New Release from the Jon De Lucia Octet with Ted Brown

Well it’s finally time to release 10 tracks from the concert at the Drawing Room in Brooklyn we did with the great Ted Brown. The Jon De Lucia Octet recorded this, their first concert, in the fall of 2016. We’ve played a lot of music since then, but this one was special. You can read the notes below, and order the CD here at, or on CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes.



“Some jazz listeners disdain “West Coast jazz, “cool jazz,” or any music in the neighborhood of Lennie Tristano (not just East 32nd Street) as so cerebral that it’s barely defrosted.  Jon De Lucia’s Octet shows how wrong that perception is: this music is warm, witty, embracing, not Rubik’s Cube scored for saxophones.  Rather, the playful, tender spirit of Lester Young dances through everyone’s heart.  This impassioned group swings, even when the players are intently looking at the score.  For this gig, the Octet had a great spiritual asset in the gently fervent playing of Ted Brown, a Sage of melodic invention.  Also, this session was recorded at one of New York City’s now-lost shrines, Michael Kanan and Stephanie Greig’s “The Drawing Room,” a sacred home for all kinds of music.  I am grateful that Jon De Lucia has created this group: so delightful in whatever they play.  You’ll hear it too. “

– Michael Steinman,



Liner Notes:


Saxophonist Jon De Lucia met the great tenorist Ted Brown in 2014, and got to play with him soon after. He was and is struck by the pure lyricism and honesty in his improvising. One of the original students of forward thinking pianist Lennie Tristano in the 1940s, Brown, along with Lee Konitz, is among the last of this great school of players. Later, when De Lucia discovered some of Jimmy Giuffre’s original scores from the Lee Konitz meets Jimmy Giuffre session of 1959, which Brown and Konitz both participated in, he knew he wanted to put a band together to play this music with Ted.

Thus the Jon De Lucia Octet was formed. A Five Saxophone and Rhythm lineup with unique arrangements by the great clarinetist/saxophonist Jimmy Giuffre. The original charts featured Lee Konitz on every track, and the first step in 2016 was to put a session together reuniting Brown and Konitz on these tunes. An open rehearsal was held at the City College of New York, Lee took the lead and played beautifully while Ted took over the late Warne Marsh’s part. This then led to the concert you have here before you.

De Lucia steps into Lee’s shoes, while the features have been reworked to focus on Brown, including new arrangements of his tunes by De Lucia and daughter Anita Brown. The rest of the band includes a formidable set of young saxophonists, including John Ludlow, who incidentally was a protege of the late Hal McCusick, who also played on the original recording session of Lee Konitz meets Jimmy Giuffre, and plays the alto saxophone, now inherited, used in the session. Jay Rattman and Marc Schwartz round out the tenors, and Andrew Hadro, who can be heard to great effect on Venus De Milo, plays the baritone. In the rhythm section, Ray Gallon, one of NYC’s most swinging veterans on the piano, Aidan O’Donnell on the bass and the other legend in the room, the great Steve Little on the drums. Little was in Duke Ellington’s band in 1968, recording on the now classic Strayhorn tribute …and His Mother Called Him Bill, before going on to record all of the original Sesame Street music and much more as a studio musician.

The show was sold out at Brooklyn’s now defunct Drawing Room, operated by Michael Kanan and Stephanie Grieg. Along with the music previously mentioned, De Lucia had recently acquired some of the original parts from Gerry Mulligan’s Songbook session, which featured Konitz, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims and Allen Eager in another great sax section recording, this time arranged by Bill Holman. Here the band plays “Sextet,” and “Venus De Milo” from that session. Brown, here making the band a Nonet, plays beautifully and takes part in every tune, reading parts even when not soloing. Not included in this CD is an extended take of Konitz’s “Cork n’ Bib” and Giuffre’s piece for three clarinets, “Sheepherders.” Possible bonus releases down the line!

Since this concert, the Octet has taken on a life of its own, covering the repertoire of the original Dave Brubeck Octet, more of the Mulligan material, Alec Wilder, and increasingly De Lucia’s own material. De Lucia continues searching for rare and underperformed material, rehearsing regularly in NYC and performing less regularly. One can hope there is much more to come from this talented group!

Preview tracks on CD Baby or Gut String Records!

