The New Champs

Ximo Tebar · Pat Bianchi · Byron «Wookie» Landham
Joey DeFrancesco & Idris Muhammad Tribute

In memory of Joey DeFrancesco and Idris Muhammad, The New Champs, co-led by Spanish guitarist Ximo Tebar, Italian organist Pat Bianchi and American drummer Byron Landham, continue the fantastic collection «The Jazz Guitar Trios», acclaimed by international jazz critics on Down Beat, All About Jazz, Jazztimes, etc, featuring great organists and drummers as Dr. Lonnie Smith, Lou Bennett, Joey DeFrancesco, Billy Brooks and Idris Muhammad, that began in 1992 with the album «Hello Mr Bennet» [The Jazz Guitar Trio, vol. 1], recorded in 1992 with Lou Bennett and Idris Muhammad.

Following Lou Bennett’s death in 1996, Tebar teamed up with master jazz organist Dr. Lonnie Smith and recorded the second and third volumes of the collection titled «So What» [1997] and «Goes Blue» [2001] with the great drummers Billy Brooks and Idris Muhammad respectively, and saxophonist Lou Donaldson on «Goes Blue».

In 2002, Idris proposed Tebar create the trio «The Champs» with Joey DeFrancesco, touring Europe and recording several albums, of which only «The Champs» [2004] has been released.

Following passing Idris Muhammad in 2014 and Joey DeFrancesco in 2022, Tebar, Bianchi and Landham, longtime Joey’s and Idris friends and regular collaborators, have come together to honoring the memory and legacy of their admired and beloved colleagues.

Pat Bianchi

A Grammy-nominated organist, winner of DownBeat’s 2016 rising star poll, and winner of Hot House magazine’s 2019 poll, Pat Bianchi has established himself as one of the premier organists on the international scene. His command of the instrument, harmonic prowess, rhythmic intensity, and versatility are rivaled by few. Bianchi has been a longtime member of jazz guitar icon Pat Martino’s trio, and also performed with NEA Jazz Master and saxophone legend Lou Donaldson and his quartet for a number of years, as well. Bianchi has performed with such greats as Red Holloway, Terell Stafford, Peter Bernstein, Chuck Loeb, and Dakota Staton. He has released six CDs as a leader and is a featured artist on more than 30 recordings. 

Ximo Tebar

More than three decades ago, jazz guitarist, composer and producer Ximo Tebar began to promote his own projects fusing jazz with Mediterranean music. The result of his extraordinary research work on the fusion of Mediterranean music with jazz has led him to be recognized as creator of «Son Mediterráneo», a jazzy sound with Flamenco-Mediterranean flavor and fragrance. «Jazz with a sea flavor». Ximo is a connoisseur of jazz tradition and way of playing the guitar and has been endorsed publicly by prominent jazz masters as Benny Golson and George Benson. He has never stopped playing with jazz giants like Johnny Griffin, Benny Golson, Lou Donaldson, Louie Bellson, Joey DeFrancesco, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Joe Lovano, Arturo O’Farrill, Tom Harrel, Dave Schnitter, Idris Muhammad…

Byron «Wookie» Landham

One of the most requested jazz drummers today. He has toured the world and recorded with such jazz masters as Betty Carter, George Coleman, Bobby Hutcherson, Joey DeFrancesco, Frank Wes, Pat Martino, Cyrus Chestnut, Russell Malone, Ruth Naomi Floyd, Hannibal Lokumbe, and the Liberation Orchestra, most recently a period 3 years with Dave Sanborn, six-time Grammy Award winner. Byron has recorded at least fifty CDs to his credit, as well as co-produced Joey DeFrancesco’s Grammy-nominated CD «Never Can Say Goodbye,» a tribute to the late Michael Jackson.



A Classier vibe steams off this disc

By Russell Carlson, JAZZTIMES

If the names Joey DeFrancesco and Idris Muhammad are enough reason for folks to check out Spanish guitarist Ximo Tebar’s 11th album, The Champs (Omix), I’d like to hope those same people will be racking up Visa debt for import copies of his last 10. Just hearing 41-year-old Tebar’s simmering rendition of Jimmy Heath’s «Ginger Bread Boy» has me wishing that we Stateside types hadn’t been in the dark about for so much of his career.

