Gene Perla

PMR-030 "Bill's Waltz" © 2008

Gene Perla

Bass, Keyboard, Composer, Arranger, Orchestrator, Conductor
Elvin Jones
Don Alias*
NDR BigBand
Fiete Felsch
Lead Alto Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Piccolo
Peter Bolte
Alto Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet
Christof Lauer
Tenor & Soprano Saxophones
Lutz Buechner
Tenor & Soprano Saxophones, Clarinet
Frank Delle
Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinet
Thorsten Benkenstein
Lead Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Ingolf Burkhardt
Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Claus Stoetter
Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Reiner Winterschladen
Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Dan Gottshall
Lead Trombone
Klaus Heidenreich
Steve Trop
Ingo Lahme
Bass Trombone
Vladyslav Sendecki

Bill's Waltz 5:23
Daybread 7:29
Bogota Morning Bird 5:25*
Mickie 7:08
Sweet Rita 5:12
Chi-Chi 6:16*
Eclipse 3:46
Swissterday 3:42
Korinna 6:00
I'm Popeye The Sailor Man 4:15

All Compositions by Gene Perla
Pub. Perla Music (ASCAP) except
"I'm Popeye The Sailor Man" by Sammy Lerner
Pub. Famous Music (ASCAP)
Arranged & Orchestraed by Bill Warfield

Purchasing Information



Bill's Waltz
Bogota Morning Bird
Sweet Rita
I'm Popeye The Sailor Man




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The 30th Annual Jazz Station Poll ~ The Best Jazz of 2008!

Composer: #1 Gene Perla “Bill’s Waltz” – PM
Arranger: #3 Gene Perla
Big Band: #2 NDR BigBand

The Best 10 Jazz Instrumental CDs
#2 Gene Perla, Elvin Jones, Don Alias & NDR BigBand: “Bill’s Waltz” - PM


Thank you so much for the wonderful music you have ever done. I love your CD "3/4"and the way you found out how to let Elvin be still alive.
Stefano Mainetti
It's killer!
Michael Feinberg
Just want to let you know how much I enjoyed the CD. It sounded like a really good band with Elvin IN THE ROOM- no easy feat. Great writing with a sense of humor too- Elvin would approve!
Mike Migliore
The CD came out great. Elvin's playing is strong. Incredible job writing the charts after the drums were done.
Bill Rankin
I love the Bill's Waltz CD... what a task to sync all that up, not to mention orchestrate all of that... very cool!
Jason Smith
What a great record you did! I can't even imagine the amount of work you put into it. Really great arrangemnets, great tunes. Everything everything. If the music business made any sense it would be at the top of the charts. Could you imagine?
Ken Basman
Man you did a great job making that record.
John Cutrone
Thanks for the music. I've been listening to your CD of interesting music and orchestration. Beautiful.
Tomas Janzon
I listened to the first 3 cuts of the CD... Great! Billy's waltz is wonderful. Pure Elvin of course... no one played "3" like he did. Great arrangement, nice textures with the horns. Amazing you put that together the way you did. Must have taken a lot of time and energy, well spent time and energy. I look forward to spending more time with the recording.
Ron Vincent
The music on your CD is fabulous!
Monika Herzig
Great CD! Congratulations on everything, esp your writing.
Mark Levine
Great stuff!
Bill Chelf
Finally took a close listen to this album. Holy shit. This like the best big band record of all time. Great charts, awesome big band, solos, audio engineering quality. You should be very proud of yourself for putting this together. Not easy, right? Your hard work has paid off, my friend.
Tom "Bones" Malone
Great!!!! Man you did a great job making that record.
John Cutrone
The song "Bill's Waltz" - beautiful theme:
Light and airy as a fresh breeze floating in the morning sun, ascending, cresting and landing gently again...
Trumpet picks up the improv in the same spirit, surging and soaring above the saxes and the piano....
Sax: gives it an oriental twang, very enticing.... love those highs! tweeedly deeeeyahhh deeee!
Piano: cool and relaxed over the saxy background! smooth and even-keeled....
Ensemble; picks it up and plays some more with the theme, coming around to climax. Very cool.

A great piece, I love it! It is definitely an earworm for me!
The more I'm hearing the more it's endearing!
Mona Van Vooren
Hey gene--finally getting to you on this music. I LOVE IT! Took me a minute to get with the concept, but you did an amazing job of capturing the essence of the stuff. Your playing, and the arrangements, and the togetherness of the band with the tracks is terrific. Just wanted to let you know even though it`s so long after the fact. It`s always a thrill to hear these guys play, and this setting presents them in a new and different way, but no less satisfying.