Jazz Clubs Map: A Look at Strykers

Almost exactly two years ago I published my Google Map of New York’s Historic Jazz Clubs here on the site. In an effort to dig a little deeper I thought I would start a monthly series featuring one of the clubs from the map. I want to start with some of the lesser known clubs that have little to no information about them on the internet. This month: Strykers. There was a nice little feature on Strykers and the UWS jazz scene in the New York Times in 1973. I’m not sure if there has been one since then. The NYT article describes Strykers as “an immaculate little bar with a working brick‐faced fireplace…tucked so unobtrusively into the bottom of brownstone at 103 West 86th Street that new customers are constantly telling Olivia Taylor, the soft‐voiced manager and part‐owner of the room, ‘We live just around the corner, but we didn’t even know you were here.'” The article also mentions that the name Strykers comes from the now forgotten name of the neighborhood around 86th and Columbus, Strykers Bay and opened in 1970. The club was gone by the end of the 1970s and currently houses a spa:

Yin Spa, Strykers
103 W 86th St.

Lee Konitz, who still lives right down the street, was a regular performer here on Wednesday and Thursday nights in the 1970s, as was Chet Baker. Guitarists Joe Puma and Chuck Wayne had a weekly duo engagement. Another listing from New York magazine shows that a Bill Mintz headlined here in 1975. I asked Billy about the club:

It was a small bar, I had a steady Thursday for 2 years with the Eddie Daniels Quartet:
Eddie, me, Rick Laird on bass and Andy Laverne on Fender Rhodes…Then that quartet made a record called Brief Encounters which Rudy Van Gelder engineered. Strykers was a great moment in late 70’s jazz in New York.


From Bill Crow:

I played there several times with Joe Puma, and once with Joe and Chuck Wayne. I seem to remember it being run by a tough lady with a big dog. I don’t remember when it closed.

Drummer Steve Little also remembers playing there with Joe Puma and Chuck Wayne:

These kids were staring at me while we played. It was the middle of the rock era, and and they had never seen anyone play brushes before!

Ted Brown recalls rehearsing for a gig at Strykers with Lee Konitz around 1976 and showing up only to find that the club had closed. It apparently reopened a little while later but only for a year or so.

Lee himself fondly remembers the club, saying that he “enjoyed playing there in different contexts, finally with a bigger band.”

That bigger band was the Lee Konitz Nonet, a great but short lived band that released a couple of records and in fact recorded one tribute to Strykers, “Strykers Dues.”




I’m getting the impression that there was no piano in Strykers!

From a 1976 NYT listing:

Stryker’s is a small jazz club whose roster of performers changes frequently during the week. Tonight, the pianist David Lahm, his trio and Janet Lawson, a vocalist, will appear. There is a $2.50 music charge, and beverage.; begin—with beer —at $2. Information: 8748754, and you may have to keep trying.

Lenny Kaye describes seeing Chet Baker there:

In the mid ’70s, I went to a small cellar jazz club on West 86th Street called Stryker’s to see him. There, with a bare minimum of notes, hardly breathing through his horn, he made every inflection count, drawing from his tortured soul the mea culpa of his many transgressions.

Here is an account from drummer Artt Frank’s site:

The following quotes were made by Chet Baker, during an interview I conducted with him at Stryker’s Pub in NYC in 1974: “Artt’s been with me since my comeback in Hollywood in 1968. I love the way he plays, man. ‘Specially the way he plays brushes. Shelly (Manne) was great too… but he didn’t have Artt’s transmission… you know… ? Artt’s the only cat I know who can play brushes at stick level, and at any tempo! Then there’s Harold (Danko), and Cameron (Brown), and those three cats are the most swingin’, sensitive and supportive players I’ve ever worked with. And for the way I play here (Stryker’s pub), in a club format, I like to stretch out and do a lot of burnin’ tempos. And it’s a great comfort to know those three cats are always there. They make it easy for me to respond. It’s real comfortable man, you know….?

I would love to hear more from anyone who remembers Strykers and might possibly even have some pictures as I can’t seem to find any from when it was open. Hopefully this article gives some insight onto what was happening on the UWS in the 1970s jazz scene.




Jon De Lucia Octet Concert with Ted Brown



I am very excited to share an upcoming concert with you all. Over the last few years I have been collecting and transcribing music from the Lee Konitz Meets Jimmy Giuffre album, an album from 1959 that I’ve always loved. I have 5 of the 9 charts, and to augment I have a couple of my own arrangements along with some recent finds from the Library of Congress that I mentioned in my previous post about Gerry Mulligan. There aren’t that many recordings for 5 saxes and rhythm, so it’s been fun finding music to add to the rep. I have been fortunate to be in contact with Lee about this project, and we were even able to have a nice reading session up at City College this past spring. And through it all I’ve been talking and working with the great tenorist Ted Brown, who played on the original recording.

