'Bout Time!

Total Time – 54:28

    (Freddie Hubbard)
    Hubtones Music BMI 4:51
    (Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II)
    Universal Polygram Int. Publ. Inc. ASCAP 6:13
    (Harold ‘Tina’ Brooks)
    Second Floor Music BMI 5:19
    (Newell Chase/Leo Robin/
    Richard A. Whiting)
    Famous Music Corp. BMI 5:30
    (Paul Hofmann)
    PBH Music BMI 4:08
    (Butch Warren)
    EMI Unart Catalog Inc. BMI 4:07
    (Joe Magnarelli)
    Sandy Morani Music BMI 4:42
    (Michael Melito/Paul Hofmann)
    PBH Music BMI 5:09
  9. THE CLOSER alternate take
    (Michael Melito/Paul Hofmann)
    PBH Music BMI 5:09

    Bonus track:

    (Cedar Walton)
    Vernita Music BMI 7:59
  • Produced by Michael Melito
  • Engineered and edited by Michael Brorby
  • Recorded digitally, August 22-23 and November 19, 1997 at Acoustic Recording, Brooklyn, New York
  • Art direction and design by Keith Kavanaugh
  • Photography by Louis Ouzer

’Bout Time!

“Every time you play a solo you’re free to play what you want to play. That’s freedom right there. I don’t dig it the other way.”

on the limitations of ‘musical freedom’

Growing up in a musical family, I would often hear recordings of legendary jazz drummers such as Philly Joe Jones, Art Blakey and Papa Jo Jones. I remember wondering … what was it that made them sound so great? Later, I began memorizing their solos and keying in on their cymbal grooves, listening carefully to the individual placement of each beat. As I started playing professionally, I soon realized that not everyone hears and feels time in the same ways. I came to firmly believe that without a solid time feel, jazz music just doesn’t sound ‘right.’

The remarkable drummers just mentioned were masters of playing strong, swinging time. There’s a common thread throughout their styles – they didn’t need to play a lot in order to say a lot! Their consistently adhering to this principle represents much of what made their contributions to jazz so important. I’ve tried to instill a similar ‘time sense’ in my playing. With this disc, my second release, my aim is to extend this musical idea … to be supportive while swinging. Each of the sidemen appears on my debut album, “My Conception,” and each follows this same musical philosophy.

The CD kicks off with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard’s composition Happy Times – a tune I’ve always loved. Tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart leads off with two soulful choruses, followed by a nice piano solo from Paul Hofmann. Grant is truly an unsung jazz hero. It always amazes me how he never plays the same solo twice! Grant has a great sound and is filled with interesting ideas that seem to flow endlessly. Originally from Toronto, Grant now lives and works in New York City. He has two albums available on Criss Cross: “Downtown Sounds” and “More Urban Tones.” Grant has studied with jazz legends Barry Harris and Donald Byrd.

Next up is Nobody Else But Me from the musical “Show Boat.” Dig Grant on this! Swingin’ right out of the gate. Paul Hofmann follows Grant with a relaxed solo that reminds me of Sonny Clark – creating interesting phrases that aren’t too ‘notey.’

Harold ‘Tina’ Brooks is one of the most unjustly ignored figures in jazz history. Tina was both a master tenor saxophonist and an outstanding composer. Minor Move comes from his 1958 Blue Note recording of the same name, and was also recorded as Medina on alto saxophonist Jackie McLean’s album “Jackie’s Bag.” I love Paul Gill’s creative accompaniment during the Latin sections. Paul is one of the steadiest bass players I’ve worked with. Paul has a big beat, gets a great sound, and makes any tempo groove. A New Yorker via Baltimore, Paul has worked with saxophonists Stanley Turrentine, Eric Alexander and Benny Golson, trumpeter Tom Harrell, and vocalist Jon Hendricks. He has also recorded with the Richie Vitale Quintet and toured with vocalist Diana Krall.

The inclusion of My Ideal is inspired by one of my favorite trumpeters, Kenny Dorham (writer of Asiatic Raes from “My Conception”), who recorded a classic version of this standard. Like Kenny, Grant plays right from the heart – articulating and phrasing like few jazz musicians today.

Michael MelitoJack, Be Nimble is Paul Hofmann’s tribute to Dr. Jack Presberg – a great supporter of jazz in Rochester, NY and a fine pianist in his own right. After the quick melody, Paul takes a Bud Powell-like solo. Paul has absorbed the vocabulary of the important pianists while still retaining a clear musical identity. I love the way he digs deep into this one, spitting out two breakneck choruses of pure bebop imagination. After studying at the Eastman School of Music, Paul has been very active as a recording artist, columnist, performer (including with vocalists Kevin Mahogany and Karrin Allyson), and president of MHR Records. Grant follows Paul, weaving a very creative solo, and leading us into some eights before we take the head out.

Bassist Butch Warren composed The Way I Feel. To my knowledge, this piece has only been recorded once before – again, by Jackie McLean. It’s a simple, heartfelt melody that I’ve always enjoyed playing.

Bella Carolina is, for my money, one of the most beautiful melodies written in recent years. This Latin tune comes from the pen of trumpeter Joe Magnarelli (featured later on our bonus track). After a terrific piano statement from Paul, Grant follows with a solo of great originality.

The Closer came about from Paul Hofmann’s suggestion that we write something together. I composed the first half while Paul came up with the rest. We then agreed this one has a ‘closing theme’ feeling to it – thus, its title. Since I couldn’t settle on which version I like best, I’ve included both takes.

The CD closes with Bolivia, recorded during the “My Conception” sessions three years earlier and featuring Joe Magnarelli on flugelhorn. Joe’s interesting solo begins with some nice space before his musical phrases build to a climax – demonstrating why people such as Harry Connick, Jr. and The Vanguard Orchestra have employed his great talent. From Syracuse, Joe later moved downstate to New York. He’s played with jazz greats Lionel Hampton and Brother Jack McDuff among others. Joe’s four albums for Criss Cross include his latest, “Mr. Mags.” As the original recording of Bolivia featured one of my favorite drummers of all time, Billy Higgins (who, sadly, left us recently), this version is my tribute to him. Billy had one of the most beautiful touches ever on the drums and was truly a supportive musician. He will always be an inspiration.

Michael Melito


“’Bout Time!” is the third MHR disc released by this ensemble (preceded by Mike’s “My Conception” and my own “Topsy Turvy”), and we especially thank those of you who own each album. One thing I sincerely appreciate whenever recording with these fantastic musicians is that our results incline to be ‘conversational.’ The focus centers on our having thoughtful musical interchanges rather than on being avant-garde ‘for the sake of being new.’

Because Mike is such a mature drummer he simply doesn’t feel the need to impress us with a lot of flash, although there are surely moments when he deems it musically appropriate to bring his technique to the fore. As a rule, Mike confidently supports the group with great taste and time, helping establish a consistent climate for each of us when creating our own performances.

Mike’s soloing also rates with those of the greatest jazz drummers, past or present. Fortunately, this aspect of his talent is on full display here – whether he’s heard playing short intros, ‘trading eights’ with Grant and me, or even playing complete sections alone (Mike takes two outstanding solo choruses in The Way I Feel). His sensitive brush playing, featured in the two standards, is also the epitome of refinement and swing.

Mike, you’re a musician of great and rare artistry – and it was an honor contributing to this project. As always.

Paul Hofmann