Tip! It seemed trumpeter/composer Milton Ward had all he needed for a breakthrough in the world of contemporary jazz in the late 1970s. Blessed with a beautiful trumpet tone and an impressive work ethic, Ward found a home in Boston’s exploding soul and jazz scenes of the early 1970s. His star never joined the constellation of jazz luminaries, but Ward did leave one fantastic album of spiritual jazz that has become a collectors’ favorite: Milt Ward and Virgo Spectrum.
Frederiksberg Records is proud to present the first and only authorized reissue of this funky jazz classic. The release includes remastered tracks from the original LP along with in-depth liner notes that provide a detailed account of Ward’s journey from his early years discovering music in the South to his toils finding a hold in the music business in Boston and New York City.
Born in Michigan but raised in New Orleans, Ward came up through the Crescent City’s legendary musical education system. After a stint in the Air Force, Ward and his friend Stanton Davis (of Ghetto/Mysticism fame) looked to the Berklee College of Music in Boston for the next step in their development. Immediately, the two were immersed in Boston’s busy music scene, finding trumpet chairs in Herschel Dwellingham’s Orchestra at the Sugar Shack, where they backed up many of the day’s soul greats.
Ward worked with many up-and-coming musicians emerging from Berklee’s nurturing arms. He recruited many to his projects, including his Ultra Modern Quintet Plus Two, which played regularly around Boston in the early 1970s. It was in the mid-1970s that Ward took it upon himself and his entrepreneurial spirit to start his own record label, Twin Quest, and record his stand-alone release.
Milt Ward and Virgo Spectrum brought together great young musicians who would quickly make names for themselves within the jazz world, including keyboard wizard Delmar Brown and future Jazz Messenger saxophonist Billy Pierce. Saxophonist/flutist Eddie Alex is a standout, as is baritone saxophonist Glenn Barbour, who soon would head to Atlanta to join The Whole Darn Family. Percussionist Ignacio Mena, bassist Cucho Martinez, and drummer Hugh Petersen all hailed from farther south: Chile, Venezuela, and St. Croix, respectively. The recording also incorporated two bona fide New York jazz masters and veterans of the spiritual jazz movement, bassist Cecil McBee and saxophonist Carlos Garnett.
The recording still stands as a hallmark to the creative music scene of Boston and New York City when soul and funk began to emmesh themselves in jazz. Milton Ward’s Milt Ward and Virgo Spectrum remains a youthfully vibrant recording that is ripe for rediscovery by a new generation of explorative listeners.