This date shows that Tebar has a Rat Packer’s heart: He’s almost too aware of his own coolness. But the CD also busts at the seams with killer displays of musicality from all concerned. Tebar’s bebop-borne chops keep pace with DeFrancesco’s thrust on the Hammond B3, but it’s far from a screaming, gritty organ set. A classier vibe steams off this disc, with DeFrancesco (and Tebar, too) articulating notes in solos cleanly and smear-free without coming across as stiff. And the pair has a rare patience with its timekeeper, heard at its best in «Nica’s Dream» where Muhammad executes extended, suspense-building fills that resolve in tight interplay.

All the more satisfying are occasional trumpet contributions by DeFrancesco, as well as Tebar’s own scat vocals. Ella Fitzgerald notwithstanding, scat drives me up the wall, but how can the wordless jive Tebar drops in absolute unison with both his guitar and Joey D’s extra-pearly toned B3 during a full-throttle version of «Donna Lee» turn anybody off? By Russell Carlson, JAZZTIMES


All About Jazz New York
Ximo Tebar: Goes Blue with Lou Donaldson: Say It Loud!

By Donald Elfman. October 9, 2005. Ximo Tebar. Goes Blue. Omix-Sunnyside. 2005.

The organ combo in jazz has, in recent times, experienced a resurgence in interest. Young and old players alike continue to be fascinated by the power and expressive capability of the Hammond B3.

Ximo Tebar is a young Spanish guitarist who certainly heard the classic organ trio and trio-with- horn recordings of Jimmy Smith. Tebar has played with the likes of Johnny Griffin, Benny Golson and Louie Bellson and his fluid single lines call to mind the George Benson organ recordings. His own tunes are simple reminders of the timelessness of the form. The title track suggests «Killer Joe and his ballad «Come To Me is a slow sexy blues.

This is a conventional program with some blues, some standards and some funk, but Tebar manages to make it sound fresh. He uses the stalwarts of this genre – Dr. Lonnie Smith and Idris Muhammad – and then, on three tracks, adds the eternal bop-cum-blues alto saxophone sound of Lou Donaldson. Donaldson’s rich and varied career has shown that he is a music survivor – one who has mastered the complexities but never lost his ability to swing and his feeling for the blues. His originals – «Midnight Creeper and «Blues Walk were both Blue Note album titles for him and they retain their dated, funky charm and the primal wail of the Donaldson saxophone.

Swing Into Fall

By Judith Schlesinger, All About Jazz NYC, Sep 2004

Subtitled “The Jazz Guitar Trio, Vol. 4,” this CD was recorded live in Barcelona in 1999. It’s clear from the first track, a greasy version of Jimmy Heath’s “Ginger Bread Boy,” that this will be a straightahead romp. This is the 11th CD for award-winning Spanish guitarist Ximo Tebar, an excellent player with a warm tone that (thankfully) bears no resemblance to the Hawaiian shirt school of electric guitar; in his notes, Benny Golson calls Tebar ”astounding.” He’s creative and classy, using his powerful chops to further the music rather than his own ego; he’s also a talented scatter (see especially “Donna Lee”). DeFrancesco is in fine form — less flamboyant here than he’d become — and does credible Miles imitations on “But Not For Me” and “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” There’s a swinging “Sugar” and a blazing closer, Dizzy’s “The Champ.” This is a good CD for dealing with the end of summer: though the leaves may fall, your spirits will rise.


Ximo Tebar: Ximo Tebar Goes Blue

By Bill Milkowsi. JAZZTIMES

Valencian guitarist Ximo Tebar recruits heavyweights Dr. Lonnie Smith on organ and Idris Muhammad on drums for this smoking session. Tebar sounds very comfortable in the company of his elders, swinging with rhythmic assuredness and requisite grease, coupled with blazing Bensonesque technique. The trio burns a blue streak on Cole Porter’s “I Love You,” with Smith unleashing his inimitable B3 magic along the way, and they get down on Ximo’s shuffle-blues number “Goes Blue.”

