**Living Prime Time Magazine - Buffalo, New York ** January 1998
"It is a well-kept secret that Bobby Militello is one of the most exciting and inventive
**The Welland Tribune ** 7-20-06
**Jazz Journal International ** August 2006 Issue
alto soloists in jazz today. His stimulating approach has been an important ingredient in
the continuing success of the Dave Brubeck Quartet since 1982."
A FEW REVIEWS
** Santa Barbara Independent 8-23-06 **
• Artist: Bobby Militello
**Ottawa Jazz Festival - June 23, 2007**
All About Jazz review
** Review of London Flat, London Sharp **
• Rating: 4 Stars
• Styles: Hard Bop, Standards, Bop
• Ken Dryden, All Music Guide
Alto saxophonist Bobby Militello is best known for his long tenure as a member of the
Dave Brubeck Quartet, so it's a treat to hear him in a different setting as a leader.
With keyboardist Bobby Jones, drummer Bob Leatherbarrow, guitarist Mark Manetta, electric
bassist Jim Kurzdorfer, and trumpeter Jeff Jarvis, he delves into soul-jazz, Latin jazz,
bop, and hard bop. He's an underrated saxophonist, with the power and imagination of Phil
Woods (as heard in his interpretations of standards like Cole Porter's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye"
and "I Love You") and the soul of Cannonball Adderley (demonstrated in Adderley's "Wabash").
Militello is also a superb flutist, switching to flute for the Latin-flavored "Que Bonito"
(written by Jones) and alto flute for the funky "Rain Devil." Because Militello has been
very active touring and recording with Brubeck since the 1994 sessions that make up this CD,
he seems unlikely to do another CD for the time being.
• Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
An excellent reed player who is underrated, Bobby Militello brings back the spirit of Paul
Desmond when he performs with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After playing locally in Buffalo,
he toured with Maynard Ferguson (1975-1979). Militello freelanced in Buffalo (1981-1984)
and Los Angeles (1984-1992), playing with the Bill Holman and Bob Florence Orchestras.
Bobby Militello, who has recorded with Holman, Florence, Ferguson, and Charlie Shoemake,
among others, has played on and off with Brubeck since 1983 (usually alternating with Bill
Smith) and has led several of his own albums for Positive.
• From: Gerry Frederics
• To: Adelaide Institute
• Sent: Monday, January 12, 2004 9:36 AM
• Subject: Music
Alto saxophonist/flautist Bobby Militello is a revelation, a real musician in a musical world
gone mad. He manages to sound similar to Paul Desmond without copying Desmond in the least. His
harmonic sense is absolutely solid, he swings like mad and affects none of the
civilization-destroying Coltrane-screechings and never-ending semi-melodic tags. The first and
only new alto sax player since – forever. His version of Brubeck’s ‘Koto Song’ is an example of
how a white man can actually emerge himself in an utterly alien culture, without losing his identity. No
Japanese flautist could play this tune the way Militello does. As a matter of fact, no Japanese
writer could have written it the way Brubeck did! He ought to have received whatever cultural
prize the Japanese government has to award.
• Discovering Dave Brubeck with Hedrick Smith
• Bobby Militello -- Saxophone
Dave Brubeck first heard Bobby Militello with the Maynard Ferguson band at a jazz Festival
in Sugar Bush, Vermont. At a later jazz festival in Saratoga, New York, Bob surprised Dave by
stepping out of the sax section and performing a dazzling solo on flute. Brubeck made a mental
note to remember that young musician. A few years later, when there was an opening for a horn
player in the quartet, Dave tracked Militello down through his old boss Maynard Ferguson. He
invited Bobby, along with other talented reed men in the New York area, to audition. Bobby
Militello arrived at the try-out already knowing most of the Quartet¹s repertoire. He improvised
with equal facility on alto and tenor sax and flute. He has remained an integral part of the
Brubeck quartet ever since, performing with Dave since 1982 in choral and symphonic settings as
well as jazz concerts and festivals throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.
A native of Buffalo, New York, where he resides, Bobby was recently named Buffalo's Citizen of
the Year. He owns and manages the Tralf, a popular nightclub in that city. With his sister and
brother he owns and operates the Bijou Grille. As president of RPM Entertainment productions, he
frequently acts as producer of special events in Buffalo. He has appeared a number of times with
the Buffalo Philharmonic, performing contemporary works by Pat William's and Michel LeGrand.
Bobby¹s tour with the Maynard Ferguson band was from 1975-1979. During this time he made five
recordings with the band and doubled as road manager. Later he became active in the studios in
Hollywood, recording soundtracks for television, films and commercials. He has recorded with
numerous Los Angeles based big bands, including Bill Holman and Bob Florence as well as leading
his own jazz groups, that have ranged in style from fusion, to latin, to blues and funk.
