"You can perceive the beauty and ingenuity of Irving's music whenever he places his fingertips on the keyboard, his voicing and chord constructions as surprising as they are expressive."
-- Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune.
Pianist Robert Irving III and vocalist Chris Murrell toured together as teenagers in a highly jazz influenced contemporary gospel group in North Carolina. As Irving went on to collaborate with the legendary Miles Davis for nine-years, Murrell became the featured vocalist for the Count Basie Orchestra from 1986-2004 garnering a Grammy Award and a subsequent additional nomination. The last time Irving and Murrell shared the same stage was in 1997 at the America Haus in Hamberg, Germany which is documented on the recording, “Full Circle” on Negal Heyer Records-Germany. Although they have performed together at family and private events over the years, Irving says, “Our engagement at Winter’s Jazz Club certainly has the potential of becoming our Full Circle-2” (alluding to a possible live recording).
That full circle has widened: Marlene Rosenberg has a history of working with great vocalists including Joe Williams who remained a special guest of the Count Basie Orchestra. Joe always invited Chris Murrell to share the stage and subsequently passed the torch to him in quite a literal sense. Irving adds to this, “Much of the music on my critically acclaimed CD, New Momentum was developed while collaborating with Marlene Rosenberg in a trio setting. We plan to revisit some of the highlights of that recording during our performance at Winter’s.”
It is completely befitting and quite fortuitous that these three accomplished leaders come together for this rare special night of music creation. Irving and company plan to celebrate the close of Black History Month with Irving’s arrangements of compositions by Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis; and this just to warm things up before Chris Murrell takes to the stage as he transverses Latin, modern jazz swing, new blues and surprise gems from the American popular songbook all reinterpreted through potent prism of this consummate collaborative collective.
For those who have never experienced the golden signature sound of Murrell, Tony Bennett says, “Chris Murrell is one of my favorite singers.” Howard Reich recently wrote of the piano of Robert Irving III, "The beauty of sound enriched by his harmonies and startling quality of his tone clusters, Irving’s practically orchestral approach to the keyboard surely was enriched by his tenure with Davis.” Legendary drummer Ed Thigpen wrote of Marlene Rosenberg, “What makes Marlene special is her strength and depth of understanding of music. In a world of clones, she has managed to emerge as her own person with her own sound and feel...her time feel is steady and she swings like mad."