MikeFrostProject
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MikeFrostProject

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE | AFM

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE | AFM
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"Jazz Improv Magazine Review"


Mike Frost Project
COMIN’ STRAIGHT AT YA—Blujazz
Productions. www.mikefrostproject.com. Wylie’s
Windup; Vicious Dex-O-Licious; Little Sunfl ower;
Dizzy Atmosphere; Search for Peace; Wake Up; Star
Eyes; Nica’s Winter Waltz; Aw Geez; Midway’s Lament;
I’ll Remember April; Freedom Jazz Dance.
PERSONNEL—Mike Frost, tenor, soprano
saxophones; Steve Frost, trumpet, fl ugelhorn; Bill
Boris, guitar; Tom Vaitsas, B3 organ; piano; Mark
Berls, acoustic bass; Dave Bernat, drums.
By Dave Miele
Mike Frost is a captivating new saxophonist
on the modern jazz scene. His Mike Frost Project
is a swingin’ combo in the post-bop style. Th eir
latest recording, Comin’ Straight at Ya, presents a
well rounded program of originals and standards
which showcases the excellent band as well as Frost’s
arranging and composing skills—which are formidable
to say the least. Frost is also a magnifi cent soloist and
his improvisations pepper the entire recording with a
unique musical fl avor, while maintaining the lack of
ego to give equal room to his sidemen - who are all
wonderful improvisers themselves. Comin Straight at
Ya is a great new release and all jazz fans should add it
to their collection.
Frost’s compositional style is swingin’ and
relaxed—familiar without sounding dated or
derivative. He begins the program with two of his
originals. “Wylie’s Windup” is a fast, hard-hitting postbop
infl uenced tune, with syncopated hits during the
melody. Frost takes a compelling solo, as does guitarist
Bill Boris and pianist Tom Vaitsas.
Th e second
original is “Vicious Dex-O-Licious,” a medium tempo
bluesy number, with a relaxed and laid back vibe. Solos
are again interesting and informed, from Boris, Frost,
organist Tom Vaitsas and trumpeter Steve Frost (who
plays muted). “Wake Up” is another original—set at
a burnin’ tempo, in a swing style with a bluesy feel.
Steve Frost plays as interestingly on the open horn as
he does muted. Th e composer also takes a wonderful
solo, as does Boris. Frost also shows his compositional
prowess on such memorable tracks as “Nica’s Winter
Waltz”, a dreary, somber waltz set in a slow tempo; the
eclectic and moody ballad “Midway’s Lament” and
“Aw Geez”, another swingin’ blues-infl uenced tune.
Soloists are well chosen, with a fi ne bass solo by Mark
Berls on “Nica’s Winter Waltz” and spirited trading
with drummer Dave Bernat on “Aw Geez”, as well as
some magnifi cent “duet soloing” between Frost and
Boris on “Midway’s Lament”.
In addition to the fi ne originals, the band tackles
standards by some of bebop and hardbop’s most prolifi c
composers. Included is Freddie Hubbard’s “Little
Sunfl ower”, a fast bossa with interesting rhythmic
hits on the bridge and Dizzy Gillespie’s “Dizzy
Atmosphere”, set in a medium/up swing tempo and
featuring terrifi c solo work from both Frosts. McCoy
Tyner is represented with his ballad “Search for Peace”,
which the band plays tenderly yet with much energy.
Eddie Harris’ “Freedom Jazz Dance” is a wonderful
jam-tune with a deep, funky pocket. Also included
are excellent renditions of the more classic standards
“Star Eyes”, handled as a ballad (with an interestingly
unexpected Latin intro) and “April in Paris” in the
usual Latin/swing confi guration. Th e band swings as
hard on these tracks as they do on the originals.
Comin Straight at Ya gets my highest
recommendation. Th e program is non-stop swing,
with a deep pocket and a thriving pulse. Th e original
compositions are interesting and musical; there
are no pretensions and no ego evident in either the
compositions or arrangements. Frost and his band
breathe new life into the standards. Th is is a great
modern small combo that can hang with the best of
them, and one with you should hang out too.
- Jazz Improv


"Cadence Magazine - April 2007"


