Saxophonist & Multi-Instrumentalist DANNY JANKLOW Releases Stunning Full-Length Debut, ELEVATION, Co-Produced by Pianist John Beasley
Album Features Janklow’s Mentors and Peers: Pianists Eric Reed and John Beasley, Keyboardist Sam Barsh, Vibraphonist Nick Mancini, Bassists Ben Williams and Benjamin Shepherd, And Drummer Jonathan Pinson
Featuring Guest Vocal Spots by Jesse Palter on “Hidden Treasure” and “Lolobai” And Michael Mayo on Catchy Album Closer “Serene State of Love”
Saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist, educator & composer Danny Janklow has emerged as a leading voice of his generation on the alto saxophone. His blistering sixteenth note runs and distinct tone and intensity place him among the vanguard of young alto saxophonists including Will Vinson, Loren Stillman, Greg Ward, Braxton Cook and Ben Van Gelder. Indeed his most important mentor, alto saxophonist Dick Oatts, known for his work with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and as a longtime educator, confirms this fact, “Danny is a superb alto saxophonist. He is one of the best of his generation. He has a great sound and will keep moving the alto forward conceptually for many years to come.”
Unlike many modern alto players, who rely heavily on a post-Coltrane sound, one can hear a range of influences including classic West Coast jazz (think Lee, Paul, Gerry) plus a strong funk vibe (think Maceo and Sanborn). Additionally Janklow absorbed Johnny Hodges, Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Stitt, Eric Dolphy, Kenny Garrett and Zenón. These elements collide and converge to make his full-length debut as a leader, Elevation, something to behold.
The album begins with “Philafornia” – a fitting title for the California native who spent his college years on a full-tuition scholarship to Philadelphia’s Temple University Boyer College of Music and Dance being mentored by saxophone legend Oatts and trumpeter Terell Stafford. It explodes with a hard bop energy familiar in sound and vibe, yet modern and sleek in execution and conception: this spirit pervades the rest of the album. Drummer Jonathan Pinson (Kamasi Washington, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter) gets a startling showcase at the end of the lead-off track. Janklow says, “At the end of ‘Philafornia,’ Jonathan takes the Philly part of the hook, playing a controlled yet free explosion, alternating between quickly shifting meters, bringing the song to a a joyous climax.”
Janklow’s “Bad Reception” is a more involved number, rollicking in vibraphonist Nick Mancini’s post-Bobby Hutcherson glow, with a memorable repeating pattern and a swath of zig-zagging tempo shifts over the form, showcasing some of Janklow’s more memorable and inventive saxophone work on the record. Pianist Eric Reed sets the tune on fire with an incredibly swinging McCoy-esque solo, reminiscent of Reed’s days with the Wynton Marsalis Septet, as on Live at the Village Vanguard.
“Hidden Treasure” showcases the gorgeous singing of Jesse Palter over a lush yet propulsive balladesque background. Bassist Ben Williams contributes a lyrical upright bass solo immediately following Palter’s statement of the melody. The emotional centerpiece of the album, however, is a reflective rendition of Radiohead’s seminal “Creep.” It features a more introspective Janklow, with a gut-wrenching gospel-tinged blues-drenched side to his playing. The track is enhanced by erstwhile jazz pianist turned pop keyboardist and producer/songwriter Sam Barsh, who worked closely with Janklow on production and whose credits include work with Avishai Cohen, Aloe Blacc, Kendrick Lamar, Ty Dolla $ign, and Anderson.Paak.
Barsh said of Janklow in a 2016 profile in the Los Angeles Times, "Jazz players can make the sound of hip-hop a little more musical." Barsh, who prefers a gritty East Coast sound and has been a mentor to Janklow since he returned to LA continued, "Danny has that in his sound...More importantly, he sees the greater possibilities for jazz and music in general. He sees a more evolved way of playing and connecting with audiences. That's uncommon in the jazz world."
“Roastmaster” is an uptempo interlude composed by Barsh, with a memorable melody that lingers and then is subsumed by effective post-production work – blips of noise, the song sped up and rearranged. It cuts right into one of Janklow’s finest compositions, the deeply grooving, infectious “Gemini Vibe” which recalls David Sanborn’s 80s work, while also remaining true to the burgeoning youthful jazz scene in LA – features an undeniable bass line by Ben Shepherd (Billy Childs, Peter Erskine, Alicia Olatuja), coupled with a main line which buoyantly hops and bounces between octaves and time feels.
Pianist John Beasley has been one of Janklow’s most consistent supporters and mentors, employing the saxophonist in his Monk’estra and other groups. Beasley is also credited as a co-producer on the album. “Danny is a very focused musician. The first time I heard him was when I was judging an international jazz ensemble competition in Amsterdam. He was studying at Temple at that time. So, when I learned that he was returning to Los Angeles when he finished school, I thought to bring him into my big band, the MONK’estra. He’s been playing with MONK’estra for 2 years now. Danny has an impressive drive to become a composer and a band leader, which I know he will succeed in.”
Janklow notes that Beasley helped the album come to life, drawing on his experience as a player, producer or music director for the likes of Miles Davis, Steely Dan, Chaka Khan, Dianne Reeves, Freddie Hubbard, Queen Latifah, and American Idol. “John was an integral part of this record. He was in the producer chair for several of the tracks and oversaw the mixing process.” He continues, “John has also put me front and center in his Monk’estra, which I’m eternally grateful for. I’ve recently gotten to travel all over Europe with the band, putting me in the spotlight at this early stage in my career.”
The final two pieces are more romantic than what’s preceded - “All in the Name of You” unfolds memorably, with Mancini’s vibes introducing Janklow’s deceptively simple melody; while “Serene State of Love” opens with a Jobim-meets-Stevie Wonder groove featuring the lush tenor of Michael Mayo, anchored ably by Williams. It’s a refreshing way to conclude, showing Janklow to be a selfless bandleader.
Janklow explains “I wanted this record to conjure a deeply soulful intention to inspire my listeners to a heightened state of awareness; of mindful elevation. This record was born of my own personal stories of hope, joy, love, persistence and my pursuit of optimism.”
MORE ABOUT DANNY JANKLOW -
Born in Tarzana, CA in 1989, Janklow was handed a saxophone at the age of 11. His life rapidly changed as he discovered the sounds of Parker, Adderley, and Coltrane. Just two years later, the music had chosen him and his life path was self evident. Following graduation from Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance in 2011, where he received a full tuition scholarship, Janklow returned to his native Los Angeles. Once there, he quickly became one of Los Angeles’ most in-demand saxophonists for studio work and touring. In August 2012, he won First Place at the Detroit International Jazz Festival Saxophone Competition. He took part in a 2-year mentorship program teaching at Stanford Jazz Workshop, where he discovered his passion for teaching. In 2013, he was chosen as one of fifteen semi-finalists to compete in the Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition in Washington D.C.
His heartfelt, passionate, and highly energetic sound has reached thousands of listeners from Japan to Mexico to Holland as a regular member of bands led by Eric Reed, John Beasley’s Monk’estra, Bill Holman Big Band, Postmodern Jukebox, Keiko Matsui and as a frequent substitute in the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, and Johnny Mandel’s Orchestra, among others. Danny is also a highly sought after studio musician in Los Angeles – performing across genres. Other artists Danny has recorded or shared the stage with include Stevie Wonder, Jose James, Kendrick Lamar, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Benny Golson, George Benson, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Jason Moran, Wallace Roney, Ben Williams, Savion Glover and Jimmy Heath.