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The Only Son of One

by Wayne Escoffery

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1. World of the Bardo
2. Banishment of the Lost Spirit
3. Perilous Desires
4. The Only Son of One
5. If I Am, Who You Are
6. Selena's Song
7. Presumed Innocence
8. Colour Spectrum
9. Two Souls

CD Quality - 16 bit / 44.1 khz

Charlie Parker proclaimed: “if you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.” The thirty-seven year old, tenor/soprano saxophonist Wayne Escoffery – a veteran of New York’s brightest bands, including The Mingus Big Band and Tom Harrell’s, and a protégé of Jackie McLean – now releases his latest Sunnyside CD, The Only Son of One, an inspired and impassioned recording that chronicles a turbulent but ultimately triumphant tale of his life which began in North London, where he was born to a loving mother and her abusive Jamaican husband, who forced her to emigrate to the United States when Escoffery was eight years old to settle down in Hartford, CT.

It was here in the United States where Escoffery navigated America’s murky waters of fatherlessness, race and identity. He enrolled and excelled at Jackie McLean’s prestigious Hartt School of Music, The New England Conservatory of Music and the Thelonious Monk Institute. Escoffery created a new name for himself while wrestling with the emotional minefields left by his absent father.

As James McBride, author of The Color of Water, writes in the CD liner notes, “Wayne saw a lot as a child. More than he should have seen. He stored those memories in a deep well of psychological stir, and later poured them into the horn. The results have always demanded attention. But here, where they’re assembled together for the first time as homage to a troubled but instructive past, they take on added resonance.”

Supported by a swinging group featuring Orrin Evans on piano and Fender Rhodes, keyboardist Adam Holzman, bassists Hans Glawisching and Ricky Rodrigues, and drummer Jason Brown, Escoffrey’s Coltrane-tinged, rapid-fire attack is the pen that writes his compelling story on the epidermis of jazz art.

“World of the Bardo” is a powerful reference to Escoffrey seeing his father’s ghost after his father’s death from cancer during Escoffery’s junior year of high school (Bardo, translated from the Tibetan means transitional state). “Banishment of the Lost Spirit” is haunted by McCoy Tyner’s powerful spirit, in contrast to the ancient, Lao Tze-influenced embers of “Perilous Desires.”

The title track is a reminder of his spare, Stateside upbringing, followed by “If I Am, Who You Are,” rendered in the tempo of the Benny Golson/Quincy Jones classic swinger, “Killer Joe,” with an admonition for the son to never be like his father. “Selena’s Song,” is the leader’s waltzy shout out to his courageous mother, while a grooving backbeat rocks “Presumed Innocence.” “Color Spectrum” is a soulful meditation on the racial dimensions of black, brown and beige people. The CD closes with an intimate duet, “Two Souls,” between Escoffrey and Evans.

Born on February 23, 1975 in London, England, Escoffrey’s transcontinental odyssey made a strong impression on his art as he overcame adversity through dedication and inspiration. He has had a number of prominent gigs with some of today’s brightest jazz stars, including Ben Riley’s Monk Legacy, Eric Reed, Lonnie Plaxico, and his wife, singer Carolyn Leonhart. His recordings as a leader include Time Change (Nagel Hayer, 2001), Intuition (Nagel Hayer, 2004), Veneration: Live at Smoke Savant (Nagel Hayer, 2007) and If Dreams Come True (Nagel Hayer, 2007), Hopes and Dreams (Savant, 2009), Uptown (Posi–Tone) and Tides of Yesterday (Savant Records).

It has been quite an emotional journey for Wayne Escoffrey and this CD shows that his journey has only just begun. “At every step, in every key, in every way and manner, this assortment of music reflects an American/British/Jamaican artist of extreme importance and enormous spiritual wealth,” McBride writes. “The originality and accessibility of this music will stir the soul and spirit of even the most jaded jazz listener.”


released April 10, 2012

Wayne Escoffery - tenor, soprano sax
Orrin Evans - Fender Rhodes, piano
Adam Holzman - keyboards
Hans Glawischnig - bass (1, 2, 4 & 5)
Ricky Rodrigues - bass (3, 6, 7 & 8)
Jason Brown - drums


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