"Meet Me at Minton's"
Described as a modern day Hoagy Carmichael, Grammy-nominated pianist, composer and impresario JC Hopkins has cultivated a multigenerational ensemble of jazz titans to produce “Meet Me At Minton’s; a compilation of classic big band hits amongst a string of scintillating originals. Featuring jazz’s poet laureate Jon Hendricks, alongside Grammy-award winning vocalist Andy Bey, Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition winner Jazzmeia Horn and co-founder of legendary funk group Sister Sledge, Kathy Sledge, the aptly titled “Meet Me At Minton’s” displays a powerhouse of esteemed vocalists, ranging from emerging prodigies to accomplished veterans of jazz. To mark the momentous release of this historically sentimental album, The JC Hopkins Biggish Band will be returning to the Slipper Room in New York City on Wednesday, August 2nd at 7pm. Home to jazz diva Norah Jones and pop queen, Lady Gaga, The Slipper Room can also be considered the home of the JC Hopkins Biggish Band, as it’s where they launched their original residency over a decade ago.
Their sophomore release “Meet Me At Minton’s” is launched by vocalist Brianna Thomas, alongside solos by Troy Roberts and Bruce Harris on Hopkins’ original “Remember When”. On “Suddenly (In Walked Bud)”, jazz legend Jon Hendricks trades 4’s with Charles Turner and Brianna Thomas, in a generational hopping scat. Andy Bey’s evocative vocal on the Hendricks/Monk tune, “Looking Back (Reflections)” which features harpist Brandee Younger, is spine tingling. Alicia Olatuja’s lends her vocals to Hopkins beautiful composition “Dreams Come True”, which was previously covered by Norah Jones and Willie Nelson. The special chemistry between Charles Turner and Queen Esther are featured as they perform the title track “Meet Me at Minton’s” and the Billie Holiday classic “Spreadin’ Rhythm Around.” Young guitar phenom Solomon Hicks also turns in outstanding performances. The album is then drawn to a close by Jazzmeia Horn and Jon Hendricks as they perform a beautiful duet of the Hendricks/Monk ballad “How I Wish (Ask Me Now)”. Over the cour
se of this album the listener is treated to swinging arrangements comparable to Tadd Dameron and Billy May and solos by a top notch band that features saxophonist Claire Daly, drummer Charles Goold, bassist Noah Jackson, trombonist Corey Wallace, saxophonist Christopher McBride and vibraphonist Joseph Doubleday.
Alongside their valuable contributions to this project, these musicians have developed themselves into universally lauded performers, in each of their own individual careers. Concord recording artist, Jazzmeia Horn was last year’s winner of the Thelonious Monk Prize. Her two features on the album - Hopkins’ original "What is Love" and her beautiful and touching duet with Mr. Hendricks - display her virtuosity and versatility. Her relationship with Jon is also very moving as their age difference spans decades - 70 to be exact. Alicia Olatuja, who joined Gregory Porter on his recent Grammy winning album, performs Hopkins’ Grammy nominated ballad, “Dreams Come True”. Rapidly rising star, Brianna Thomas, who is a regular at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, opens this album by providing her fierce and killer vocals to "Remember When". 21 year old, Solomon Hicks was made lead guitarist for the Cotton Club Orchestra at the age of 13, and as can be heard on this album, has continued to hone his skill and accumulate upon his success as a musician. This album serves as a display of the diligently thought-through and perfectly arranged collaborations between the wide-ranging spectrum of jazz talents, both renowned and emerging, on today’s scene.
Founded in 2001, The JC Hopkins Biggish Band has performed with and accompanied a wide range of innovative vocalists including Norah Jones, Tony Bennett, Jon Hendricks, Andy Bey, Johnny O’Neal, Elvis Costello, Mose Allison, Madeleine Peyroux, and Martha Wainwright. Their 2005 debut “Underneath the Brooklyn Moon” garnered critical acclaim and positioned the group as mainstays on the New York jazz and big band scene.
In addition to the star-studded performances heard on the album, “Meet Me at Mintons” serves as an acknowledgement to the talents of photographer Grayson Danzic, who has just put together a beautiful book “Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill” for Thames and Hudson Publications, which features never before scene photos of Billie Holiday.
"Killer stuff throughout, this is a wild show band strutting their stuff in the highest order." Read the full review here.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"With a rotating lineup of eight singers, backed by fifteen musicians on the bandstand, pianist and leader JC Hopkins serves up a mixed bag of standards and original compositions, enhanced by stellar arrangements, performed with a commanding sense of swing." Read the full review here.
"There are many highlights here but for me of special note is Andy Bey on “Reflections”, complimented by a lovely Clare Daly baritone sax solo. Well worth your time and effort and resources." Read the full review here.
NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD
"The arrangements by Wayne Tucker, Corey Wallace, J. Walter Hawkes and Chuck MacKinnon are uniformly excellent, the band's musicianship is impressive and all of the singers are in top form during this enjoyable set." Read the full review here.
RAUL DA GAMA
JAZZ DA GAMA
"Each member of this well-oiled machine draws just the right amount of spotlight to himself; enough, that is, to ensure that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Read the full review here.
"13 tracks, any number of vocalists, engaging arrangements and knock 'em-dead swing. What's not to like?" Read the full review here.
GEORGE W. HARRIS
"Pianist JC Hopkins puts together a swinging big band that features punchy reads of swinging standards, and with vocalists including Andy Bey, Jon Hendricks, Queen Ester and newcomer Jazzmeia Horn, a solid hour plus of toe tapping tunes makes the music go down easily." Read the full review here.