Bobby has been featured on many Brubeck recordings and television appearances. His most recent
albums with the Dave Brubeck Quartet are The Crossing, So What's New? and The 40th Anniversary
Tour of the U.K., most of which was recorded live at Royal Festival Hall in London in 1998, and
Live in the UK and USA. His adaptability and sensitivity to all facets of music are evident in
the wide spectrum of music he has performed with Dave Brubeck, ranging from Brubeck's mass To
Hope! A Celebration to straight-ahead jazz heard on the Late Night and Nightshift CD's recorded
live at the Blue Note club in New York City. Bobby has appeared twice with the London Symphony
Orchestra as part of Brubeck family programs celebrating Dave Brubeck¹s 75th and 80th birthdays.
The RepublicanBrubeck still has it going on
• Wednesday, August 09, 2006
• By CLIFTON J. NOBLE JR.
• Music writer Northampton, MA
Cooler than ever at age 85, jazz master Dave Brubeck and his quartet thrilled a
capacity audience of 803 cheering fans in a benefit concert at the Academy of Music.
With more than a half-century of performing and a mind-boggling 170-disc catalog to draw repertoire
from, Brubeck opened the Sunday night program with the quintessential invitation to fun, "On the
Sunny Side of the Street." His nimble hands strode up and down the keyboard at a sassy, Louis
Armstrong tempo. Bassist Michael Moore and drummer Randy Jones melded with their leader into one of
the solidest rhythm sections currently swinging the world of jazz, and reed-man Bobby Militello
tossed off three choruses of searing alto saxophone, raising Brubeck's suave opening gambit to a
quick boiling point and eliciting cheers from the crowd. Next Brubeck turned to the second movement
of brother Howard's composition "Dialogues for Jazz Combo and Orchestra," premiered and recorded
(with the so-called "classic" quartet of Paul Desmond, Eugene Wright, and Joe Morello) in 1959 with
Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. Caressing the keys of a venerable, glorious-toned
American Steinway piano borrowed for the evening from Smith College with the tenderness one might
invest in a Chopin Nocturne, Brubeck gently painted a world of color stitched together by a tendril
of forthright melody. Toward the end of their exploration his colleagues joined in a magical
improvised fugato on a tiny rising figure in the tune. "Stormy Weather" followed, but no dark clouds
threatened to damp its bluesy stride strut, and once again Militello's screaming alto ignited a roar
from the audience. Other highlights of the concert's first half included a rip-roaring ride through
the title track from the quartet's most recent CD, "London Flat, London Sharp" and a poetic account
of "These Foolish Things" featuring Moore's sublime bass playing. A wizard of the fingerboard, Moore
brought to bear an elegant melodic sense underscored by gorgeous tone, whether plucking or bowing his
bass. With a couple of exceptions, British-born drummer Randy Jones owned the second half of the
concert, shining in extended solos on both the "March" variation from Brubeck's "Pange Lingua
Variations" and on a jaw-dropping expansion of the classic "Take Five.",
Brilliant at pacing a set, Brubeck inserted two heart-stopping ballads in the midst of the
high-octane burn of "Pange Lingua" and "Take Five." The first was his tribute to Chopin and the
Polish nation, composed on the train after a visit to Chopin's home during his 1958 Jazz
Ambassadors European tour. Called "Dziekuje," or "Thank You," the piece captured Chopin's
keyboard command and distinct harmonic tendencies, absorbed by Brubeck at his pianist mother's
knee, and invested it with his own unique harmonic richness and melodic invention.
The second ballad featured Militello on flute in a priceless rendition of "Over the Rainbow"
that reduced the house to a religious hush. For every line of extreme, over-the-top saxophone
he had blown thus far, Militello balanced here with graceful, captivating flute phrasing of the
utmost subtlety and beauty. "Take Five" set off into territory uncharted by the
Desmond/Brubeck/Morello/Wright original "Time Out" track. The current quartet remained true
to the great tune and the liquid piano-sax duet in the middle eight, but their muscular,
driving improvisations reinforced the still-vibrant innovation of this "Beethoven's Fifth" of jazz.
Weekly PlanetSarasota Florida
Bobby Militello, Saxophonist In The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Talks Bop.
• Bobby's Waltz
• BY COOPER LANE BAKER
• Published 01.11.06
The Dave Brubeck Quartet
Sat., Jan. 14, 8 p.m. Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota. 800-826-9303 or www.vanwezel.org.
$40-$50. It was at age 10 that Bobby Militello discovered his mother's jazz collection. He would
slip on the headphones, lie in front of the stereo and listen to whole albums from beginning to end.
He had two favorite artists in those formative years: trumpeter Maynard Ferguson and pianist Dave
Brubeck. Little did the pre-teen know that both jazz titans would play a major role in his future.