Your playing and the arrangements and the togetherness of the band with the tracks is great on the CD. You really got the essence of the stuff. It`s always a thrill to hear those guys and you, and though this setting is new and different, it`s so nice to hear. I didn't like when they did this with Jimi Hendrix. I heard Jimi 3 times live, and just couldn`t get with the concept. And I felt the same with Frank Sinatra, with the current Twyla Tharp project, where they use his vocal tracks, but have a live band playing at the performances along with the tracks.

But there`s something about your project that gets me. I think the essence of it all is there, like I said.
Chip Jackson

It is truly awesome music.
Jess Farlow
The 3/4 album is an absolutely great tribute to Bill Evans. Your work is masterful. The time you spent on this project was obviously worthwhile as the result of your labor is outstanding. The musical selections, arrangements and musicians you put together are perfect for the wonderful result you created. It is a pleasure to listen to the album.
Gerald Gordy
We listened to 3/4 on the way home. Beautiful top to bottom. The writing, arranging, performances... The concept is precious - and the music is beautiful. I never met Elvin - but can't imagine he would have been anything other than elated. What a fine tribute.
Tom Knific
I am giving your wonderful CD air play on KUNV in Las Vegas, NV. When I listen to this work of art, I forget that Elvin wasn't playing live with the band. The CD also touches me in some very deep emotional ways. As a drummer who is a major fan of Elvin, this CD touches me in the heart and soul, at times moving me to tears of joy that you took such a beautiful opportunity to celebrate this great man's playing. Thank you Gene Perla!
John Nasshan
Jazz Host
KUNV 91.5 FM
Las Vegas, NV

1) Sounds just wonderful!
2) It´s a beautiful project, Gene - turned out very good, I assume - you went through some journey here! Congrats and wish you success with it!
Imre Bajka

Jan Hammer
"Bill's Waltz" accompanied me on my drive today to and from the little town of Bethlehem. Great writing. It really works. If I didn't know that Elvin didn't play with the band I would never guess it.
Bob DeVos
Your new CD is wonderful! It's in my car player all the time. Lots of feeling on that recording.
Steve Johns
That's a really interesting story about those Elvin Jones tracks. It's a great CD, my favorite aspect of it is the bass and drums, I guess that might be rare for a big band recording.
Nick Demopoulos
I like your "3/4" album, very nice writing and some intense players, the pianist in particular.
Rick Laird
I like it very much. Nice work.
Thomas DeSteno
I love it.
Harry Smith
I want to thank you so much for sending me your cd. I am almost at a loss for words in describing it. "Fucking phenomenol" comes to mind! The conception of the idea down to the execution of it is really inspiring. The tunes, arrangments and playing are all great. You sound magnificent and Elvin....well I mean it sounds like vintage Elvin - and recorded superbly! I've played some cuts for some of my students and they were all equally astounded so hopefully it will result in some sales! I almost think it wouldn't have even been as cohesive as it is had it been done live. Fantastic - a real testiment to your love for Elvin and of music.
Jeff "Siege" Siegel
Great album and memorial to the most distinctive jazz drummer of his time.
Chuck Murray
Really nice writing - I've been listening to it a lot.
Tom Goehring
Love your new CD. Great stuff.
Derrick Lucas
Awesome CD, Bills Waltz. Love it.
Karl Sterling
1) Wow, that's awesome. Thank you for the great music and spirit.
2) I can only add that everything those guys had to say is true and Your great musicianship has once again created a wonderful soup. All the ingredients are perfectly balanced . Mmmmm good!
Bruce Gertz

Thank you so very much for the disc! I just ordered two more copies to be shipped to my friend in Florida.
I've only listened to the album once so far--so even adjectives like "fantastic" and "extraordinary" don't do it justice, because this album deserves--and will get--many more listens and a full review. I can't wait to turn more people on to it!
Of course I've known your name for years, and have heard you on albums, but I didn't know you could write like that, wow--