MIKE FROST PROJECT,
COMIN’ STRAIGHT AT YA,
BLU JAZZ 3349.
Wylie’s Windup/ Vicious Dex-O-Licious / Little Sunflower / Dizzy
Atmosphere / Search for Peace / Wake Up / Star Eyes / Nica’s
Winter Waltz / Aw Geez / Midway’s Lament / I’ll Remember April
/ Freedom Jazz Dance. 70:37.
Frost, ts, ss; Steve Frost, flgh, tpt; Bill Boris, g; Tom
Vaitsas, B3 org, p; Tim Mulveena, perc/vibes; Dave
Bernat, d. March 21- 22, 2006. Chicago, IL
If you’re looking for some jumpstart music to
kick you into gear and get you rolling, here is a CD
that will do just that! Right off the bat, “Wylie’s
Windup” will race you out of the gate and into the
mainstream of Straight-ahead Jazz! Mike Frost isn’t
playing around. He’s a serious saxophonist and gifted
composer. Producers Greg Pasenko and Frost
both know how to get the best out of this all-star
ensemble. This CD is as neatly put together as a scientific
report. It’s got all the right components to
create a masterful mesh of solid Swing Jazz. The
addition of Tom Vaitsas on B3 organ adds just the
right touch. Vaitsas is also co-composer, along with
Frost, on the original music included herein. On
“Vicious Dex-o-licious,” Vaitsas is truly the catalyst
that mixes with Bill Boris on guitar to produce an
explosive Swing groove. When Steve Frost (who
plays flugelhorn and trumpet on this recording)
adds his talent to the concoction, the test tubes start
bubbling and the experiment is nearly complete.
They take a little time to simmer the brew, with saxophonist
Frost trading fours with the organ. Frost is
to be complimented on this composition. “Vicious
Dex-o-licious” is an original melody that sticks in
your brain as easily as you remember your own
phone number. This could have something to do
with the smooth production of harmonic horn lines
at the top of the tune that repeats at the end. Very
catchy! This ensemble keeps the pendulum swinging,
held captive and solid as a rock by Dave Bernat
on drums. Freddie Hubbard’s popular piece “Little
Sunflower” follows smoothly, using interesting harmonics
between horns, guitar, and organ with an
underlying funky Latin beat. McCoy Tyner’s composition,
“Search for Peace” is beautifully performed as
a tender ballad. Another Vaitsas and Frost composition
leaps off the CD player and bebops around the
room on “Wake Up.” You won’t be prone to nod off
with this one playing. I enjoyed their rendition of
“Star Eyes.” “Nica’s Winter Waltz” ventures into the
realm of lullabies allowing Vaitsas some solo space
to feature his talents on piano. “Freedom Jazz
Dance” by Eddie Harris sounded strangely out of
place on this recording. It follows on the heels of “I’ll
Remember April.” Suddenly, the group direction
seems to switch up. We are thrown from a CD of
straightahead Jazz to Funk. I’m a big fan of Eddie
Harris and it’s not a bad rendition of his celebrated
“Freedom Jazz Dance,” but my question is, why this
arrangement? Just when I thought these dynamic
musicians had the perfect formula for a straightahead
Jazz recording, this scientific equation blows
up. Their original hypothesis melts into a Funk
groove that stretches on for nearly twelve minutes.
All I have to say is, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Dee Dee McNeil - Cadence Magazine


"AllAboutJazz.com Review"

By Jim Santella
This stellar Chicago organ combo is a swinging sextet from the
straightahead tradition. Bassist Mark Berls guests on four numbers, giving
the Mike Frost Project an even bigger sound. Brothers Mike and Steve
Frost have had a lifetime to develop the cohesive sound that they display
here. However, it’s been a lot more effort than that for the band. They all
worked together for over five years to develop the superb cohesiveness
that's so prominent on this recommended album.
Tone quality plays a major role in the band’s success. On tenor and
soprano, Mike Frost delivers a persuasive, clarion tone. The soprano can
be a tough one to get used to--I can count on two hands the number of
soprano saxophonists whom I enjoy listening to, and still have a few
fingers left over. Frost has a captivating tone quality that combines with
his spot-on intonation for a beautiful presentation. That puts him into
the elite group of soprano saxophonists whom I understand and enjoy.
Trumpeter Steve Frost endows his melodic refrains with considerable
expression, never sacrificing soul for technique. He has varied
opportunities, too, with uptempo romps like “Dizzy Atmosphere” and
slow ballads like McCoy Tyner’s “Search for Peace.”
The stellar lineup of artists in the Project know each other well.
Pianist/organist Tom Vaitsas stretches out frequently and comps with a
strong foundation, while guitarist Bill Boris adds lyrical phrases that
merge seamlessly. Their easy motion and swinging rhythms are thrilling.
As the album closes with Eddie Harris’ “Freedom Jazz Dance,” the
band’s funky strut picks it up a notch. They’ve got the feeling down pat.
At this point, people in the audience would be up and out of their chairs,
unwilling to keep still while the music drives ‘em harder. Comin’ Straight
At Ya’ can rock your boat and take you for a healthy ride through “where
it’s at.”
Track Listing: Wylie’s Windup; Vicious Dex-o-licious;
Little Sunflower; Dizzy Atmosphere; Search for Peace;
Wake Up; Star Eyes; Nica’s Winter Waltz; Aw Geez;
Midway’s Lament; I’ll Remember April; Freedom Jazz
Dance.
Personnel: Mike Frost: tenor saxophone, soprano
saxophone; Steve Frost: trumpet, flugelhorn; Bill Boris:
guitar; Tom Vaitsas: B3 organ, piano; Tim Mulvenna:
percussion, vibraphone; Dave Bernat: drums; Mark Berls:
bass.
CD Review Center
- AAJ.com


Discography

2008 release
MikeFrostProject 'LIVE'
A collection of live recordings from various performances.

