Bob Merrill Album Release Show for Cheerin' Up the Universe
Featuring: Bob Merrill - Trumpet, Vocals
Russ Gershon - Reeds, Flute
Freddy Bryant - Guitar
Laurence Hobgood - Piano
John Lockwood - Bass
George Schuller - Drums
Vicente Lebron - Percussion
Trumpeter/vocalist Bob Merrill is a veteran performer who has been making great music in the New York area for decades, but got his professional musical start in Boston while studying at Harvard and the New England Conservatory. He plays in the swing-to-bop-to-pop zone with as much excitement and joy as any trumpeter working, and in the great lineage of singing trumpet players from Pops on down, Merrill is an engaging entertainer.
Making his Regattabar debut in celebration of his recently released album "Cheerin' Up The Universe" on Accurate Records, Merrill has assembled a world-class cast, starting with the rhythm section consisting of pianist Laurence Hobgood (who certainly knows how do accompany a vocalist after a decade plus with Kurt Elling), John Lockwood on bass, George Schuller on drums, and Freddy Bryant on guitar. Either/Orchestra leader Russ Gershon, who performs on the album, plays all the reed instruments and the group is rounded out by E/O master conguero Vicente Lebron.
Merrill's return to Boston is his first appearance as a leader since 1989, when he and Russ Gershon assembled a band for a gig at the Middle East Club in Central Square, featuring John Medeski and Chris Wood - the first time Medeski and Wood played together. They later added Billy Martin and became the popular group Medeski, Martin & Wood. "Cheerin' Up the Universe" (featuring Medeski) presents a wonderfully broad selection of music Merrill has loved since his teen years, when he studied with Red Rodney.
Long-time jazz fans in Boston will remember Merrill as the originator of the "Jazz at the Pudding" series of concerts in Harvard Square in the early '80's, which presented everyone from Illinois Jacquet to Archie Shepp, just a few years before the birth of the Regattabar. In addition Merrill led the Harvard Jazz Band and was a member of legendary pianist Jaki Byard's "Apollo Stompers."
"Cheerin' Up the Universe is a tunefest of the first order....A positive, affirming musical experience...Merrill assembled an impressive band to translate his feelings about the music to the listener and uses crackling fresh arrangements to do so....His singing is infectious and his trumpet playing is top notch....Merrill accomplishes all with a smile on his face, and obviously, in his heart." - C. Michael Bailey for AllAboutJazz.com