"Ferguson was one of the first albums that we had that just the sound of it and the soul knocked me
out," Militello recalls over the phone, two days after Christmas. Militello had just begun learning
to play music, and those days spent in front of the stereo were not merely idle fadeouts. "I
memorized everybody's solos: I could scat all their solos," he says. "I would just lay there and
listen over and over again." The year of Militello's discovery was 1960, amid his upbringing in
Buffalo, N.Y., and though the concentrated listening was crucial to his development as a player and
a jazz fan, it was not academic. "I wasn't cognizant of what I was listening for," he remembers. To
this day, he describes players he admires with words like "soul," rather than using technical jargon.
It was passion that he responded to in the playing of Ferguson and Brubeck. It's still the main
standard by which he judges his own work and that of others. "You have to try to play a different
solo every time you play," he says. Militello -- now 56, and with 24 years as Brubeck's saxophonist
behind him -- maintains his zest for the fresh discoveries to be found in jazz. Responding to my
comment that it must be cool to still have his passion for the music, he corrects me. "It's more
than cool; it's amazing. I like playing as much now as when I was 16 years old." By the mid-'50s,
the Dave Brubeck Quartet was one of the most popular jazz acts in the nation, with a strong following
among college kids who flocked to their on-campus gigs. Surprisingly, Brubeck's popularity didn't
lead to the usual artistic stagnation. And while his catalogue is cluttered with one-offs of little
value -- Dave Digs Disney anyone? -- the quartet rarely relied upon comforting the audience with
familiar sounds. In fact, the major breakthrough of Brubeck's career, 1959's Time Out, began as an
experiment in odd time signatures like 9/8 and 5/4, but never forgot that beauty and elegance count
too. From that album, "Take Five" would eventually become the biggest-selling jazz single in history,
and "Blue Rondo Á La Turk" still has currency today: It popped up on the soundtrack to Wedding
Crashers. Militello learned his chops on the saxophone from a private teacher while he was in high
school; he learned to play the solos that he scatted as a youngster. The budding musician began a
stint in college studying law, a stint that would be ever-so-brief. "I got offered a road gig and
went on the road to make enough money to pay for school," Militello says, but after getting the cash
he bagged college. He then played in various bands to support himself until he got the chance to
tour and record on baritone saxophone with one of his childhood idols, Ferguson, whose stratospheric
high notes represented the height of talent to some, a symbol of excess to others. "That was the best
education I could have gotten at the time," he says of his years in the trumpeter's band.
After some time, though, Militello was itching to ditch the bari and take up his preferred horn,
alto sax. Unfortunately, Ferguson wanted to keep him where he was, so Militello left the ensemble
on good terms. Hot (1979) was the last Ferguson album Militello played on, after which he spent a
year living here in Sarasota, where he performed six nights a week at a local party joint called
T.R. Murphy's. Did he enjoy it? He scoffs: "Are you kidding? It was great." Brubeck first heard
Militello at the Sugarbush Jazz Festival in Vermont in the late '70s when he was soloing with
Ferguson's band. Brubeck disbanded his original foursome in 1967, and had been working on religious
music and pieces for large orchestras, but had recently begun to work in the quartet format again.
While immediately impressed with Militello's talent, there wasn't an available slot in the combo
until 1981. "He asked his wife, 'Remember that [saxophone] player?'" Militello recounts, still
sounding amazed that Brubeck had been so impressed as to remember that years-old gig. Brubeck
contacted Militello and asked a simple question: "Would you be willing to come to New York?" He
hardly needed to wait for an answer. For a few years after signing on with Brubeck, Militello
alternated with clarinetist Bill Smith, performing between a third and a half of Brubeck's concerts.
Smith eventually retired, and since then Militello has been the primary horn on all of the legendary
pianist's records and concerts. Nowadays, the sax man has a thick white beard and a ample belly,
but still talks like he probably did back in his early days as a jazzbo. He uses words like "cat"
and "dig" in an un-ironic fashion, and is remarkably warm and polite without ever sounding fake.
He tells me about his history in Brubeck's quartet with glee. "When I first got with Dave, I found
it hard to play, because I was looking up to him," he says. "You sort of felt like you were
second-guessing everything ... It took a good year before that went away. I can honestly say
to this day: I look up to Dave as much as when I joined him. But he's still the piano player
onstage. If you look at it any other way, you second guess too much. Off the stage, he's Dave
Brubeck." Militello recognizes that Brubeck is the main draw at the shows, but he doesn't sell his
own talent short. He's confident, and should be. His playing on 2005's London Flat, London Sharp
consistently demonstrates a willingness to extend and to challenge, without resorting to atonality
or abrasiveness. He bristles at the idea of mimicking the solos from Brubeck's seminal recordings.
"I don't play people's solos, I play the melody," he says. "I don't think I've ever played 'Take
Five' the same way twice and neither has Dave ... that's what we're there for. We're not there to
be carbon copies." It's an admirable stance, and one that deserves special reward in our town,
drowning as it is in mediocre smooth and lounge jazz.
Bobby Militello and the Dave Brubeck Quartet give us a chance to come up for air.