Tom Saunders' Midwest All Stars

Live at the Firefly
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The music on this CD is representative of what this band is all about. We recorded this live so it would be just what you would hear if you were in our audience, mistakes and all. I have talked to a lot of people and discovered that there are many who prefer live recordings over studio projects. They say that a live recording recreates how they heard the band in the first place. I am partial to studio recordings myself, as we have the opportunity to clean up all the mistakes. There aren't many, but if we had been in a studio there wouldn't be any.

In our quest to capture the band live we approached Susan Chastain, owner of a wonderful little jazz club called the Firefly in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Paul Keller works there all the time when he's not on the road, so we were familiar with the club. Susan is a jazz singer herself, so she knew exactly how to make The Firefly one of the best jazz clubs it the country. Everything was there for us including a beautiful grand piano, which is hard to find in today’s world. When we hit the stage at The Firefly, the place was packed with jazz fans.

Everyone in the band had a hand in selecting the music for this session. It's a mixture of the most requested tunes by our audiences and feature tracks selected by the musicians. We played the always asked for “I’ve Found A New Baby", as my daughter Jeanne gave birth to premature twins, Ethan Roscoe Weaver and Madeline Grace Weaver, two weeks before this session. Paul Keller's wife Michelle, gave birth to their son, Nathaniel Thomas Keller several days before, so we dedicate "New Baby" to them. Eddie Higgins selected the beautiful Claude Thornhill theme "Snowfall” for his feature. Jim chose "Over The Rainbow" and I picked "One Hundred Years From Today", all of which are ballads. We like to play those too. We hope you like the mixture we’ve put together. We had a lot of fun recording this, as we always do when this band gets together. Now it’s your turn to have fun listening!

The Midwest All Stars is a group of world class players that was put together to play at the prestigious Sacramento Jazz Jubilee. This particular festival presents an all star category that features a band from the East Coast, West Coast, and the Midwest areas of the United States. Each year the personnel of these bands changes somewhat, in order to bring new faces to the festival. Roger Krum, the executive director of the Jubilee, would discuss these changes with the leaders every year to determine which players would be used in each of these bands. Once the combination of musicians you hear on this CD was used, the chemistry between these men was so good that there was no need for any further changes. The Midwest All Stars has been as is since 1999.