Sue Terry
Great album and memorial to the most distinctive jazz drummer of his time.
Chuck Murray
Thanks so much for sending a copy of"Bill's Waltz" which I have enjoyed immensely. I truly love the way you write--the way you use clarinets, the doubling up with bass bone, bass clarinet, and bass, the way you write for the trombone section... I could go on and on and perhaps I should, but hopefully you get the picture. Listening to this CD makes me wish that you and Elvin had done a large ensemble project years ago with your originals and songs such as "Simone."
In any event, "Bill's Waltz" is quite a triumph and you have every right to feel good about the recording. For me, a longtime drummer and an Elvin fan since 1959, I can only marvel at this poignant and powerful reminder of how well and, of course, how distinctly Elvin played brushes, and how strong--not necessarily loud but strong--and smooth his swing feel was.
Special kudos to the NDR Big Band. I think they enjoyed playing your music.
Thanks again for sharing and congratulations on some wonderful music.
Hal Miller
Yes, Gene, I like it.
Thank You, Gene. That´s nice ! I think you did a great job on this. Sound is also much better than we are use to at NDR. So, Congratulations again.
Vladyslav Sendecki (Pianist, NDR BigBand)
The CD is a work of art.
Charlie de la Motte
It sounds very nice to me... I was surprised in a very positive way. It still is a special idea to do that thing with ELVIN... and all Jazzcats know what that means.
Frank Delle (Baritone Sax, NDR BigBand)
You did a great job carrying a worthwhile concept all the way to fruition.
David Lahm
I like it very much... I think the result is wonderful.... and I totally trust you and think that maybe Elvin would have liked it, too. Beautiful tunes... I also like the sound very much... the soloists sound almost like they are playing in my living room. I think he was the greatest jazz drummer ever... and I´m proud that I had the opportunity to be part of this project.
Lutz Buechner (Tenor Sax, NDR BigBand)
I'm on a second listen and I have to say it sounds great. PLUS, I wish Gene could mix all of my trombone solos from now on, I don't often get the sound I want on recordings.
Dan Gottshall (Lead Trombone, NDR BigBand)
I love the sides you did with Elvin.
Jeremy Kahn
Nice, easy-flowing set inexpilicably built around Elvin Jones drum tracks—yet still bursting over with the late master percussionist's deep inner flame and the richly varied hues of the virturally accompanying Perla and NDR BigBand. And the arrangement of "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man" is sure to bring a smile.
Peter Aaron
AAJ (All About Jazz)
This is truly a remarkable recording... and not just the music, but the way in which it was put together over such a long period of time. I can't believe these cats were not all in the same room together recording this! Thank you again for connecting me to this disc of greatness, and I will let you know where I submit the review.
Joe Milliken
LOVE the Elvin CD. Wow!
Michael Stephans
Sitting here in my parent's house on the shore of the North Sea. I love to get out here where it's really quiet. Where I can re-load and get silent! I hear much better after a few days here. I'm more resonant. And what sounds I heard this morning! Your recording is absolutely sublime! Elvin's playing filled me with so much energy that suddenly I just can't wait to get back to the drums in the city. Thank's for putting him so much "in front" in the
mix. His brush-playing especially blows my mind. What's going on?!?! He's in so good shape on this record. You must have had a blast that day in the studio.

It's amazing that the band can keep such a good swing playing "on top" of your takes. I'm sure that has a lot to do with you! To me it sounds like you really tie things together on potentially difficult places. I remember talking to Andy McKee about how he had to "break the Elvin code" in order to make things swing, with that great, great tension that Elvin ALWAYS creates within a beat. You totally got it Gene. It sounds so relaxed and obvious. Nice compositions too, some of the struck me to be "timeless" if you know what I mean. Hope you have more in a drawer somewhere:-)

You must have had some serious considerations about this record since it has taken you almost 22 years to get from that day in the studio to this point. I don't know what those considerations might have been about, and I'm just emerging on the music scene myself, but I can only say this:

Thank's bringing it to life!
Thank's for sharing it with the rest of us!
Thank's for keeping Elvin alive!

All the best wishes, and a thousand thank yous!!

Christian Windfeld Pedersen
Bill's Waltz is tight, man. Particularly "Bogota Morning Bird" - what excitement! Almost every tune = architecturally sound in addition to sounding gorgeous and swingin' the doors off. Combine that with the tributes to Jones and others; the coincidences that led to the band's involvement; the time you spent developing this project: you've got a pretty meaningful statement. C o n g r a t u l a t i o n s. I'm glad to have seen it in its later stages.
Sean Gough
I have always loved the melody of "Popeye The Sailor Man" and this band simply takes this tune and creates a new musical treatise. The solos are (solo is) pure magic and the arrangement is a well 'oyled' piece of work. Gene Perla (Bill Warfield) deserves a 'Seegar" for his efforts. I would give this recording 5 stars in fact, I will!
John Gilbert
A million thanks for sending me "Bill's Waltz". I am completely astonished & marveled, completely in love with the record! 2008 Congrats! Besides the musical value, it's a fascinating project too in terms of production. And when I listen to the CD everything sounds so natural, everything flows so "easily," the NDR band plays so superbly that it seems a "musical miracle" once you read about the whole odyssey of the recording process.
And God bless Danny Gottlieb for having introduced you to NDR! From the first to the last note, it's fascinating. FOR SURE it will place among the Top 10 albums of the year in my annual poll, the most important in Brazil since 1979. Your #1 Brazilian fan,
Arnaldo DeSouteiro
Thanks for sending me 3/4. Wow! It's fabulous; and what a moving tribute to two giants. I'm truly impressed, beautiful. I hope 3/4 (and you) will get the attention it deserves. Merci again for something sweet and tender.
Oscar Schnider
I just had a chance to listen to your CD this weekend and was very impressed. It's really beautiful jazz.
Hal Ponder