Special guest alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson demonstrates his lyrical touch with a dramatic reading of “Laura,” then funks it up on his signature piece “Midnight Creeper.” Tebar further distinguishes himself with some beautiful chordal melody work on “Days of Wine and Roses.” And he displays down-home grit on his bluesy “Come to Me,” which has the Turbanator testifying with sanctified power on the B3. Stateside guitar fans should definitely check out this talented Spaniard. Bill Milkowsi. Jazztimes January 1, 2006


[Crónica] Magnífico * * * * «The Champs», el resultado de la conjunción de Tébar, DeFrancesco y Muhammad es magnífico. Incluso se hace corto. (Cuadernos de Jazz)

The Champs: Idris Muhammad, Joey DeFrancesco and Ximo Tébar at Café Central (Madrid)

David Romero / Cuadernos de Jazz.- El buen hacer de Ximo Tébar ya no es una sorpresa y de Joey DeFrancesco e Idris Muhammad cabe esperar cierta brillantez: cumplido. Esta formación es un acierto incuestionable: eficientes en la creación de atmósferas bluesy, expertos creadores de contextos rítmicos por los que se deslizan improvisaciones maestras, poseedores de un swing que se hace llamativo a pesar de que hoy en día abunda el swing aceptable… Y es que el resultado de la conjunción de Tébar, DeFrancesco y Muhammad es mucho más que aceptable. Es magnífico. Incluso se hace corto.

Uno podría pasar horas dejándose mecer por el toque cálido e inteligente de Tébar. Por si fuera poco, DeFrancesco mantiene durante todo el disco un nivel excelente en sus interpretaciones; la sincronía es admirable. Definitivamente, no estamos ante una de esas ocasiones en que la música surge de la fricción entre individualidades restallantes, entre genios delirantes que se enfrentan en duelos de virtuosismo, generando una belleza ambigua y casi sádica, desprendida de la inevitable agresividad que hay en el lucimiento personal.

Ximo Tebar and Joey DeFrancesco

No. Aquí Tébar y DeFrancesco hablan el mismo idioma, y se ceden la palabra el uno al otro con una amabilidad que impregna el disco de positividad, de distensión y de cierta coherencia, a veces ausente en las reuniones de grandes egos. El simpático scat de Ximo puede tomarse como un símbolo de ese bienestar que invita a la desinhibición, tan saludable para el desarrollo musical. No es frecuente alcanzar semejante grado de cohesión sin recurrir a expresiones superficiales que la hagan más accesible. Por ello es de agradecer que, manteniendo-incluso arriesgando- ese profundo entendimiento armónico, los integrantes del trío se aventuren con soltura y sin complejos a la búsqueda de melodías inteligentes que eviten los caminos más trillados, incluso en standards tan visitados como You Don´t Know what Love Is o But not for Me. Tampoco se achican a la hora de confeccionar el repertorio: temas de Jimmy Heath, Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins Stanley Turrentine, Dizzy Gillespie o Charlie Parker componen este interesante reto del que salen no sólo airosos, sino sensiblemente engrandecidos. Lo diré una vez más: magnífico.

David Romero / Cuadernos de Jazz, Núm.82 (mayo/junio 2004)


Ximo Tebar by George Benson
«Ximo es un pionero en la guitarra de jazz y una nueva e importante voz para la formación clásica del trío de órgano. Tiene un uso fresco de single-lines. Sus ideas nunca resultan aburridas, y su técnica poderosa es inspiradora. Su destino se hace aparente desde el momento en que se le escucha tocar. Los más impresionante es que Ximo nació y creció en España, lo cual le convierte en un fenómeno.»

George Benson, January 2005 / Notes CD Goes Blue

Ximo Tebar by Benny Golson
«En nuestras vidas siempre encontramos a personas que sobresalen por su talento. En la Musica, Ximo Tebar es una de ellas. El dá vida a la guitarra eléctrica. Toca con excitación, agilidad creativa, y la fogosidad vertiginosa de John Coltrane, pero también con el calor y la pasión tierna de Clifford Brown o Art Farmer, dependiendo de la situación emocional en la que se encuentre. Posee un sorprendente, y persuasivo concepto harmónico y melódico que nunca enfatiza hasta convertirlo en aburrido o sin sentido. Digo esto no solo porque lo haya oído tocar, sino también porque hemos tocado juntos y he tenido la oportunidad de ver estas cualidades desplegarse, aparecer, delante de mis oídos sorprendidos. Pueden estar seguros de que no importa en la situación en la que se encuentre siempre beneficiará a los que están a su alrededor. Si todavía no han tenido la oportunidad de escuchar este artista desplegar su imaginación creativa se están privando de algo muy bueno. Escúchenlo!!. Es extraordinario.»

Benny Golson / Composer / Saxophonist / New York City, May 13, 2004

  Ximo Tebar, Idris Muhammad and Joey DeFrancesco. The Champs. Barcelona.
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