Derrick Gardner and the Jazz Prophets
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Derrick Gardner and the Jazz Prophets

Lansing, Michigan, United States | INDIE

Lansing, Michigan, United States | INDIE
Band Jazz Jazz


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Music Review: Derrick Gardner And The Jazz Prophets - A Ride To The Other Side Written by Pico Published May 20, 2008"

The title A Ride To The Other Side isn't intended to mean anything deep, but nevertheless the music is a thrill ride to the side of that soulful funky acoustic jazz of the sixties. Trumpet player Derrick Gardner is firmly behind the wheel driving that bus. Derrick Gardner, the forty-two year-old son of accomplished musicians with PhD's, earned his stripes playing in ensembles such as the Count Basie Orchestra, Frank Foster's Loud Minority Band and Harry Connick Jr.'s Big Band. For the last seventeen years, Gardner has led a band of his own, a septet he christened The Jazz Prophets. While the piano, bass and drum chairs have changed over the years, the trumpet-sax-trombone horn section has always respectively consisted of Gardner, Rob Dixon, and Derrick's brother Vincent. Nowadays, Anthony Wonsey mans the piano, Rodney Whitaker holds down the bass and Donald Edwards handles the drums (Kevin Kaiser helps out on percussion when needed). Despite The Jazz Prophets being such a long-running going concern, they didn't record an album until 2005'sSlim Goodie. A mere three years later comes their second effort, A Ride To The Other Side, from the nascent Owl Studios label. From the first listen, though, it sounds more like the Blue Note label---and I mean the old Blue Note label---where even on an average day, hot blowing, memorable jazz was being laid to wax with regularity. Gardner and his crew bring that spirit alive again on A Ride To The Other Side. With nine out of ten tracks composed by band members and no standards at all, the album sounds fresh even as it hewns closely to tradition. It's roughly akin to a long lost Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers record being discovered in Blue Note's vaults; one recorded with the classic Shorter/Fuller/Hubbard lineup. Horace Silver and Cannonball Adderley also figure in prominently in their funky, no-nonsense sound. With every tune possessing a unique character and striking a perfect balance between groove and gritty technique, it's nearly everything you can ask for. Having not forgotten his stint in Basie's Orchestra (or Connick's) Gardner and his Jazz Prophets swing and swing hard. These guys don't let up on their mission from beginning to end, and each song has something worth highlighting, but three tunes provides a good sampling of the Prophets' deep bag of tricks: The opener "Funky Straight" delivers their own jazz message with a high-tempo, Latin-tinged groover. The Gardner composition is tightly constructed with a nice hook or two and after the horn section play through them effortlessly, each of the blowers takes turns soloing. Gardner goes first and while his big, fat tone combines elements of Clifford Brown and Freddie Hubbard, he has an intelligence in the way he picks and smears his notes that's all his own. His brother Vincent picks up where he left off and also improvises well. Dixon follows nicely and Wonsey wraps it up with a sizzler of a solo.Gardner's "Mac Daddy Grip" is a classic Blakey strut and as the longest tune, stretches out the most. The improvising is punctuated with riffs from other bandmembers, including a clever "Love Supreme" quote for the unsuspecting.
"God's Gift," a Dixon tribute to his daughter Sidney, is soulful, introspective, and played with much feel. Paced by seven-note bass line, the composer plays around it effectively using blues notes that convey a somber, wistful mood. The other horn players follow suit with equally affecting solos, ending with Wonsey's well-paced runs and ruminations. As a full-time professor of jazz trumpet at Michigan State University (where Whitaker runs the entire Jazz Studies program), Derrick Gardner packed at least a whole semester within a single disc. Jazz was always meant to be vibrant and fun to listen to. Sometimes we need guys like Derrick Gardner to remind us of that. - BlogCritics Magazine

"CD Review Derrick Gardner"

Both sides of this recording are equally compelling. Yes you read that right and no we're not back in time. I know you don't have to interrupt the music anymore to flip the record or turn over the tape. I mean the side of the CD which is rooted in tradition and the side which is new and fresh. This side and the other. Derrick Gardner's latest CD, A Ride to the Other Side…of Infinity contains some of the most
exciting modern jazz you're likely to encounter. And encounter it you should. This is compelling music. The program on the disc is largely original; the front line horns are top-notch. Gardner creates something unique through a mixture of timbres, styles and textures. The disc opens with one of Gardner's originals, entitled "Funky Straight". This tune features a Latin flavored piano/bass vamp. Gardner himself is featured, along with his brother, trombonist Vince Gardner, saxophonist Rob Dixon, and pianist Anthony Wosney. Each take powerful solos. "A Ride to the Other Side", another Gardner original is an up-tempo swinger. Everyone takes a solo on this one, including the rhythm section. These guys take you on all kinds of rides, never losing your attention for a second. "Mac Daddy Grip" begins softly with a bassline. The tune builds from the bottom up, eventually settling into a swingin' shuffle feel. The energy is high on this one which features fine solos from all. "Lazara" shows another side of Gardner's compositional sensibilities. This one
begins with percussion and is set in an Afro-Cuban Latin style. In addition to some more fine horn solos, it features drummer Donald Edwards, over a syncopated vamp. The final Derrick Gardner original is the ballad "Just a Touch". The flugelhorn is featured and Gardner displays equal mastery over this instrument. The use of
the flugelhorn displays Gardner's gorgeous ballad tone on the instrument-not to mention his well-grounded traditional jazz roots. He also features the instrument during the ballad "Be One". The rest of the band also contributes original material. Saxophonist Rob Dixon wrote "God's Gift", a beautiful ballad which serves as another feature for the flugelhorn. His other tune, "…Of Infinity" is a blazing fast swing number, which features fine solo work from all-high energy throughout it's nine minute length. Vincent Gardner's original, "Bugabug" begins with a drum solo and the intensity only builds from there. The brothers (as well as Wosney) both solo. Traditional post-bop, Latin flavored jazz is the brand Derrick Gardner serves up. Reminiscent of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, yet displaying uniqueness in the areas of composition, arrangement and improvisation, Derrick Gardner and the Jazz Prophets deliver something the world of jazz needs right now on A Ride to the Other Side…of Infinity. Go take your car for a ride to the side of town where the mall is and get this CD. - Jazz Improv Magazine