Photo by Richard Laird


Wow.... This is great. You really did it (and did it...). I look forward to this. Full of love, and completely in character. See you soon......jeff"
Jeff "Tain" Watts
This is gorgeous! I've been listening to it over and over.
Lee Ann Carpenter
Congrats on the album, thats awsome. Elvin was the man and still is.
Austin Bohlman
It sounds great, and Elivin 's playing is SO intoxicating! The band sounds great, and the solos really work well. I think it's fantastic, and the mix is great.
Danny Gottlieb
Sounds great. I have no idea how you are doing it but the sound and feel are amazing. That's a good band.
Bob Gullotti
You got the gold with that. Yikes, Incredible.
Jerry Bergonzi
Amazing. Fantastic!!
David Liebman
Way to go! I dig the different sonorities in the backgrounds behind each soloist. And, the arrangement has a nice, relaxed curve upward throughout the piece.
Scott Neumann
The song w/Elvin is killing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!yeahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! Congratulations!!!
Leo Genovese
I just listened to Bills Waltz that is killin, absolutely killin.
Jacob Melchoir
Bill's Waltz is great (pianist is tearing it up).
Sean Gough
Great Chart....very tight.....Yeah, I can hear Elvin playing that!!!
Bob Belden
Sounds great - sounds like the Elvin Jones Big Band.
Mark Levine
That track is incredible! Very nice…Elvin…big band. It sounded beautiful. It was great to hear Elvin in that context. Great chart!
Bill Washer
Nice chart. There are some very good cats in the NDR and what a treat to hear Jones (alive & well).
Adam Nussbaum
The production is focused for jazz listeners.
Beat Kennel
Sounds good.
Joe Carter
Great to hear Elvin play in a big band. Writing sounds good. Everything worked.
Ed Neumeister
Great Waltz! love the music.
Jim Lynch
I love it!
Patricia Schneider
That's absolutely fantastic. After drying my eyes listening to Elvin play and how he was the best, and such a great loss he's no longer here, I appreciated all the other outstanding elements of the that recording. It's a beautiful song and arrangement of it, and one solo is better than the next. Lovely recording. You certainly kept the bar raised high with this recent recording. It's beautiful. Perhaps the most amazing thing is how natural and relaxed the overdubbing is to the drum track. That says it all.
Terry Silverlight
Sounds great, I particularly like the piano man. The overall piece is great.
George Ellin
It's great!
Joe Cohn
Sounded very good… Nice lines and ensemble moments and of course... Elvin!"
Terry Plumeri
Thanks for sharing this lovely music.
Ted Gioia
This sounds wonderful.
Tom Lord
I REALLY dig the recording. Great arrangement and, of course, the drums are a pleasure to hear.
Brendan McGeehan
Gorgeous and deftly arranged tune, lyrical and majestic. It works beautifully with Elvin's explosively rolling rhythms which seem to boost the big band style with an uncliched buoyancy. Haven't really heard Elvin with a big band since the Gil Evans sides.
Kevin Lynch
Sounds great to me.
Joe Bourne
Bill's Waltz is really impressive with the live orchestra!
Harry Smith
What a great project.
Tony Cohan
Sounds great! Amazing job of linking the band w/ the existing track of you and Jones.
Joe LaBarbera
BEAUTIFUL Recording and playing by all! WONDERFUL in everyway!! Looking forward to hearing the complete CD!!
Justin DiCioccio
Nice chart! Sounds like Thad and Mel’s band, good players, pianist happening. And of course Elvin.
Rick Laird
What a lovely chart. The whole thing sounds fantastic.
Danny Cahn
The music is great, and arrangement!!! Well done for keeping energy for doing this big things by those days!! You're a real musician and music lover: it's a lesson to me!
Michael Cheret
WOW, that's great!
Laurence Donohue-Greene
It sounds good. I was positively surprised, how Elvin's open style mix with the Big Band. Your song fits very good to Elvin's playing.
Christian "Nidi" Niederer
Wow, that music is incredible! That is extremely exciting.
Its great to hear the music and to hear Elvin with a Big Band. A different take on Big Band drumming for sure. I'd say there'd be a lot of interest in the CD.
Mike Nock
Some rhythm section on your CD! Great! You are obviously are a big band arranger par excellence!
Peter Ingram
This is the deal! Wonderful work. Great Bigband writing and super solos. Has that real NYC sound.
Paul Amrod
good on ya Gene
Ron McClure
Bill's song sounds great!
Sophia Kramer
Bill's Waltz' is beautiful. This is a very special project you have and it really works. Congrats on putting it together!
David Lyttle
I listened to the mp3s on the web and were very much impressed. They are very excellent and gorgeous jazz music.
Hiroshi Takahashi
I love this recording. GREAT work, Gene!
Karl Sterling
Special thanks for the CD. It is KILLIN'! What an amazing tribute to EJ.
Michael Stephans


