Thursday, April 29, 2010

Anat Cohen - Clarinetwork: Live at the Village Vanguard (Anzic, 2010)

A multiple time recipient of the Downbeat Magazine "rising star" award for clarinet, this is Anat Cohen's first album to focus on that instrument exclusively. Originally inspired by the centennial of Benny Goodman's birth, the set list of this live album draws on standards that he would have been familiar with. However, there is noting stuffy or moldy fig about it, the music is played with a great deal of passion and energy. She is accompanied by Benny Green on piano, Peter Washington on bass and Lewis Nash on drums. Opening with "Sweet Georgia Brown" (which always reminds me of going to see the Harlem Globetrotters with my father as a kid) the group takes the standard at a fast pace featuring sweet and hollow sounding clarinet, which swirls quickly over comping piano and strong bass and drums. Green leads a strong piano interlude before fast and high pitched clarinet returns to take things out. Medium tempo clarinet, light and fluttering like a bird in flight ushers in the lengthy version of "Lullaby of the Leaves" before the open ended improvisation gains speed, making way for a fast and swinging piano/bass/drums section. Yearning and keening clarinet returns to trade solo sections with Nash's agile drumming. Clarinet cuts through a deep and bluesy pocket with the familiar mournful melody of "St. James Infirmary" which builds moodily to a potent improvisation of deep and emotional playing. Bluesy piano and supple bass and drums keep things at a sultry simmer appropriate for a New Orleans standard. "After You've Gone" comes out light, fast and nimble with subtle bass and drumwork providing a firm foundation for Cohen's sweeping clarinet, that builds to a very fast swing tempo. Nash steps out for a powerful drum solo before the band returns to a fast "hot jazz" conclusion. Deep and rich piano sets the stage for "St. Louis Blues" with deep and soulful clarinet and a confident solo that gains momentum as if headed downhill. Peter Washington is featured with a lengthy bass solo and some impromptu scatting. The famous ballad "Body and Soul" receives a mellow and emotional reading, with the band taking a spare, light and spacious approach. Finally, "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" wraps up the set with a fast and strongly swinging performance, urged on with thick resonant bass and agile drumming. Green's fast piano encourages Cohen to step out with swirling clarinet that builds to a fast and powerful solo. This was a very accomplished album that takes its place in a long line of great jazz recorded live at that venerable club. The band is tight and exuberantly swinging and their music should appeal to a wide swath of the jazz audience. Clarinetwork: Live at the Village Vanguard -

Send comments to Tim.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Playscape Records has built a very nice niche for itself as a source of well thought out, open ended modern jazz. This is another fine album, led by bassist Joe Fonda and Michael Jefry Stevens on piano with Herb Robertson on trumpet and Harvey Sorgen on drums. "In The Whitecage" has a deep and ominous melody, before the instruments prodding at the improvisation build to speed on an open ended performance. Fast paced and percussive piano and slurred trumpet compete with urgent drumming. "For My Brother" slows things down to a ballad tempo with lush piano and gentle pinched trumpet. Robertson gets a deep and soulful almost Miles Davis like tone from his trumpet, and lovely piano playing seals the deal. "Yes This Is It" features dark and burnished trumpet with a strong tone backed by deeply rhythmic drumming. Robertson ups the ante with a sputtering trumpet solo, full of fire. "Memphis Ramble" opens with a fast drum solo and funky piano. The musicians add some chanted vocals the give the performance the bluesy feel of a strutting R&B/jazz amalgam. Strong and open ended interplay made this a successful album. The music melds a number of influences from free jazz to ballads and R&B and blends them into a nicely interwoven whole. Memphis -

Send comments to Tim.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Little Women - Throat (AUM Fidelity, 2010)

