June 15, 2012
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) Los Angeles saxophonist Dale Fielder was just six years old when the music of baritone sax player and composer Pepper Adams grabbed his heart and imagination.
He was listening to a jazz record by trumpeter Donald Byrd and was about to move the needle on the LP to restart the song when “this passionate, deep and beautifully gruff sound leaped out of the record player at me. …I took my hand off the needle and grabbed the album cover. Pepper Adams, baritone sax. My life has never been the same since,” writes Fielder on a blog post.
On June 20, Fielder, an award-winning international jazz saxophonist, composer and recording artist, will bring Adams’ music to the Pierce Street Jazz concert series at La Sierra University. Fielder’s band will include Theo Saunders on piano, Ramon Banda on drums and Henry “the Skipper” Franklin on bass.
The concert will take place at 7 p.m., at the La Sierra University Alumni Center, 11500 Pierce St., Riverside. The alumni center is one block from the university’s main campus in front of La Sierra Natural Foods market. Admission is free. For additional information call 951-785-2148.
Adams, who died in 1986, played baritone sax with Byrd and many other top acts during his career. He composed 43 jazz pieces and was leader on 18 album projects. He was nominated for three Grammy awards and in 1980 was named baritone soloist of the year. Early in his career his aggressive, tumbling playing style bumped against the so-called West Coast cool jazz that was riding a popularity wave at the time, promulgated by famed baritone player Gerry Mulligan.
Fielder, who in 2007 recorded an album of Adams’ works, viewed the baritone sax player’s music and style as uniquely genius and foundational to jazz. “On baritone sax, Pepper Adams was such a force of nature,” says Fielder. “What does it for me is his sound. One of the most unique and instantly identifiable sounds in jazz. His sound is the way I think a baritone should sound: deep, strong and powerful.”
Fielder, a native of Midland, Pa. is a musician and composer skilled on the soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones. He majored in ethnomusicology with the University of Pittsburgh’s jazz program and debuted as a member of a quartet led by former Charlie Parker Quintet drummer Joe Harris. Fielder received a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1984 and has written several extended jazz compositions including his 11-movement jazz suite, “Ocean of Love and Mercy” which was released by Cadence Jazz Records.
He has played with many famed jazz acts including pianist and composer Geri Allen and trombonist Robin Eubanks. In Los Angeles he studied with alto sax legend Charles McPherson and formed the Dale Fielder Quartet which has since toured throughout Asia and Europe. Since 1993 Fielder has recorded more than 13 compact discs including his 1996 album, “Dear Sir: Tribute to Wayne Shorter,” which received critical acclaim and a national top-10 listing. His 2005 album “Baritone Sunride” received international attention and pegged Fielder as one of the top new jazz baritone sax players. In 1999 BET named him Jazz Discovery winner. Fielder subsequently taped several video appearances and shows for BET. His latest CD, “Stellar Moments,” was released in 2010. His current schedule includes vocal and saxophone performances with his new jazz/pop/rhythm and blues band, Sonic Rewind.
Fielder and bassist Franklin have been performing Adams’ music in preparation for Fielder’s participation this fall in the International Celebration of Pepper Adams, a three-month festival of concerts of Adams’ compositions that will take place in cities around North America and Europe. Fielder’s Pierce Street Jazz performance will serve as a preview to an Adams festival concert he will give in Los Angeles. Other festival concerts will take place in San Francisco, New York, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Washington D.C., Toronto, Montreal and elsewhere.
Fielder’s Pierce Street Jazz band members have extensive backgrounds in the jazz music industry nationally and internationally and have performed with many famous acts including Al Jarreau, Freddie Hubbard, Stevie Wonder, Bobby Bradford, Count Basie and many others.
Bassist Franklin has performed on more than 150 albums and compact discs including gold releases, many of which he produced. Last March he released his 24th album, “Soul of the World,” recorded with his band on his SP Records label. Franklin was part of the legendary Hugh Masekela’s band during the late 1960s and has performed with many other jazz and pop greats. When not on tour in various parts of the United States and the world, Franklin plays his upright bass at The Historic Mission Inn in Riverside, Calif.
Drummer Banda performed 24 years with the Grammy award-winning Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band. He is a current band member with famed jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco. Banda grew up in Norwalk, Calif., part of a large musical family. In 1996 he and bass-playing brother Tony Banda, formed their own ensemble, The Banda Bros. Group, with Tony on upright bass. The duo has performed on numerous worldwide tours and with many famous acts. Over the past two decades, Ramon has performed on more than 22 recordings and recorded and played with such music greats as Dizzie Gillespie, Tito Puente, Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea, Arturo Sandoval, Diana Reeves and others.
Pianist Saunders has performed in many of the world’s most prestigious jazz festivals and concert halls with distinguished artists including Hubbard, Carla Bley, David “Fathead” Newman, Barbara Morrison, Bobby Rodriguez, Gladys Knight, the Four Tops and many others.
He has directed music for opera productions and international musical theatre. As a composer, Saunders has numerous compositions to his credit as well as original scores for theatre, radio and multimedia production.
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University