By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Prince A. Wells III is probably best known in the St. Louis area for his work over the years as president of the Black Music Society and in his role as music director for the Jazz Edge big band. But the Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville music professor is quite a talented composer and trumpeter in his own right, proof positive of which is his debut CD, Tales from the Void. Wells wrote five of the seven tunes on the CD and arranged both of the others -- Jimmy Heath's "Gingerbread Boy" and Matthew Potts' "Nuance." He also produced and directed the project, which has been in the works for more than two years. About the only thing Wells didn't do on Tales from the Void is add his own trumpet playing to the recordings.
"I discovered that composing, arranging, directing and producing the project took up so much of my time that it was better for me -- and the project -- to step back from trying to play on the songs as well," Wells says. "Besides, I think Danny Campbell did a great job on the trumpet on the recordings."
In addition to Campbell, Wells used combinations of 14 other local musicians on the seven cuts. In several of the compositions, he pays tribute to fellow musicians. "Mr. Cool" -- dedicated to Miles Davis -- explores the musical vein Davis mined on '80s recordings such as "Star People." As the title implies, "Glenn Wright's Delight" is an up-tempo, percussive number reflecting the personality of the late St. Louis musician.