***MFP CD "Comin' Straight At Ya' makes 2007 Grammy qualifying ballot!! Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group!!***

Nothing Smooth About It - 2004
CMJ Top 13
JazzWeek Top 30
WBEZ - Top 20 Jazz CDs of 2004
Top 10 Canada Jazz & earshot!

Comin' Straight At Ya' - 2006
CMJ Top 10
'Chartbound' on JazzWeek 2 weeks after release
Over 4 months consistent airplay across, US, Canada and internet

Photos

Bio

Wall Street Journal, New York Post - all sorts of publications proclaiming "Jazz is Dead!" Well, maybe they are looking in the wrong places and haven't heard of this group!

The Mike Frost Project has been one of the most exciting jazz groups to be based in Chicago during the past several years.

“We play straight ahead jazz,” says Mike Frost, “using great songs from the past plus contributing new originals in a complementary style. Essentially we perform a modern day version of an earlier style but in our own way.” The heated and colorful solos of the Frost brothers, Vaitsas and Boris, along with the steady and stimulating support provided by Mulvenna and Hilliker, gives the group its own joyful and highly accessible personality.

The first musician that Mike Frost asked to become a member of his band was his brother Steve who remembers, “My uncle played trumpet although not professionally. I pestered my parents to let me borrow my uncle’s trumpet and that’s how I got started. I played at weddings while in high school, hooking up with older guys in their twenties who gave me a chance. After college I played in a lot of different styles from church music to pop and blues before joining my brothers’ group.”

Mike soon added Tom Vaitsas. “I met Tom quite a few years ago at a gig shortly after I got out of college. We have the same ideas about music and he is the perfect accompanist for both instrumentalists and singers.” The keyboardist says, “I originally played organ and clarinet, not switching to piano until I was in high school. I played in some blues bands and with trios and quartets. I started studying with a pianist in Chicago who knew of Mike Frost and his band. They needed an organist in the group and I was recommended.”
“Tom is a very versatile writer,” says Frost. “I often come up with melodies and then he instantly puts chords to them; musically he is like an extension of me.” Tom adds, “I love the bebop language and the rhythmic aspect of straightahead jazz, which gives one a lot of freedom and room to express oneself. Mike is really open to suggestions and new ideas, making it a pleasure to write songs with him.”

Guitarist Bill Boris, who was introduced to Mike by Tom, joined eight years ago. Boris started on guitar when he was 11 and almost immediately was leading his own group. In addition to touring with Arthur Prysock, and performing and recording with Charles Earland and Irene Reid, he had his own band for several years. “We played a crossover between funk and jazz, similar to later Miles Davis.” “Bill was the first guitar player I ever played with who thought like a horn player in the way he interpreted melodies,” says Mike Frost.

“I’ve known Dave Bernat and Tim Mulvenna (who has often worked with saxophonist Ken Vandermark) for quite some time. Dave became our drummer with Tim substituting now and then. However I always wanted to have a percussionist in the band and I love the stuff that Tim does, so he became part of the band too.”

After playing together extensively, the Mike Frost Project made their recording debut with Nothing Smooth About It which was received with rave reviews and plenty of airplay for a debut CD. The sophomore CD, Comin’ Straight At Ya, in addition to including spirited versions of such pieces as Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower,” “Dizzy Atmosphere,” “Star Eyes” and an extended “Freedom Jazz Dance,” has six originals co-written by Mike Frost and Tom Vaitsas that are advanced while being connected to the straightahead tradition. It garnered great reviews and airplay as well along with a listing on the first round GRAMMY nomination ballot for "Best Instrumental Album - Jazz".

Comin’ Straight At Ya was recorded in two days and most of the performances are first takes. “I always try to record in the same manner that I’ve read about and admired” says Mike Frost. “We just play the tunes straight through and let the CD sound like we do in concert.” Bill Boris says, “It’s live and spontaneous and in a few cases the first performance was in the studio. The CD has a good consideration of the tradition while looking forward, along with a lot of energy. I really like all of the tunes, particularly ‘Wylie’s Windup,’ ‘Vicious Dex-O-Licious’ and ‘Nica’s Winter Waltz.’” Steve Frost comments, “This is a very honest recording, done live in the studio. I particularly like ‘Wylie’s Windup’ and ‘Aw Geez.’ Our group is inspired by Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, Gene Ammons, Dexter Gordon, Lee Morgan, Jimmy Smith, Charles Earland and so many others.” But most importantly, the Mike Frost Project might play in the tradition but they come up with fresh ideas and do not closely copy any of the past masters.

Mike Frost continues, “Our recordings are a very good indication of how we sound. We are all in the same room when we record. People that hear our CD and then see the band say that we sound just like the recording, but I tell them that the recordings sound lik