Little Women is an explosive free jazz - post-rock band that takes their cue from the likes of Sonny Sharrock (especially his collaboration with Peter Brotzmann and Roland Shannon Jackson in the band Last Exit) and James "Blood" Ulmer. Filtering this through the feedback and drones of avant rock bands like Sonic Youth, they make for an aggressive and tremendously exciting sound. The band consists of Travis Laplante on tenor saxophone, Darius Jones on alto saxophone, Andrew Smiley on guitar and Jason Nazary on drums. The music is an eight part suite of numbered performances that blend together to make a cohesive LP length whole. At their wildest on "Throat I" and "Throat III" the band throws down a massive wall of noise, with Jones and Laplante honking and screaming epic waves of sound while Smiley sparks lightning bolts of superheated plasma and Nazary pounds maniacally. On these free, balls to the wall tracks, their closet analogue would be early Brotzmann, especially the epochal Machine Gun album. But where that record drew inspiration from the free jazz pioneers like John Coltrane and Albert Ayler, Little Women also draws from the energy and passion of alternative and avant-garde rock 'n'roll. "Throat IV" draws all of these influences together and then proceeds to blow them out of the water. Starting with long toned ominous drones from the two saxophones, the track builds slowly and inexorably to a wild and hair raising conclusion. While the music here is heavy and serious stuff, it ends with a nod and a wink. "Throat VIII" has the musicians stepping away from their instruments, and scatting an approximate imitation of the honks, bleats and squeals that make up their world. It's a quirky way to end, but it works well, and this album is very successful overall. The music here is not for everyone to be sure, but fans of free improv, or rock 'n' roll fans with a taste for adventure will find some very exciting and innovative sounds here. Throat -

Send comments to Tim.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Matthew Shipp and Sabir Mateen - SAMA (Not Two, 2010)

Pianist Matthew Shipp and multi-instrumentalist Sabir Mateen make for fascinating duet partners on this album, which is an eight part suite of completely improvised music recorded at the Roulette Studio in New York City. While Mateen plays a battery of instruments from saxohpone to flute, it appears that he sticks to clarinet throughout this recording. The high woody sound of the clarinet makes from a fascinating contrast with Shipp's often low and probing keyboard playing. Shipp's piano playing is clearly articulated and patient whether his is laying down a foundation for Mateen to improvise over, or engaging him in a head-to-head duet. Shipp lays down beautifully stark and dark toned chords and notes, and Mateen swirls and probes them in a natural and organic way. There is nothing forced about the music, the two work together seamlessly with a common goal and strategy in mind. The suite builds logically through a series of dynamic moods and textures, from fast paced free improvisation to long and low abstractions of melody and form. Both musicians are patient and sympathetic duet partners and they make music that has an open ended muse and graceful poise. Sama -

Send comments to Tim.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ken Vandermark and Paal Nilssen-Love - Milwaukee Volume (Smalltown Superjazz, 2010)

Saxophonist and clarinetist Ken Vandermark has played with drummer Paal Nilssen-Love on a number of occasions in many different settings. In 2007 they did a tour of the Midwestern USA as a duet, documented on CD's of their Chicago and now Milwaukee performances. This album features three long spontaneous performances starting with "Clean Sweep" which opens with probing squeaks and crashes, making way for high pitched clarinet and rolling drums. The musicians make much use of the space available and and use silence a way to sculpt the music into different textures. A drum solo breaks the calm and then Vandermark switching to tenor saxophone begins a dialogue that builds in intensity. The interplay builds taught and strong, building dynamically to an over driven conclusion. "Cause of Action" is a very abstract performance, swirling and probing and building ever so slowly. Percussive toots and squeals of saxophone over broken percussion are featured in a very open ended fashion. "Cut and Thrust," on the other hand, is one of the most audacious and fascinating performances of recent memory. Strong and deep baritone saxophone and ever shifting drums are overpowering in this stark and strong duet. The awesome depth and intensity of the performance recalls John Coltrane's epic "Chasin' the Trane" from the 1961 Village Vanguard Sessions. The two musicians keep up the punishing pace of raw toned and caustic baritone sax and pulsating drums for nearly twenty minutes before downshifting to a spare and probing section. Vandermark and Nilssen-Love really lock into each other at an almost telepathic level throughout this recording. Regardless of the tempo or pace the music remains interesting and dynamically focused. Milwaukee Volume -

