heaven”. Watson shows his masterful ability to write lyrics that are intensely personal and, at the same time, ultimately relatable. The heartfelt tenor solo by Lee Wuthenow is an additional treat; Lee’s ballad playing is unmatched and he delivers here with his usual sublime sweetness. 

We hope you enjoy listening to Loveliest and may it bring you the same sense of joy and hope hearing it as we had creating it!

Notes by, 
David Watson, Rivkah Ross, Perry Thoorsell, Mary-Sue Tobin, Ed Bennett, and Pete Petersen.

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Listen to Sample Tracks

It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing

Ms Bea Goes To Tea

Walking Shoes

You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To


Nico’s Dream

Big Town

Our Night In Heaven


Save Your Love For Me

His Happy Feeling