Michael Weiss

Al Kiger RIP

13 posts in this topic

June 19, 1932 - July 20, 2013

I owe much to Al during my formative years in Indiana. One of the first of many gracious mentor figures I've encountered who freely gave encouragement and taught purely by example.

Mercer Ellington gave me the job of transcribing "Stompy Jones" when the band came through Bloomington in 1980. When I got in a jam trying to hear inner voices in a few passages, Al bailed me out without a second thought and finished the chart like a real pro.

Around 1979-1981 I had the opportunity to hire Al, Pookie Johnson and Benny Barth on a number of gigs in and around Bloomington. I had no business being a bandleader in such company. But these guys played with the same professionalism they would accord a peer.

We got back in touch four years ago. He moved to Austin to be with his daughter last year.

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One of those little-known George Russell guys ... all of them darn fine players! I guess he was really more than that, but that's where I first heard him (and David Baker and Dave Young and Paul Plummer) and that somehow stuck.

r.i.p.

(edited to complete sentence)

Edited by king ubu

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What Ubu said.

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Mercer Ellington gave me the job of transcribing "Stompy Jones" when the band came through Bloomington in 1980. When I got in a jam trying to hear inner voices in a few passages, Al bailed me out without a second thought and finished the chart like a real pro.

Would very much like to know what the "answer" to those puzzles were, if you can remember them.

Otherwise, all I really know is the Russell stuff. But guys who are ready for anything, people with a broad skill set, those guys are getting to be fewer and farther between, it seems. Anytime any one of them passes, it's a change in the fabric of the overall music world. Won't say "loss" necessarily, but definitely a change, as "what is" slowly becomes "what was".

RIP.

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Mercer Ellington gave me the job of transcribing "Stompy Jones" when the band came through Bloomington in 1980. When I got in a jam trying to hear inner voices in a few passages, Al bailed me out without a second thought and finished the chart like a real pro.

Would very much like to know what the "answer" to those puzzles were, if you can remember them.

Otherwise, all I really know is the Russell stuff. But guys who are ready for anything, people with a broad skill set, those guys are getting to be fewer and farther between, it seems. Anytime any one of them passes, it's a change in the fabric of the overall music world. Won't say "loss" necessarily, but definitely a change, as "what is" slowly becomes "what was".

RIP.

Can't really give you more specifics than what I stated. I had trouble hearing the exact orchestration in spots and Al filled in the missing parts. In fact I just looked at the score now and it's clear which notes are in Al's hand and which notes are in mine.

He even filled in specific notes for bass instead of just chord changes - like a pro.

Agree with you wholeheartedly about this class of musicians and the void they leave when they leave.

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Latter-day Paul Plummer, until he had to stop playing (teeth problems IIRC) was excellent and quite individual. Kiger's work with the Blue Wisp Big Band of Cincinnati was excellent, too.

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Ok, the issue was orchestration, then, not notes? Because, as you know, some of those Ellington/Strayhorn voicings kinda defy "logic". if you know what I mean, and figuring out which note (or two) is in there that gives it that sound can really bend your ear.

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Ok, the issue was orchestration, then, not notes? Because, as you know, some of those Ellington/Strayhorn voicings kinda defy "logic". if you know what I mean, and figuring out which note (or two) is in there that gives it that sound can really bend your ear.

The notes that bend your ear, odd half-steps or chromaticism, I could hear. It's the simple chords with eight horns that's sometimes difficult to assign who's playing what.

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Sad to hear this. Wish I'd known to get in touch with him before I left Austin.

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I love those George Russell records and he was a big part of them.

Thanks, Mr. Kiger.

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His contribution to George Russell's 'Stratusphunk' (also 'Jazz in the Space Age') was a revelation!

Wish his jazz career had been illustrated in plenty more albums.

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Only familiar with him from the George Russell recordings but sorry to hear this.

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More sad news, some very fine playing with George Russell.

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