Send comments to Tim.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

ROVA Saxophone Quartet and The Nels Cline Singers - The Celestial Septet (New World, 2010)

This is an auspicious collaboration between these two well known west coast free jazz ensembles, the ROVA Saxophone Quartet: Larry Ochs, Jon Raskin, Steve Adams and Bruce Ackley on saxophones and the Nels Cline Singers: Nels Cline on guitar, Devin Hoff on bass and Scott Amendola on drums and electronics. The musicians had played together previously on a couple of occasions, but after performing live as an integrated group, they decided to record a collective album. The opening track, "Cesar Chávez" by Scott Amendola has slow and swirling atmospheric sounds of electronics and horns, with bass probing the mist. Long tones of tenor saxophone comments on the spare and haunting vibe with a low and eerie sound. The music builds in intensity to a dense soundscape. "Trouble Ticket" by Steve Adams starts in a choppy manner with the horns playing fast accompanied by strong guitar and drumming. Electronic improvisation with wild guitar, drums and horns, pushes the music further. "Whose to Know (for Albert Ayler)" is the centerpiece of the album, a towering 25 minute improvisation, that builds in a suite like manner from a slow and spare opening into a wild trio section feature for the Singers. Strong and potent full band improvisation follows, building to an apocalyptic conclusion. Short and exciting, "Head Count" is a little over two minutes of improvisation with a fanfare melody, snarling guitar and pounding drums, very exciting and fun. Finally, "The Buried Quilt" shows the group at their most abstract. From a slow and spare opening, ominous murky sounds slowly build. Open sounding horns probe gently, before building to an intense tenor saxophone blast over wild drumming. This performance grows to a very dynamic conclusion with the music moving from soft and spacey to strong and loud. This album is filled with interesting textures that draw from the free jazz tradition as well as other avant garde musics. It is very impressive that these two ensembles were able to combine in such a seamless way to allow for a successful and stimulating performance.The Celestial Septet -

Send comments to Tim.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Die Like a Dog Quartet - From Valley to Valley (Eremite, 1999)

Peter Brotzmann's quartet Die Like a Dog was originally designed to be a tribute to the great saxophonist Albert Ayler. But as the music and musicians evolved, the project moved out of its original boundaries and began to explore the length and width of freely improvised jazz. The questing and searching spirit of Ayler's music is well represented on this recording from the much missed Fire in the Valley Festival in Amherst, Mass. in 1998. Joining Brotzmann (who plays alto and tenor saxophones, clarinet and tarogato) are the wonderful rhythm team of William Parker on bass and Hamid Drake on drums. Trumpeter Roy Campbell rounds out the band. The group plays wide open freely improvised jazz, in a very exciting and passionate manner. Parker and Drake are an amazing tandem, locking into each other and providing endless rhythmic possibilities, pushing and pulling the music in unexpected directions. Campbell is an interesting addition to the band, previously Japanese trumpeter and electronic improviser Toshinori Kondo held down that spot. Campbell moves away from abstraction into a full bodied sound on the trumpet that recalls free jazz trumpeters of the past like Don Cherry and Don Ayler. Brotzmann blows with tremendous energy and passion throughout the lengthy performance, displaying extraordinary stamina. The concert is broken down into three performances, an opening free jazz quartet improvisation simply titled "Part I" then an epic forty minute improvisation "Part II" that has some outstanding playing, expecially from Parker who takes lengthy sections on bowed bass. Finally a comparatively shorter "Encore" ends the performance on a very energetic note, and much deserved wild applause from the audience. This was a very exciting album to listen to, fans of open ended free jazz will find a lot to enjoy here. While Brotzmann's music is sometimes seen as just a violent blowout, there is much here that belies that assessment. The music is dynamic and all four musicians are listening and responding to each other in real time.