21 May 09
Well deserved airplay for BILL'S WALTZ. We have been on the record now for at least 7-8 months.
Eric Cohen
WAER, Syracuse, NY
20 May 09
We are playing the CD on KUNV with some frequency.
John Nasshan, Jazz Host
KUNV 91.5 FM, Las Vegas, NV
19 May 09
I am giving your wonderful CD air play on KUNV in Las Vegas, NV. When I listen to this work of art, I forget that Elvin wasn't playing live with the band. The CD also touches me in some very deep emotional ways. As a drummer who is a major fan of Elvin, this CD touches me in the heart and soul, at times moving me to tears of joy that you took such a beautiful opportunity to celebrate this great man's playing. Thank you Gene Perla!
John Nasshan, Jazz Host
KUNV 91.5 FM, Las Vegas, NV
12 Feb 09
"Bogota Morning Bird"
Nick Marrero
KALA, Moline, IL
5 Feb 09
Nick Marrero
KALA, Moline, IL
29 Jan 09
Nick Marrero
KALA, Moline, IL
22 Jan 09
"Bogota Morning Bird"
Nick Marrero
KALA, Moline, IL
"We love your new CD at Jazz 90.1 Gene. Keep it up."
Tom Pethic
WGMC, Rochester, NY
15 Jan 09
Nick Marrero
KALA, Moline, IL
9 Jan 09
"Sweet Rita"
Nick Marrero
KALA, Moline, IL
12 Dec 08
"Sweet Rita"
Gary Vercelli
Capital Public Radio
Sacramento, CA
11 Dec 08
Nick Marrero
KALA, Moline, IL
9 Dec 08
It is a marvelous project with some great musicians, and as I expected, our listeners have reacted very favorably to it over the past few weeks and months.
Eric Cohen
WAER, Syracuse, NY
4 Dec 08
Nick Marrero
KALA, Moline, IL
27 Nov 08
Nick Marrero
KALA, Moline, IL
30 Oct 08
"Bogota Morning Bird"
Nick Marrero
KALA, Moline, IL
23 Oct 08
Nick Marrero
KALA, Moline, IL

18 Oct 08

Serge Warin
Radio Canal Bleu, Objat, France

Photo by Richard Laird


What began as an intimate session involving Elvin Jones and multi-instrumentalist Gene Perla back in 1986 culminated in the November, 2008 release of a unique (if somewhat controversial) album uniting archived tracks with ProTools-enabled contemporary sessions involving members of North German Broadcasting’s NDR BigBand. The same outrage inspired by dead celebrities appearing in new commercials (John Wayne hawking Coors Beer, Fred Astaire dancing with a vacuum cleaner, etc.) has surfaced in the wake (bad choice of words?) of Bill’s Waltz. To be deterred by all the brouhaha would be a pity, as there are some authentic moments of spontaneous combustion to be found on these sides, click track be damned!

"I’m Popeye the Sailor Man" may be an unlikely vehicle for a jazz session but, propelled by this legendary drummer's boundless energy, it runs downwind with a bone in its teeth. The track opens with Elvin’s popping snare tattooing a New Awlins- style march interpretation of the traditional sailor’s hornpipe, a theme which resurfaces throughout the arrangement, salted with tritones and arrgh-mented ninths. Leading with a respectable imitation of Popeye’s staccato laugh, trombonist Dan Gottshall delivers a satisfying, Olive Oyl-smooth solo, piloting through bluesy, spinach-free channels which never sound canned or Wimpy. Across the vast, improbable gulf of time and space the entire ensemble is held together and ignited by Jones’s unmistakable back beat, while the signature hornpipe theme takes its final bow with a drum solo tag.

Well, blow me down. Popeye aficionados are aware of the scruffy cartoon sailor’s scatting ability, but who knew he could swing?

Bill Barnes
26 Apr 09

"Bill's Waltz"
Gene Perla
Bassist and Easton, PA resident Gene Perla -- who played and recorded with drum master Elvin Jones (1927-2004) from 1971 to 1975 -- recorded basic rhythm tracks with Jones in 1986. Twenty-one years later, he orchestrated charts for those tracks, onto which he overdubbed the NDR Big Band, based in Hamburg, Germany. The result finds the boisterous, driving, deeply musical Jones booting, albeit electronically, a large ensemble, and is worth owning simply for that. Then there are Perla's remarkable orchestrations that fit perfectly with Jones' vibrant playing, making it seem like a live date. The tunes, all by Perla save one, also sparkle, mixing a singing melodic feeling with popping swing and are ebulliently performed by band members, Perla and the crackling Jones. Work well done.
Zan Stewart
Star Ledger
03 Apr 09

