In the summer of 2011 Josh went into the recording studio to record his 2nd jazz album of all original compositions. The result was Into the Night, an album that again features the talents of pianist Jackie Warren, bassist Peter Dominguez and drummer Ron Godale. In addition, the album features fellow Oberlin Alum and trombonist Andy Hunter, and local saxophonist Steve Kortyka.
Into the Night was recorded on June 2nd and 3rd of 2011 in Oberlin Ohio, in the brand new recording studio in Oberlin’s Bertram and Judith Kohl Building – the new home for jazz in Oberlin. It was recorded by the multi Grammy ® award winning recording and production company 5/4 productions. Since its release, Into the Night has received significant national radio airplay reaching the JazzWeek radio chart at #9, CMJ Jazz at #5,and CMJ Jazz year end 2012 chart at #44!
Find out more by listening to Josh’s interview on GLT Jazz Next where he talks about each song and his inspiration for composing.
Into the Night has received wide critical acclaim with critics saying:
This album is dedicated to the memory and teachings of Dr. Wendell Logan.
In 2010, the Oberlin Conservatory opened its new multi-million dollar state-of-the-art Bertram and Judith Kohl Building to serve as the home for its highly-regarded Jazz Studies Department. This gleaming facility stands as a monument to the work of the late Dr. Wendell Logan, who founded the department in 1973. Logan, a brilliant composer and instrumentalist, toiled unwaveringly for decades in the Department’s previous home—an aging gymnasium—to build a program that has become one of the nation’s finest. Sadly, Logan passed away unexpectedly a few weeks after the Kohl Building’s grand opening.
While that magnificent structure stands as a lasting legacy to Logan’s achievements, a good case could be made that Into the Night, the compact disc you hold in your hands, provides an even greater testament to Logan’s contributions to jazz.
On his second session as a band leader, trumpeter Josh Rzepka,an Oberlin Conservatory graduate, leads his fellow Oberlin alumni pianist Jackie Warren and trombonist Andy Hunter, bass player Peter Dominguez (an Oberlin Jazz Studies professor), as well as saxophonist Steve Kortyka and drummer Ron Godale, through a program of original works that embodies what Logan stood for as an educator and musician.
Often in the jazz world, understanding the core elements of the music takes a back seat to indulgent eccentricity disguised as self-expression. Logan demanded that his students really know what they were doing when they climbed onto the bandstand. Not the kind of phony bravado that brings to mind empty pyrotechnics, or self-proclaimed “innovation.” Rather, Logan expected that his students grasp the fundamental notion that mastering the instrument, as well as understanding the importance of swing and the feeling of the blues, allows players to make individual statements that truly carry meaning.
From the first to the last note of Into the Night, Rzepka and his crew demonstrate that this edict has been well absorbed. Throughout the disc,there is a grace and elegance to the music that comes from a confidence in ability, as well as some keen listening to what is happening around you. Hear it in the beautiful restraint the rhythm section shows in accompanying Hunter’s elegiac solo on “Stasis.”
The F-Minor title track uses an unusual ABB song form. The tune features each soloist launching his statement out of a break, which is one of the oldest devices in jazz. There’s a reason players return to it, because in the right hands, it never fails to build excitement. Mission accomplished, with extra credit for anice use of riffing horns providing extra drive under Warren, who always knows whento move from single notes to two hands to bump up the swing.
Josh mines another old jazz tradition of taking the most familiar of songs and making them something fresh on “Twenty-Five.” If the melody sounds familiar, it is because people sing it to you once a year and you in turn, sing it to others for the same reason.
“Salsa Queen” is Josh’s tribute to Jackie. She’s not only a brilliant jazz pianist, but she is known around Cleveland as the “Salsa Queen.” She admits to as she describes it “’salsa-fying’ everything, including Bach.” Josh came to know Jackie through playing together in Sammy DeLeon’s band, which is also the first time Josh had a chance to play with Hunter. The time they spent together is apparent, as everybody has the right feel for the tune. Ron’s work on the piece is a perfect example of understanding how to build the band’s swing from the floor up . . . he keeps everything moving without ever adding an unnecessary stroke.
Clark Terry’s spirit comes to the fore on “Blues for CT” as well as “Liam’s Leaving.” The former is a down home blues in G Major that borrows its turnaround from one of Terry’s pet licks. Kortyka’s solo on “CT” brings Hank Crawford to mind with the kind of bluesy fervor that too many hipsters think is passé (they’re wrong). The latter is a duet that reminds us part of jazz’s appeal is the pure sound of the instruments, in this case the cup-muted trumpet and the deep resonance of Peter’s bass, whose walk has the spring of Walter Page.
There are other delights to be discovered throughout Into the Night, including Josh’s playing on the ballads “Stasis” and “When I’m With You.” Again, it’s easy to hear that he’s a player who understands that the tone you get on your horn tells much of the story. Josh’s is pure and warm and his solos have the unhurried maturity of a much older player.
Dr. Wendell Logan was a man of definite opinions which he didn’t hesitate sharing with his students in no uncertain terms. If you weren’t playing up to par or came unprepared, be ready to hear about it. He also wasn’t afraid to praise his students when they hit the mark. I’d be willing to bet he’d give this disc a very good grade . . . one that Josh and his compatriots acknowledge they wouldn’t have achieved without his guidance. As a jazz fan, I’m glad they listened to Logan. As long as jazz like this is still created, his spirit is still with us.
– Dan Polletta
From 1987 to 2009, ideastream’s Dan Polletta served as the evening jazz host for 90.3 WCPN. He continues his work for ideastream producing reports about jazz and other arts and culture topics for both radio and television.
Here are some reviews that Into the Night received.