Send comments to Tim.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ben Goldberg - Go Home (BAG, 2010)

Clarinetist Ben Goldberg has played a wide variety of music as a leader and a sideman with a number of different ensembles. This is a new band of his, playing modern jazz with a hint of funky groove and it features Charlie Hunter on guitar, Scott Amendola on drums and Ron Miles on cornet and trumpet. "TGO" opens the album with some mid tempo probing and woody sounding clarinet, making way for a stinging and slithering guitar solo. Hunter really sounds nice in this context, getting a lot of solo space and also accompanying other soloists and playing ensemble sections. "Wazee" features funky guitar and drums, and yearning horn and clarinet along for the ride. Hunter fires sparks over a cool back beat groove while clarinet swirls alongside. "Lace" slows the pace down to a spare and well spaced feel. Hunter's guitar is bluesy and ominous, like something from a Ry Cooder soundtrack while atmospheric creeping clarinet moans against a stark backdrop. "Root and Branch" was taken from a live performance, featuring a well constructed clarinet solo improvising over cool drum work. Miles' trumpet probes, pushing the tempo and then Hunter's guitar spits out shards of fractured melody, building to an exciting solo conclusion. Earthy, bluesy guitar is the centerpiece of "Inevitable" which starts out low and rumbling and then builds to a dirty gutsy guitar solo with clarinet arcing overhead, followed by strong full band improvisation. The musical palette of this album was quite appealing. High pitched clarinet playing off against electric guitar and golden burnished brass with thick supple drumming offer a wide variety of emotions and textures that the musicians could investigate, and make for a successful and appealing album. Go Home -

Send comments to Tim.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

J.D. Allen - In Search Of (Red Records, 1999)

Tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen really came into his own in the latter half of this decade, releasing two well regarded trio albums on the Sunnyside label. This particular disc comes from the beginning of his career, and marked his debut recording as a leader. Joining him on this album are: Fabio Morgera on trumpet and flugelhorn, Shedrick Mitchell on piano, Eric Revis on bass and Rodney Green drums. Already on this disc you can hear the confidence with which Allen plays, building logical and well thought out solos, and playing with a deep yearning tone reminiscent of middle period John Coltrane. Coltrane really seems to be a touchstone for this album, with Allen's dark and meaty tenor building the intensity of the music to a near Interstellar Space level on the torrid track "In Other Words" where very fast paced tenor and impressive drumming make for a very exciting performance. Allen and Green are on the same wavelength during the course of the entire album and take great delight in pushing each other to new heights. "Omar" also shows a Coltrane influence, with strong tenor and drum work buoyed by muscular and supple trumpet. The title track "In Search Of" slows things down to a lush and open ended ballad featuring patient breathy saxophone. The final track shows the direction Allen would explore later on, a slow and deeply bluesy meditation of Ornette Coleman's classic composition "Lonely Woman" with just bass in accompaniment. Allen and Revis dig deep on that performance making for a haunting and emotional conclusion to an auspicious debut. In Search Of -

Send comments to Tim.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Allison Miller - Boom Tic Boom (Foxhaven, 2010)

Allison Miller is an exciting young drummer who has played with many different ensembles in the rock and jazz world. On this album, she is joined by pianist Myra Melford and bassist Todd Sickafoose for a set of open ended modern jazz. Melford was the perfect choice for this recording, her playing runs the gamut of emotions from vulnerable to powerful and really brings the compositions and performances to life. "Cheyenne" opens the album with a drum solo, and then evolves into a dark toned trio improvisation with a hard percussive section and a spacey open section, in a suite like fashion. "Fead" downshifts to a slower groove, with brushes and bass probing at the music in a subtle manner. "Rockin' Chair" is a ballad that features Sickafoose playing strong and deeply elastic sounding bass on a open and patient performance. "Be Melting Snow" was the highlight of the album, a very dynamic performance that shifts from fractured free playing to a quiet bass and piano section and finally fast and percussive trio improvisation. Violinist Jenny Scheinman sits in on "CFS (Candy Flavored Sidewalks) giving the music an unexpected but very pleasant country tinge, like an improvised hoedown. This album works quite well, the compositions and improvisations cover a lot of ground and the musicians really make a statement both as a group and individually The music is multi-faceted and progressive, while still being quite accessible.Boom Tic Boom -

Send comments to Tim.