Ted will be our special guest for the upcoming concert at the Drawing Room in Downtown Brooklyn and I truly hope you can make it. Tickets are very limited, and you can get them here: Eventbrite. Please also check out the Facebook event: Jon De Lucia Octet. This will be a great intimate venue for this music, with a great band. I’ll be playing lead alto on this one, and on second we’ll have John Ludlow, a great young altoist and protege of Hal McKusick, who played on the original Giuffre/Lee recording. John actually plays the horn used on the recording! Tenors will be covered by the great Jay Rattman and Marc Schwartz, with Ted as guest soloist. Andrew Hadro joins us on bari. In the rhythm section I am honored to have Ray Gallon on piano, along with Aidan O’Donnell and the brilliant Steve Little on the drums.

The date is October 22nd, a Saturday evening. This is sure to be a special performance and I hope you will join us!

I will also mention that we have a little series going in October. Marc Schwartz’s Octet, in which I play tenor, will be at the Drawing Room the following weekend, on the 29th. Here’s his event listing: Facebook Event.

Zoot Sims the Altoist

I recently had a chance to stop in to the Library of Congress and look for some scores by Jimmy Giuffre. I acquired his pieces for Clarinet and Orchestra and an as yet unrecorded Clarinet and String Quartet piece. While I was there I had a little extra time to dig in to the extensive Gerry Mulligan collection that they have, consisting of over 200 boxes of music and correspondence. I only had time to pick one box, so I saw in the finder’s guide a chart for Venus de Milo, of Birth of the Cool fame, and went with that one. Inside I was excited to find a set of complete parts with the names Lee, Art, Coop, Willis, and Gerry on them, some also said Zoot.

Mulligan Turnstile Parts

This was for a series of charts for five saxes, the above names referring to Lee Konitz, Art Pepper, Bob Cooper, (Willis) Bill Holman, and Gerry Mulligan. I had never heard of a record by this band so I felt I had discovered something of import, perhaps as yet unheard music. Instead, I discovered that these were the charts for The Gerry Mulligan Songbook released on Pacific Jazz in 1957. Instead of the above named saxists, the recording features Lee, then Zoot Sims on second alto, Allen Eager and Al Cohn on tenors, and Gerry. The charts are great simple blowing affairs by Bill Holman, a couple of which we will perform on October 22nd at the Drawing Room. I bring this up as a lead in to today’s topic, Zoot Sims’ alto playing.

Zoot Sims Plays Alto

Certainly known more as a tenor player, Zoot Sims plays alto on a few recordings, mostly his own, but this was the first time I had heard him in a section on alto. His solos are a strong substitute for Art Pepper, who was apparently intended for the session, and in fact I would say stylistically the two are quite similar, deriving from Lester Young rather than Charlie Parker. Here is Zoot on track 1 from the Gerry Mulligan Songbook, “Four and One Moore.”




Paul Desmond always claimed Zoot as one of his favorite players, and one can hear some similarities in feel and vibrato, while also being generally more propulsive than most of Paul’s playing.

Zoot also made a couple of novelty albums with new overdubbing technology, namely Zoot Sims Plays Four Altos, with arrangements by George Handy. You can hear a bit on Amazon here:

Bassist Bill Crow told me that when they recorded this, Zoot improvised on one alto, then gave the recording to George Handy, who transcribed it and voiced it for 4 altos. When he brought the arrangements in for Zoot to record, he had voiced every single note, creating some tricky lines. Zoot complained that he wouldn’t be able to play it, so George simplified the parts a bit. The result is this unusual record, but it does feature some great alto playing by Zoot.

One can find examples scattered throughout the 50’s before Zoot focused on the tenor, and occasionally soprano. Here is one I just discovered today, another overdubbing experiment:


I love this particularly Lesterian lineage of alto players, that also includes people like Bud Shank, who’s live at the Haig recording especially swings, and of course Art Pepper, and in a way Benny Carter and Cannonball Adderley,  alto players that are really descended from the swing era.. I’ll talk more about lineage in next week’s post, but I encourage you to check out more Zoot Sims on alto. And please do share any others I don’t know about in the comments!





Wrapping Up the School Year

This has been quite the spring, finishing up my Masters here at City College in the next couple of weeks and having some amazing musical opportunities. I have yet to share on here a little bit of our reading session with Lee Konitz and Ted Brown, which we had at the College, playing the music of Jimmy Giuffre which they recorded in 1959. That experience, playing next to those guys on this music that I’ve listened to so much over the years, is hard to describe! We have yet to book a show for that group in the city but I hope to soon.

Today I just wanted to share Michael Steinman’s post covering my graduate recital a few weeks ago. Here is the link: Jazz Lives.

And here is one of the tunes we played. We were honored to have Steve Little on this, and Ray Gallon as well. Once I have finished my work here at the school I will return to this blog in earnest. Thanks for listening!