Over the years, I’ve been approached by literally thousands of trumpet players wanting feedback or advice, or just to wish me well and tell me how much they’ve enjoyed my music. I’ve always appreciated the support and offered what advice I could. But few of these individuals have made an impact on me in return like Richard Boulger. Richard has shown me a devotion to learning all he can about his instrument, and has spent a lot of time with me in pursuit of knowledge about the trumpet and "this music we endeavor to play called jazz" (to quote one of my favorite Art Blakey sayings).
I first met Richard after aperformance in Hartford,Ct in themid 90's where Boulger was a student at The Jackie Mclean Institute of Jazz. Soon after we began to talk often on the phone about trumpet playing and music in general, sharing ideas and exchanging stories. He also came out to Los Angeles a couple of times to study with me. To encourage him further, I sent him to study with Donald Byrd. Richard has great chops and facility on the horn and is an impassioned improviser. He has also shown great growth as a composer since his debut recording “The Calling” (B-1/Chartmaker music 1999). His compositions here remind me a lot of the finer modal compositions I heard in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. There seems to be a strong Coltrane influence in his playing and I also hear perhaps a little late Lee Morgan or Billy Harper as well as a little of my own writing style in his tunes. This is best exemplified in the title track, “Blues Twilight”. It’s a powerful tune, right at home with the best from that era.
Like many smart bandleaders, Richard has called on many first-rate musicians to help him realize his vision. I met the late John Hicks in New York when he recorded the Art Blakey record Soulfinger with me. He immediately impressed me, and I thought he sounded like Cedar Walton, soulful and with a lot of feeling. John Hicks was a beautiful human being and a very accomplished musician, and also a very good friend. I can’t believe he’s gone. The jazz world has lost another legend and he will be deeply missed.
I first heard saxophonist David Schnitter with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. I thought he sounded great and wondered how such a little guy could get such a huge sound. I later hired him for my band and took him out with me on some tours. He’s on a live record of mine recorded at the Northsea Jazz Festival in 1980. He’s an excellent musician and knows a lot about the music. I’ve done some playing with Victor Jones and always felt he was one of the best drummers around. His solo on “Have You Met Mr. Jones” is truly a classic. The solo is well thought out and features his tremendous technique. I’m not that familiar with Dennis Irwin’s work but his performance on this CD is everything you can hope for from a bass player, a solid foundation and beautiful lines. Anthony Wonsey is one of the finest up and coming young pianists out here today. He toured Europe with me with The New Jazz Composers Octet a few years back and still does some gigs with me. He has great respect for his elders and the lineage of great jazz pianists. He also has great respect for the groove, an important aspect of any accomplished pianist working in this genre.
So here you have Richard Boulger’ssecond recording as a leader. I am very happy and honored to be a witness to a great trumpet player. Richard Boulger's Blues Twilight hasencouraged and inspired me to play again, and I’m very proud of him. I hope you all enjoy it as well.
Los Angeles, California