Lori Mechem leads her swinging rhythm section through some of the Count Basie Orchestra’s greatest arrangements.
Jazz Educator Celebrates CD Release
By Ron Wynn, October 15, 2003
The Lori Mechem Quartet will be playing selections from the new CD Shiny Stockings at a CD release party tonight beginning at 7 p.m. The event is being held at the Nashville Jazz Workshop, 1312 Adams Street, 242-5299. There is no charge.Nashville Jazz Workshop co-founder Lori Mechem has spent so much time over the past few years teaching and assisting numerous other area musicians with their various projects she hadn’t taken time to do her own release. But Mechem has now remedied that situation with a strong new disc Shiny Stockings: The Lori Mechem Quartet Plays Count Basie.
The CDs formal release is being celebrated tonight in a special event at the Nashville Jazz Workshop’s (NJW) headquarters, 1312 Adams Street. “I’d been doing everyone else’s record, so I felt it was time to do mine own,” laughed Mechem. “It had been eight years, but I’m not real sure that if I were just going to pick something to do it would be this type of record.” Shiny Stockings features complete transcriptions and the actual arrangements that the Basie band played on such songs as “Splanky,” “In A Mellotone,” “Plymouth Rock,” “One O’Clock Jump” and the title track converted over to piano quartet arrangements. “This is something that Roger (bassist, husband and NJW co-founder Roger Spencer) and I had been talking about doing for several years,” Mechem said. “The actual work started last November and we finally finished it.
It was a tricky process in that there are some arrangers whose work really fit, and others that didn’t. There’s a lot of Quincy Jones and Billy May arrangements, as well as some Ernie Wilkins. Those arrangements had a lot of block chord voicings, like those of George Shearing. The other distinction was that, other than “One O’Clock Jump,” which you have to feature on any Basie album since it was their theme song for many decades, is that we’re not doing ‘30s material. It’s more the songs from the ‘50s.” Besides Mechem on piano and Spencer on bass, other quartet members are drummer Chris Brown and Andre Reiss, who’s playing a Stromberg guitar, the same model that legendary rhythm guitarist Freddie Green used on both live and studio dates.
The disc, which also has a gorgeous, full and striking sound quality, is the latest Cognito Music and NJW production, and follows in the footsteps of other excellent area albums done by Annie Sellick, the Barber Brothers, and Liz Johnson. Shiny Stockings will be available locally in such stores as Tower Records and Borders, or by contacting the NJW either at 242-5299 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Shiny Stockings’ is going to make you break out in a wide grin, which will continue ’till the very last note is played.” – Beegie Adair
“From the opening song (Splanky), this project swings with heart, swings with soul, and swings with fire. And why not, it’s Basie. It’s all about swing.” – Rod McGaha
“If you only have one disc in your car CD player, ‘Shiny Stockings’ is the one to have! It just swings!!! – Pete Christlieb