Mad And Eddie Duran
The San Francisco Bay Guardian crowned them “San Francisco’s First Couple of instrumental jazz.” The fruits of Mad & Eddie Duran’s musical partnership are in full bloom on their duo recording debut, From Here to the Moon, a self-produced project originally released on their Mad Eddie Records label. It is now issued by Fantasy’s Milestone Records, and marks Eddie’s return to the label where he made his first recordings.
In addition to three original tunes—two composed by Eddie, and one by Mad and Eddie together—the duo draws its material from the golden age of bebop composition, the 1950s, combined with the Latin rhythms they love. With those elements as the foundation, they build their music through their fresh arrangements and improvisational interplay.
To capture not only the spirit of jazz, but also their spontaneous onstage creativity, the husband-wife team recorded the album direct to DAT with no overdubs. With Eddie on electric guitar, and Madaline on woodwinds, the duo also uses two different rhythm sections: the mainstream bebop trio of pianist Al Plank, bassist Scott Steed, and drummer Vince Lateano; and the Latin rhythm section of pianist Mark Levine, Peruvian percussionist Raul Ramirez, and bassist Mark Van Wageningen.
If some of the tunes are familiar, the way Mad and Eddie approach them is unique. A good example is the medley where they cast “My Favorite Things” in a 5/4 rhythm and seamlessly graft it onto Paul Desmond’s “Take Five” as if the two were different aspects of the same tune.
Eddie’s composition, “Symphony Sid Samba,” offers a swirling kaleidoscope of Brazilian and African rhythms including , samba, bossa nova, and partido alto. Then there are the pieces played by just the duo, such as Cole Porter’s “Everything I Love,” which showcases Mad’s tenor saxophone insights on a slow ballad.
In the Durans’ 16 years of marriage and musical partnership, playing regularly in the music venues near their San Francisco home, these two Bay Area natives who grew up a generation apart have honed their duo approach to many of the compositions on this CD, mixing a couple of originals with mostly familiar and not-so-familiar modern jazz standards, Latin, Brazilian, and bebop tunes, but rearranging them to fit what has become an unconscious way of working together even while improvising: the Mad & Eddie sound.
Eddie Duran was born 74 years ago in San Francisco into a musical family of Mexican heritage. “Our parents loved music and never objected to our following music as a career,” he says. “Two brothers also became professionals: bassist Carlos who just died, and pianist Manny. We were a trio along the lines of the Nat Cole Trio.” Django Reinhardt was Eddie’s first inspiration, followed by Charlie Christian—“He was the big one for electric guitar in a jazz band”—Barney Kessel, Jimmy Raney, and Tal Farlow, who, like Eddie, were known for their bright, swinging melodicism.
Although he took a year of lessons, Eddie considers himself an “ear player. I could read, but I was slow, and playing show band gigs made me realize I could never be a studio musician. Playing the same charts for six weeks would bore me.” But music has never bored Eddie. “Music is this spiritual and intangible thing, and you’ve got to feel it coming out of you.”
He was a professional at the age of 15, and in the heyday of the San Francisco bebop scene, he played and recorded with such Fantasy stars as Vince Guaraldi, Red Norvo, and Cal Tjader, as well as with Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, George Shearing, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Benny Goodman, Barbra Streisand, and Pearl Bailey. In the 1980s Eddie recorded three albums as a leader for Concord Jazz Records, two of them nominated for Grammy Awards.
Eddie’s first wife died in 1977, his children were all grown, and music was his entire life when, seven years later, he met Mad while he was playing at the Cotati Jazz Festival north of San Francisco.
Madaline grew up in Belmont, south of San Francisco, and began playing clarinet when she was 10. “I heard a neighbor playing one and I liked the sound.” While her parents were convinced it was another of Mad’s consuming interests that would soon wane, the clarinet became her obsession. In junior high she added alto saxophone, and tenor in high school. During her senior year in high school she was selected as a member of the Monterey Jazz Festival’s High School All Star Band. “At that point I was a classical player and hadn’t thought of jazz,” she admits. “I was out of my element, but the festival was so exciting, just to be around such greats as Oliver Nelson, John Lewis, and Clark Terry.”
From that point jazz was a part of her musical life. She earned her degree in classical music at the University of Miami, but throughout college she also played in the college big band and jazz ensembles. Like the few other women who have made careers as jazz instrumentalists, she found that “when I was going to school I didn’t care what anyone thought, playing an instrument was what I was going to do, so I wasn’t affected by any social pressures.”
Out of college she landed not a musical but a restaurant job, was a waitress for a time, then started a successful wine country catering business, “which is a lot like being a freelance musician.” But at the age of 28, with 18 years devoted to music, she was at a career crossroads and food seemed to have the upper hand. Meeting Eddie Duran at the Cotati Jazz Festival provided the catalyst to choose music. They quickly established a personal and professional partnership, with Mad sitting in at Eddie’s San Francisco area gigs, playing saxes and flute, and through his tutoring and encouragement, later becoming a full musical partner with Eddie.
They moved to New York City in 1986 for two years, where Mad performed with and arranged for the all-woman Kit McClure Big Band, and played salsa one-nighters with Las Chicas de Nueva York. Returning to San Francisco, in addition to the duo, Mad played with such musicians as George Cables, Jessica Williams, Hal Galper, James Moody, and even her major stylistic influence, Stan Getz. The late drummer Eddie Moore proclaimed, “Mad can hit with the boys anytime.” Herb Caen wrote in his San Francisco Chronicle column, “Mad Duran is just what jazz needs—soul, swing and a breath of femininity.”
Although they had done earlier recording projects, From Here to the Moon was where Mad and Eddie’s musical sound was finally captured in the studio. Their personal and professional bond brings out their shared love for each other and music. As Eddie loves to quip: “It’s a good life. I recommend it.”