Primary Instrument: Composer/conductor
The Saltman Knowles Quintet is a shining example of the tradition in jazz for long-term artist collaborations. This Washington DC group is known for serving up melodically alluring while rhythmically infectious music with a sincere and emotional collection of songs. Bassist Mark Saltman and pianist William Knowles, the leaders of this seamless blending of sounds, met while attending the composition program at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and created a musical bond with similar affections for the music of Billy Strayhorn, Horace Silver, Cedar Walton and Charles Mingus.
The new release, Return of the Composer exemplifies the cohesive unit created with a strong underlying foundation, interesting melodic lines, spirited rhythms and superlative musicianship. With four CDs under their belt the group decided to continue their journey into creative musical explorations by including the soulful sounds of vocalist Lori William- Chisholm in a more unconventional way. The use of the voice as an instrumental texture executing complex melodies while avoiding the cliché of standard vocal presentations is the icing on the cake of this delicious voyage of musical expression. The compelling clarity of Lori’s vocals add to the rich spirit of this CD that includes drummer Jimmy Junebug Jackson, alto sax player Rob Landham and trumpeter Alvin Trask who provide a lush array of musical brilliance to this solid mix.
According to Saltman Knowles What makes this record different sound wise is the use of vocalese (using the voice as another instrument). We're lucky in the sense that we can have both an instrumental sound like a straight swinging quintet as well as a vocal sound. The music we write is melodic, harmonically dense, and swinging. Often our music is a sketch of personal situations in our lives or of those friends who are close to us. Music is our way of commenting about life.
Mark Saltman always wanted to join his stepbrother, Steve, every time he played the drums in their basement. Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut he grew up with a father who listened to jazz, which helped to influence Mark’s future passion for playing bass. My Father, who Return of the Composer is partly for, used to have a big Jazz collection. He was into Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Brubeck and some West Coast like Shorty Rogers. I used to listen to his records and I kind of knew the song Take 5 but I really started to dig it when I heard Al Jarreau's version of it. His next big influence was the great American jazz multi-instrumentalist, composer and educator, Dr. Yusef Lateef whom Mark met while attending the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Dr. Lateef helped Mark form his unique musical ideas and concepts by encouraging him to find his own sound within. Eventually he did a recording with Dr. Lateef entitled CHNOPS Gold +Soul. I spent a lot of time with Dr. Yusef Lateef when I was up at the University of Massachusetts. I was supposed to have an hour lesson, but if the people after me didn't show up it would go on for a long time. I think the record was six hours straight. We used to talk about all kinds of things including music, religion, and politics. He is Muslim and I am Jewish, so we really went into the whole religious thing. It was totally respectful and incredibly enlightening. While at Hartt school Mark had the opportunity to study with Jackie McClean for a year, along with a couple of other great musicians, Midge Pike and Salvatore Macchia on the bass and Richie Hartt whom Mark refers to as a great guitar player. His desire to compose manifested at an early age from an intuitive reaction to a frustrating childhood but it helped him to fill the gap and ultimately became the focus of his life. These deep experiences opened Mark up to the intricate and haunting melodies of many unique jazz masters. From a composition standpoint I really like Billy Strayhorn, Sting and Horace Silver. Strayhorn was a master at beautiful melodies and harmonic interest; I mean just listen to a song like My Little Brown Book. Sting I love because he is a supposed pop artist but look at how sophisticated his music is not to mention brilliant lyrics. And Horace Silver really brought the music forward with different feels while still using great chord changes. Besides his dedication to the Saltman Knowles Quintet, Mark is an educator in the Washington DC schools and likes exploring the relationship between sound and color in the study of Synaesthesia.
William Knowles was born in Milwaukee Wisconsin where as a young boy he banged on his great grandmother’s piano so much that she finally gave it to his mother for him to play at home. His passion for piano still hasn’t ended. With two older famous cousins in jazz, John and Jeff Clatyon, it is no surprise that William seized the music gene and became interested in jazz at a young age. His determination to make music his career took him to Howard University to study jazz and he continued his education with graduate work in composition at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst where he first met and collaborated with Mark Saltman. William studied with Stanley Cowell and was personally inspired by Cedar Walton, Danillo Perez, Harold Mabern, Tommy Flanagan, and Hank Jones. What impressed me about all of these players is their writing and choice of well written tunes. I also love Hank and Tommy's touch and harmonic sense while Mabern makes the modal thing make sense. Besides his dedication to the Saltman Knowles Quintet, William contributes his pianistic talents to the theater community in such shows as: Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Ain't Misbehavin, All Night Strut, Dinah Was, King of Cool and Tambourines to Glory. He has composed and arranged music for Slam, Pearl Bailey, Jazz Royalty, and Cool Papa's Party. I love being a part of a team of artists and telling a great story.
Saltman Knowles Quintet have been together for quite some time winding a path with various like minded musicians including saxophonist, Charles Langford and drummer, Mark Prince. Since their first introduction in their college days Mark and William have been creating compositions that express their musical philosophies. The bond that binds the two is their mutual hunger for melodic content woven within a tapestry of harmonic emotional patterns. It all starts with a singable melody because without that there is no glue. Then, we like to do something that sounds harmonically unique but has a groove. We like to write things that evoke very strong feelings. They both reside in Washington, a lively, culturally rich area with a number of clubs, venues, and theaters. Besides producing three CDs with Soulservice including Stop, Look and Listen, Dream Catcher and Sandcastles their last release, It’s About the Melody received excellent reviews and introduced the soulful appeal of vocalist Lori Williams. Saltman and Knowles spent time as artists in residence for the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, received two grants from the DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities and won the Best International Jazz song in 2007 from Toronto Exclusive Magazine. The new release, Return of the Composer, continues the ascent of musical excellence for this artistically original Quintet.
DreamCatcher - CAP
Sandcastles - CAP
Its About The Melody - Blue Canoe
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