"The Calling" is trumpeter Richard Boulger's first release. Originally released in 1999, the project also features trumpeter Eddie Henderson, Pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist
Reuben Rogers, drummer John Lamkin, saxophonist Kris Jensen, and vocalist Paulette Barnes.
Praise is a prayer to all of creation — it is a moment of highest thanks for all that has been given to us.
The Calling is written for the inner spirit which lies within all of us. We all have a calling in life — we merely have to listen.
Bishop's Corner is a tribute to the late, great jazz master Walter Bishop, Jr. Boulger had the privilege to sit with "Bish" in his apartment in New York City and discuss the many insights, musical and spiritual, that this great man had to offer. "Bish would be playing incredible things on the piano; he would incorporate intervals that most guys don't use today. He suddenly would stop and walk over to the window, view the city, and then recite his poetry. It was a very powerful, and moving experience." "Bishop's Corner" was penned while its subject was very much alive: for Bish, the prelude for trumpet and saxophone which introduces it, was written since his passing.
Song for Ennis was penned for the late Ennis Cosby, the son of Bill Cosby. Boulger recalls: "I remember waking up, anticipating my birthday, (January 17). I turned on the television and saw the tragic news. I never had the privilege of meeting Ennis, but felt a strong sense of loss. A few hours later, 'Song for Ennis' came to me."
Hub's Express was written for jazz trumpet great, Freddie Hubbard. Boulger met Hubbard when he came to Hartford in 1993: they have been in touch with each other ever since. "Freddie and I talk on the phone a lot — he has always been one of my heroes. Freddie has given me a lot of advice. I've played on the phone many times." After a few years of these 'phone lessons,' as well as a visit to Freddie's studio in Hollywood, Freddie recommended that Richard seek out Dr. Donald Byrd. "Freddie told me that my playing was going in another direction, and that he felt Donald could really guide me." So, with a recommendation from Freddie, Richard began his private studies with Byrd.
Byrd's Nest is a tribute to Dr. Donald Byrd, with whom Boulger worked closely. Richard recalls, "I had the chance to spend a year of my life sitting next to Donald. He greatly encouraged me and has had a profound influence on me. Donald is a brilliant individual. He is extremely diversified. Donald has always been on the cutting edge as an innovator, trumpeter, composer, as well as educator. Donald is constantly studying, searching for new insights — musical and otherwise." Boulger also shares this passion and is proud to be a protege of Byrd's. (He is currently studying with one of Donald's composition teachers, Ludmila Ulehla.)
Adam's Morning was written for Richard's young nephew. When the child was two, doctors found that Adam was hearing impaired. "When I heard the news from my sister, Carolyn, I was really upset! Imagine being hearing impaired and the people around you not even knowing. The doctors decided to go ahead with a procedure which would give him much of his hearing. I kept asking myself what it would be like to be able to suddenly hear clearly after two years of muffled sound. I awoke the next morning at 4:30 with the whole song in my head. I wrote it down as fast as I could." Richard makes a habit of keeping paper and pencil next to his bed, as many of his compositions are given to him while he is sleeping.
Cosmic Interplay is a tune that came to Richard while he was reading Carl Sagan's Cosmos, a book J.O. Spaak had brought to his attention. It incorporates many wide intervals not normally heard in jazz compositions. It features the rhythm section of Ranaan Meyers, Brian Pearl, and Dan Weiss.
Stairway to the Stars is presented in tribute to astronomer/educator/humanist Carl Sagan (1934-1996). CD co-producer J.O. Spaak's arrangement features an introduction which traces the evolution of the universe from the violence of the "Big Bang" to the relative harmony of the celestial workings we perceive today. The actual standard, a popular song from decades ago, is presented in a light-hearted manner to evoke the joy of acquiring knowledge (one might even dare say, "the romance of science") that Dr. Sagan sought to share with the general public.
A New Horizon is one of the first compositions Boulger conceived while working closely with Donald Byrd. It was inspired by a sunrise while looking out over Spuyten Duyvil, where the Hudson and Harlem rivers come together, in January, 1996.
Please Send Me Someone to Love, written by Percy Mayfield, (arranged here by Kris Jensen), was suggested for inclusion by J.O. Spaak which touches on philosophical themes Mr. Boulger is concerned with. This marks the professional recording debut of Ms. Paulette Barns on vocals.
Hope is "the end of the beginning" of a long path we all walk together. Despite the pain, fear, loss, and senseless acts of cruelty that we may encounter, we must all continue to travel down our own paths, listening for our calling, and must always have hope.