Bill's Waltz
Elvin Jones/Don Alias/NDR BigBand
PM Records
This incredible CD features, Elvin Jones playing with the NDR BigBand from Hamburg, Germany. But the way it came about is quite extraordinary. It began in 1986 when bassist/pianist Gene Perla took Elvin into a New York studio for two days to record him playing some tunes Perla had written. Perla played on a Fender-Rhodes piano along with Elvin on drums. The original plan was for Perla to then "use MIDI and play everything myself, paying attention to Elvin's unique attacks," with the idea of creating large ensemble arrangements based on Elvin's drumming. For some reason this never happened and the recordings stayed in Perla's possession.
     As he recounts, "Twenty years later, during a July ‘06 Flims, Switzerland gig alongside drummer Danny Gottlieb, I played him some of the rough tracks that I had finally started working on earlier in the year. Danny excitedly told me that the NDR Big Band from Hamburg, Germany would probably be open to playing along with the Elvin tracks. A deal was struck." Perla then spent a month in Paris arranging and orchestrating the tunes, giving one tune to Bill Warfield to arrange.
     The result is an astonishing recording featuring this outstanding band with Jones in the driver's seat. One would never know there was a 2O-year gap between when the drums were recorded and the arrangements were written and recorded.
     The ten tunes are, without exception, wonderful. The writing is great and the performance is beautiful. And Elvin sounds like he's been playing in big bands all his life. Among the gems on this CD is "Bill's Waltz," the opening track that is built around Elvin's one-of-a-kind way of playing in three. "Bogota Morning Bird" is based on Elvin's Afro-Cuban feel and also includes conga work from Don Alias that he overdubbed on this and one other Latin tune. The time is amazing on this one! Elvin plays brushes on several ballads and medium tempo tunes. Perla's writing is beautifully intertwined with Elvin"s brushwork, again creating the effect that everything was done together.
     Of special note is the doubletime section of "Korinna," in which Elvin's polyrhythmic, swinging brush playing can be heard propelling Claus Stoetter's trumpet solo. "Swissterday" is a more up-tempo chart, and Elvin's ride cymbal swings the band right along. The killer drum solo section must be heard to be believed. The CD ends with a shuffle arrangement by Warfield of "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man." I had never heard Elvin play shuffle, and ccrtain1y not in a big band setting. But, of course, he sounds amazing.
     Perla has given a beautiful gift to all who love Elvin Jones' drumming and appreciate great big band writing. It is a real treat to hear Elvin in this context. and I'm sure he would be very proud of the result.
Thom Morgan
Percussive Arts Society
"Percussive Notes"
April 2009

Elvin Jones is a master of time, but time takes on new meaning in this intriguing project. Gene Perla, a bassist, recorded some duo tracks with Jones in 1986 - no charts, no other instruments, just the master drummer's unique, meter-bending, river-flowing extemporization. Fast-forward to 2006, when Danny Gottlieb persuaded Perla to retrieve these tracks, essentially erase the piano parts, and use the drums alone as seeds for what is now a multi-instrument extravaganza, featuring Jones, Perla once again, and the NDR Big Band, a celebrated ensemble from Hamburg, Germany. The methodology seems excruciatingly technical, boiling down, in Perla's words, to "a Firewire hard drive loaded with Protools files." And yet, the results are triumphant, probably on the level of a wooly mammoth brought to life by a shot of DNA. Among the highlights are the interactions between the soloists and Jones: Had this been recorded with the drummer present, we would marvel over their intuitive synchronicities. Instead, we credit the preparations undertaken by Perla and these artists, whose graft of coherent, structurally solid charts over Jones' freewheeling grooves are even more breathtaking than the music itself.
Robert L. Doerschuk
Traps Magazine

Drummer Elvin Jones should get equal billing with Perla. The two laid down basic Fender piano-and-drums tracks in 1986. Following Jones' death in 2004, Perla wrote orchetrations for the pieces. With Jones digitally present, he recorded them in 2007 with the NDR BigBand in Germany. Jones drives the band, and it reacts as if he were in the studio with them. The NDR has a great day. The NDR seem to always have a great day.
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

Click on this link.
Mike Joyce

Legendary bassist Gene Perla, who has had the pleasure of recording and/or performing with many jazz icons including Sonny Rollins, Jack DeJohnette, Chick Corea, Sarah Vaughan and Elvin Jones among others, releases his first CD as a leader which features nine original compositions written, arranged and orchestrated by Perla with the help of the aforementioned late Jones, Don Alias and the NDR BigBand.

The original concept of the compositions revolved around the idea of orchestrating the late Jones' amazing drum sound. Way back in the fall of 1986, Perla (on Fender–Rhodes) and Jones spent two days in a New York City studio recording. What emerged from those tapes was Jones' amazing isolated drum technique for Perla to build and orchestrate his compositions around. In the original concept Perla had planned to use MIDI and play everything himself while concentrating on Elvin's one–of–a–kind drum attacks.