"A Ride to the Other Side..."

"Trumpeter Derrick Gardner is clearly fond of the hard bop sound of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, and that style is somewhat modernized on this set of original mainstream jazz. Sporting a three-horn front line including his brother, trombonist Vincent Gardner, the band utilizes a resilient, sturdy swing, and exudes the joy of Blakey's latter period bands that featured such notables as Bobby Watson and David Schnitter, Terence Blanchard and Donald Harrison, and the Marsalis brothers. Rising tenor saxophonist Rob Dixon, pianist Anthony Wonsey, bassist and fellow M.S.U. Professor Of Jazz Rodney Whitaker and drummer Donald Edwards round out a stellar young but experienced large ensemble. At their hippest "Funky Straight" opens the recording, sporting a Horace Silver Latin tinge, while more in the
Afro-Cuban vein, "Lazara" is a party tune with the jumping horns brimming with hot sauce and urged on by seventh wheel, hand percussionist Kevin Kaiser. Also spicy but in a traipsing samba mode, a drum solo by Edwards provides ignition for "Bugabug," featuring the brothers Gardner individually on the lead line and solo
respectively. Two compositions are inspired from ideas imparted to Derrick Gardner by Frank Foster -- the pure, festive hard swing of "A Ride To The Other Side," while "Bugabug" is the other, based on a big band chart of Foster's. Wonsey's feature "God's Gift" is the modal, patient and prettiest of the tracks, while a cover of Bill Lee's ballad "Be One" shows the individualism of the trumpeter succinctly. The band collectively likes the distinctive stop-start staccato accents that Wynton Marsalis turned into a signature, as on the low-key dynamic shuffle "Mac
Daddy Grip" and during the pace of the ballad "Just A Touch," established subtly by Wonsey and Whitaker. There's no filler on this CD, from the start to the finishing number "..Of Infinity," a memorable chart that could be the best of the bunch. Some Blue Note label fans may find this a trifle derivative, but that's a nit-pick. The
music is exciting, enthusiastic, consistently well played by everyone, and above all, real.

Michael G. Nastos - All Music


( **Independent Music Award 'Best Jazz Album of the Year' 2009)

**2009 “Echoes of Ethnicity”, Derrick Gardner & the Jazz Prophets, Owl Studios

2008 “A Ride To The Other Side” Derrick Gardner & the Jazz prophets, Owl Studios

2005 “Slim Goodie” Derrick Gardner & The Jazz Prophets, Impact Jazz

2011 - NEW RELEASE Scheduled for this fall

Full discography representing all band member totals over 250 recordings.



Jazz trumpeter, Derrick Gardner, inspired by the finest hard-blowing funky bop bands of the 1960’s, is working to extend that great tradition as a composer, arranger, performer, leader and educator.

With extraordinary, creative natural talent, Derrick quickly made his mark upon arriving on the New York jazz scene in 1991. There he began a top-flight career that has taken him around the world performing internationally with the Count Basie Orchestra, (1991-present), Frank Foster’s Loud Minority Band, Harry Connick Jr.’s Big Band, The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and Swiss tenor player Roman Schwaller’s European Sextet. Among his performance locales are Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, Japan, South Africa and Thailand as well as many premiere venues in the United States.

In 1991 Derrick formed the Jazz Prophets and since have delivered a solid and consistently excellent jazz experience for listeners.

Quick Points:

* Band member Vincent Gardner is also the lead trombonist at Jazz at Lincoln Center, delivering a very distinct and awe-inspiring sound.

* Band member Anthony Wonsey is one of today's leading voices on jazz piano with over 50 recordings as a member and 6 as a leader.

* Band member Gerald Cannon is a true renaissance man and master bassist who also tours with McCoy Tyner.

* Band member Donald Edwards is a distinctly creative improvisational jazz drummer who performs regularly with the Mingus Band.

* Band member Rob Dixon is an edgy and intuitive saxophonist with a progressive sound heavily influenced by Coltrane.

* Derrick Gardner & the Jazz Prophets received the 2009 Independent Music Awards ‘Best Jazz Album of the Year’ for their CD Echoes of Ethnicity

* The Jazz Prophets are scheduled for a new release in the late summer of 2011

* Derrick Gardner & the Jazz Prophets compose and arrange a powerful sound with great technical and intuitive improvisational skill

* Band members make themselves available to personally sign their merchandise and set aside time for interaction with fans

At the end of the day, this band is just as deep as it is wide; providing a powerful musical experience through superb artistry and professional character. From front man Derrick Gardner throughout the entire Jazz Prophet line-up, this band delivers an outstanding performance that audiences will stand up and remember.