New music spotlight: Roderick Paulin

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Published on: September 19th, 2017

906x680 Roderick Paulin (in yellow) with his band and show host Sally Young at WWOZ [Photo by Ken Maldonado]

Roderick Paulin (in yellow) with his band and show host Sally Young at WWOZ [Photo by Ken Maldonado]
Roderick Paulin (in yellow) with his band and show host Sally Young at WWOZ [Photo by Ken Maldonado]

Saxophonist, composer, and educator Roderick Paulin’s independent sophomore recording, Slow But Steady, a collection of contemporary jazz standards that is “an authentic embodiment of true and pure jazz music.” The title is homage to the record’s ten-plus year process, and features over 30 of New Orleans finest musicians playing over 2 hours of music. He employs the help of players like David Torkanowsky, Delfeayo Marsalis, Gerald and George French, Herlin Riley, Lawrence Sieberth, and more; in order to play the truest jazz songs, Paulin utilizes the best players. Paulin’s arrangements in Slow But Steady are a refreshing and exciting interpretation of some of the more popular contemporary jazz standards. Through Paulin and his peers’ exceptionally proficient musicianship, Slow But Steady seeks to embody a true form of jazz music and the songs that popularized jazz.

Disc 1 opens up with an inspirational spoken word introduction aptly named ‘You Can Do It’ where Paulin prefaces the project, explains the dream, and then motivates the listener empowering them that they can achieve anything if they put in the time. It’s hear where the listener learns that Paulin financed the entire project himself while working a day job and picking up different gigs on the side in order for the project to come to fruition. The rest of the first CD is diverse and alternates between high energy and soothing and expansive interpretations of songs like ‘Just A Closer Walk With Thee’ and ‘Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?’ Both arrangements honor the integrity of the songs, yet Paulin takes artistic liberty through his and his band members’ extensive soloing. Disc 1 concludes with a bouncy and spirited rendition of ‘Lil Liza Jane’ where Paulin’s New Orleans roots shine through in his bright, spunky saxophone tone.

Disc 2 opens up with a second motivational spoken word piece that introduces the second half of the record and also voices Paulin’s challenges that came with making this record like staying true to oneself and how success lies in the individual. The spoken word pieces really bring context to Paulin’s mission and elevate the already soulful and fiery performances found throughout. A rendition of Horace Silver’s ‘Sister Sadie’ brings disc two to life as Paulin’s bright saxophone swings with the organ and drums. Other highlights are the melodic and tranquil ‘Si Tu Vois Ma Mere,’ a composition orginially written by Sidney Bechet, a lively version of ‘You Make Me Feel So Young,’ and a somber, yet hopeful arrangement of ‘Pure Imagination’ that really ties Paulin’s message of recognizing the beauty of individuality towards the end. Concluding with ‘Bogalusa Strut,’ this happy, bouncy ending is stark contrast sonically to ‘Pure Imagination,’ but this trio arrangement is simple speaks to the carefree attitude of New Orleans.

Overall, Paulin’s masterful arranging of a wide variety of jazz standards is complemented by the stellar performances of Paulin as well as his band members that is dynamic, intentional, and a refreshing reinterpretation of some classic jazz compositions showcasing the proficiency of some of New Orleans premier jazz artists.

Slow But Steady is available on CD and mp3 from Roderick Paulin’s website, Louisiana Music Factory, CD Baby, and Google Play.


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