Then some 20 years later (2006) at a gig in Switzerland, Perla played some rough tracks of his long–standing project for drummer Danny Gottlieb, who suggested that Germany's NDR BigBand would be a perfect fit for these unique Elvin tracks. After going to Paris (May, 07') to arrange and orchestrate the music and then to Hamburg (July 07') to conduct the band, Perla then returned to the states for the final editing and mixing of the tracks.

The end result is 10 tracks featuring as close a facsimile as one could get to what it would have sounded like to hear Jones in a big band setting, something Perla says his friend always had a desire to do. Perla also states that as he now looks back, he is amazed at the fact that in seven out of the nine tracks, Jones did not even know the songs. He merely listened through the music once or twice (played by Perla) and nailed it!

Then after years with the project sitting on the shelf, Perla picked up where he had left off. Back in ’86, another close friend, drummer/percussionist Don Alias, then added some percussion to the two Latin–flavored tracks, and 20 years later the NDR BigBand donned headphones and fit their horns around Elvin's original drum grooves.

Quite frankly, and with the way these cats flow, it is almost hard to believe that the drum tracks were laid down over 20 years prior to the rest of the music. It is evident that this CD was a labor of love for Perla, a collection of originals (except for one track, “I'm Popeye The Sailor Man”) some 20–plus years in the making.

A very unique project that started out as two band mates jamming in the studio, but in the end would become a tribute to a dear friend. Bill's Waltz is a highly recommended collection and a piece of very unique jazz history.

Joe Milliken
Message Arts & Entertainment

Bill's Waltz, bassist Gene Perla's well-executed tribute to his former boss, drummer Elvin Jones, is one of those albums that could only exist in this modern world of digital recording techniques and studio trickery--and therein lies the rub. Many jazz listeners are conservative in their conception of what recorded jazz is and how it should be made. To these listeners, jazz should be recorded live in the studio directly to two-track tape (just like Rudy Van Gelder did it). After all, such listeners assert, how can jazz's integrity as an improvisational form be maintained if musicians aren't playing in each other's presence, allowing them to play off of one another? These objections were raised--quite strenuously in some cases--with the release of Ray Charles Sings, Count Basie Swings (Concord, 2006). Many listeners were outraged, to put it mildly. Archival Ray Charles vocals overdubbed by the current Basie ghost band?

Imagine, then, how some listeners will feel when confronted with Bill's Waltz, an album that reunites bassist Gene Perla with the late, great Elvin Jones (as well as deceased Latin percussionist, Don Alias, for two tracks)? Even worse, how will those listeners react when the album turns out to be pretty remarkable?

As related in his liner-notes, Perla recorded the basic tracks with Jones in the fall of 1986 (with Perla on Fender Rhodes). His intention had been to orchestrate the entire album himself using MIDI and playing all the parts. Alias was later brought in to add congas to two Latin tunes. Flashing forward twenty years or so, Perla played some prelimiary tracks of the Jones tracks for fellow drummer Danny Gottlieb, who suggested that Perla have the NDR Big Band (of Hamburg, Germany) play along with Jones's original tracks. Perla recorded some bass parts in 2007 and went to work with the band for five days, resulting in a Firewire hard drive loaded with Protools files which Perla and engineer Nick de la Motte set to work editing and mixing.

All well and good, some might say, but how does it sound? In a word: remarkable. The original 1986 recordings of Jones have been seamlessly integrated into the big band setting recorded more than two decades later. And Jones is in top form, producing his patented polyrhythms all over the place. The NDR band is fantastic, creating a provocative multilayered sound that manages not to overwhelm the work of the rhythm section. Perla himself steers the entire proceeding from the rear, everpresent but never overbearing (some consider this a defining mark of a truly great bassist). Soloists are not singled out in the notes, but everyone acquits himself admirably (one example is a particularly fine flute solo on “Eclipse”). Perla notes in the liners that Jones had more than once expressed his desire to work with a big band, and it is indeed wonderful to hear him in this setting.

But what of the improvisational spirit of jazz? How can an ensemble, however talented, interact with a prerecorded drum track? Here's a possible answer. One of the essential tenents of improv is saying “yes, and...” to a fellow performer's offer. In other words, the improvisor agrees with the offer and adds his or her own unique contribution. On the 1986 tracks, Jones is making plenty of offers and the 2007 ensemble is saying “yes, and...” to each of those offers. This is the very essence of improv. And it makes really tremendous music.

Alexander M. Stern
AAJ (All About Jazz)

Bassist Gene Perla has struck gold with this album, Bill's Waltz, in that he has harnessed (if that's the right word) the soaring talent of Elvin Jones, aided and abetted by conga player supreme Don Alias, and somehow married
these talents to the German NDR BigBand from Hamburg. The recordings are a marvel of patience, lots of years in between, more patience, and technical challenges and triumphs.

