Ira Sullivan 

The JMood Records Family is saddened by the loss of Ira Sullivan.  

Not only was Ira a jazz icon, he was a musical elder statesman for the JMood Family. We were introduced to Ira Sullivan by our co-producer Edward Blanco in Miami, Florida. We were on the heels of a successful “live” recording with Roberto Magris at the iconic WDNA Jazz Gallery in Miami, when we began discussing and coordinating a fresh “new” studio recording at the historic Criteria/Hit Factory in Miami, Florida. 

This session was recorded in studio “A” with Grammy Award Winning recording engineer ,Carlos Alvarez and afforded us an opportunity to bring in some “new” JMood Record Jazz Trekkers and friends from the Miami area namely, Jamie Ousley, Rodolfo Zuniga, Shareef Clayton, Mark Colby and the jazz legend Ira Sullivan. 

The project was entitled “SunStone”. Not only was Ira Sullivan reunited with some of his own band members but was able to record with Miami natives Shareef Clayton (New York), Mark Colby (Chicago) and JMood Records International jazz pianist, Roberto Magris from Trieste, Italy.   

For me, I could not ask for more of a dream come true team, than to work with these fantastic musicians, band leaders and hit makers at the legendary Criteria/Hit Factory studios. 

Which brings me back to Ira Sullivan!   

After he agreed to work with us on the session, before, and, also after the session, we maintained a healthy friendship over the past few years. Either I would call him, or he would grace me by calling me. 

I found many chances to pick his brain or inquire about all the legends he had worked with in the past to seek some caveat about these jazz masters and his experience with them and connect me to this jazz tradition I love so much. 

For example, on the last “live” performance I attended in the Kansas City area before Covid-19 shut everything down, featured the music of Dexter Gordon. This performance was attended by his wife, Maxine Gordon who was also promoting her “new” book about her husband, Dexter Gordon.   

After this experience, I was inspired to do some additional research, only to find out Ira Sullivan had performed and recorded with Dexter Gordon! 

Several days later, I called Ira, and inquired about this experience with Dexter. He confirmed the fact, then, added the last performance and conversation they had together in Chicago, when Dexter Gordon informed him of his plans to move to Europe.   

His memory was so vivid, experience so vast and his musical abilities as a multi-instrumentalist is well documented. 

Over the past few years, my wife and I would time our travels to Chicago so we were there at the same time Ira would make his pilgrimage to Chicago to perform at the Jazz Showcase. On these occasions, would meet and have met other amazing musicians and jazz upstarts that Ira would use on his performances or would sit in on these occasions after the Chicago Jazz Festival. These visits would also reunite me with another JMood Records Jazz Trekker in Chicago, Mark Colby, who also greatly admired Ira Sullivan. 

Working with Ira Sullivan was a pleasure and a privilege for me. 

He would end all his conversations with me on the phone or in person with “God Bless”! 

God bless you and your family Ira Sullivan! Thanks for everything.  Rest in peace! 

  

Mark Colby 

The JMood Records Family are saddened by the loss of our friend , Mark Colby. 

I first met Mark Colby in Chicago, 2016 performing at the Brookfield Jazz Society. Some friends of Roberto Magris had assembled a unit to perform when they found out Roberto was coming from Italy to Chicago to open some new opportunities. 

I remember hearing Mark for the first time on this occasion and saying to myself ,“where has this guy been all my life!” His tone ,and technique were great, and, I could sense I was in the presence of a very special talent, without knowing his musical history. 

After the performance, I approached Mark and said how much I loved his playing, and that we need to do some things together. With his quick wit he said, yeah, yeah, yeah…! I said, no man, I really mean this…! I want to record you. We had become friends ever since. 

In 2017, and, for the next few years, I recorded him along with JMood Records International jazz pianist Roberto Magris, and some other great talent, which, also included music icon, Ira Sullivan. 

Ira was also a mentor to Mark in the early years of his music career, even up to this point. The two were reunited in Miami on the “SunStone” project recorded at the historical Criteria/Hit Factory Studio “A” in Miami, Florida. 

Our last performance and recording together was in November 2019. We were in Chicago for a performance at the Jazz Showcase, followed by a studio recording with Eric Hochberg, and, Roberto Magris  (Mark had introduced us to Eric several years prior).  That project is yet to be released entitled, “Shuffling Ivories”, and afterward, we recorded a duo project with Mark entitled, “Side By Side”, with Roberto Magris on piano, and Mark Colby on sax. 

Mark was a musical big brother to me. We talked off and on thru out the years about recording, jazz music history, and most of all life in general. 

Chicago is a tough market for outsiders, artist managers and an independent jazz label like mine.  Several jazz clubs snubbed us. However, Mark went to bat for us on several occasions, assisted us in getting booked at the Jazz Showcase on several occasions, and , we recorded a couple landmark recordings for JMood Records. Mark loved to record, perform, and connect on a deep level. 

My family and I spend quality time with Mark in Fort Lauderdale, FL and Miami talking about his life and time in South Florida, performing with jazz greats of the past, and gigging around in Fort Lauderdale and Miami. 

One funny story that we have talked about off and on and that made us all laugh, was a flight we booked for him from Chicago to Miami for the “SunStone” recording project. 

We were trying out a new airline to save a few bucks, and the whole experience became a nightmare! My wife and I had to run interference several times before he left Chicago to Miami and on his return trip from Miami to Chicago. We apologized, laughed, and made up over a good steak dinner. However, it was the running joke for the rest of our trip in Miami and we promised not to use that airline ever again! 

Mark was quick witted, good humored, friendly, and a talented soloist and musician. His own audio recordings as leader of the past the last few years, showcase his technique, tone, and musicality and knowledge of the audio recording process. 

I suggest checking them out if you have not already. Mark Colby has also been nominated several times around the world by his peers as one of the best sax men of his generation. We last communicated in June and August 2020. 

We will miss him. 

Rest up my friend! 

 

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