The project started in November 1986 and was concluded in August 2008. That is some gestation period!

There are 10 tracks on the album, Bill's Waltz (named after Bill Evans) and nine of these are original Gene Perla compositions. The exception being Sam Lerner's I'm Popeye The Sailor Man in which trombonist Dan
Gottshall struts his stuff with laid back confidence. The ensemble work of the big band, the soloists, and pre-recorded tracks is showcased in Perla's tune Bogota Morning Bird, allowing a fat sound to get behind Fiete Felsch and Peter Bolte on alto saxes and Gene Perla on bass.

I don't know why, but the overall sound, to my ears, is not that of a traditional US or UK big band. There is an intangible sound quality that makes you pay attention. Maybe it is the phrasing of the brass or the reed section that creates a 'foreign' sound and I don't mean that in a negative sense.

This album is a tour de force for Gene Perla. Having played with Elvin Jones at the Five Spot in NYC in the mid-1960s, Perla knows his man and the music, and as he says in his liner notes, "I can't begin to tell you how
many times I have shed tears listening to Elvin and thinking how he probably would be happy to hear himself in this project."

Couldn't have put it better myself, Gene!

Brian Hough
The Jassman

Extremely creative writing and arranging; loved the reed section's flexibility, technique, and tonal color mix. The grace and drive of Elvin Jones always amazes me, and this CD is a real testament to that ability. As the founder for the Bill Evans Archives at his alma mater, (Southeastern Louisiana University) Bill's Waltz was especially rewarding. I will present an Evans lecture Oct 14th, and will include your arrangement at that time.
Ron Nethercutt

I love absolutely the work of Gene Perla as composer and arranger. When I listen "Bill's Waltz" I get an impression of a jazz symphony. Superb, really. My playlist as soon as possible.
Serge Warin
Radio Canal Bleu


Jazz Station - Arnaldo DeSouteiro's Blog

PMR-033 "Invitation" © 2011

Bernie Senensky
Gene Perla
Ben Riley

Come To Me (Bernie Senensky)
Beloved Gift Music 5:13
Blues For E. J. (Bernie Senensky)
Beloved Gift Music 7:20
Come Rain or Come Shine (Arlen & Mercer)
S A Music & Warner Olive Music 7:37
Bill’s Waltz (Gene Perla)
Perla Music 5:49
Invitation (Kaper & Webster)
EMI Robbins & Webster Music 9:24
Old Folks (Hill & Robison)
Warner Bros 8:08
Young And Foolish (Hague & Horwitt)
Chappell Co 8:24
It’s Alright With Me (Cole Porter)
Chappell Co 9:35
My One And Only Love (Mellin & Wood)
Colgems EMI Music & Warock Corp 8:26
Bud Lines (Bernie Senensky)
Beloved Gift Music 4:11

Purchasing Information



A few weeks ago I received a wonderful surprise, a CD from one of my favorite Canadian artists and colleagues - Bernie Senensky. Bernie has been one of the staple forces on the Canadian jazz scene and very well respected in the music world for years. Still, we do not hear enough of this brilliant and talented world-class pianist. Hopefully, after listening to this wonderful recording, you will agree.

1) "Come to Me" -- A very clever and catchy original by Bernie - a tune that I would love to play.
2) "Blues for EJ" -- Here Bernie finds a new approach to the blues that is interesting and swinging - another great composition.
3) "Come Rain or Come Shine"--A haunting rendition to an old favorite. Bernie's wonderful technique is evident here.
4) "Bill's Waltz" -- A nice piece and especially a great bass solo by the composer on this tune, Gene Perla.
5) "Invitation" -- Another interesting voicing that I have learned to expect from Bernie - always finding something new with old standards.
6) "Old Folks" -- Gorgeous playing on this cut, from the intro to the end. I play this piece myself a lot. After listening to Bernie's rendition of this, I may never play it again, (one of my favorites).
7) "Young and Foolish" -- So rare to hear the verse to this tune - a nice groove on this one, and I loved Ben Riley’s
drum solo.
8) "It's Alright With Me" -- Great tune, great playing by all. Bernie once again shows us his fluid technique here and his ability to make something of a normally vocal tune come to life. Well done!
9) "My One And Only Love" -- I was hoping that Bernie was going to continue to do this whole tune solo, but then I would have missed the fine bass solo later on. Lovely tune, lovely playing all around.
10) "Bud Lines" -- Bernie shows us here that he has a solid formation going back to the 40's and right to today. Wonderful playing in this cut-great two-handed syncopation à la Peterson and Bud. (Definitely one of my favorite tracks).

I must say that Bernie, Gene, and Ben make a wonderful collaboration on this project. They are thrilling to listen to - sensitive when needed, and forceful at other times.

Oliver Jones

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Copyright 1997-2017 P. M. Records