Organissimo - Alive & Kickin' (Big O, 2010)

Taking their cue from the classic organ, guitar and drum bands of the 1950's and 60's, Organissimo is a tight and soulful ensemble consisting of Jim Alfredson on Hammond B-3 organ, Joe Gloss on guitar and Randy Marsh on drums. This is a live album that really captures the band in their element, playing cookin' soul jazz before an appreciative audience. They state their intent right off the bat with "Stomp Yo Feets" and "Clap Yo Hands," sterling funk workouts, with a touch of New Orleans R&B that features Alfredson's swirling dexterous organ and bass pedal work. "Senor Buffet" which add some elements of samba and a nod to Horace Silver and "Jimmy Smith Goes to Washington" recalls to the classic organ trio dates recorded on Blue Note and Prestige. Most of the tracks take on a medium or uptempo groove, although the elegiac "If Not Now When" and the Frank Zappa cover "Blessed Relief" slow the pace down to a gentle simmer. The epic jam "Pumpkin Pie" wraps up the album over the course of a nearly twenty minute jam, the band adds some spacey prog rock elements to give the music a different feel. This album works quite well, and should be enjoyed by fans of the classic organ guitar sound. While the band is rooted in the classic music of the past, they are adding their own spin to the music, keeping it fresh and alive.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Books: Duane Swierczynski, C.J. Box

Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski Mickey Wade is at the end of his rope. He's out of work, out of pocket and out of luck. Taking his grandfather's old apartment, he comes across a strange bottle of pills in the medicine cabinet. Thinking that they will cure his hangover, he takes a few, and is instantly transported back in time to 1972. But the Philadelphia of the early 1970's was just as dangerous as the one he lives in today, so Mickey must unravel the mystery of the grandfather he barely knows, the mysterious pills, and the way it ties together with his father's murder. Swierczynski has flirted with science fiction before, and this was a very successful amalgam of mystery, SF and comics (several illustrations are added throughout the book.) He describes the streets of Philadelphia very well, both the modern day city and that of 40 years ago are a big part of the narrative. The story rockets along very quickly and builds to a fast and exciting conclusion that should be enjoyable to both science fiction and mystery fans.

Nowhere to Run by C.J. Box Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett is on horseback patrol in a remote mountainous section of the state when he comes across a lone man fishing in a secluded lake. Citing him for fishing without a license sets in motion a string of events he can scarcely imagine. Soon Pickett is in a fight for his life against two fugitive bothers hiding out in the remote wilderness. Barely escaping with his life, he is forced to return to the wilderness to try to learn the fate of a young woman who went missing years before and learn her connection to the brothers. This was a fast paced and well written story, with Box's descriptions of the rugged mountain territory both vivid and inspiring. What was particularly interesting about this story was his incorporation of some political issues that have been gripping the country like the role of government in society and individual liberty vs. law and order. Box doesn't take one side or the other, but presents a convincing story about divergent views about the nature of liberty and personal freedom.

Send comments to Tim.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Steve Swell's Slammin' the Infinite - 5000 Poems (Not Two, 2010)

This is an album of stirring and well played free jazz from a crack ensemble which features Steve Swell on trombone, Sabir Mateen on saxophones, clarinets and flute, John Blum on piano, Matthew Heyner on bass and Klaus Kugel on drums. The disc features several long improvisations, but the musicians always keep things interesting and things never fall into tedium. Mateen is the key to the success of the album, he shifts between a battery of instruments with a Sam Rivers like fluidity. "Not Their Kind" opens the album with strutting urgently played horns over strong piano comping. Mateen breaks through for a squeaking and leaping saxophone solo that is very exciting, powerful and free. Switching to flute for "Sketch 1" Mateen and Blum engage in a very interesting flute and piano dialogue. Light trombone and drums flesh out the performance further before a bowed bass solo takes things out rumbling and low. "Where are the Heartfelt?" has a medium tempo group statement that sets the stage for Mateen to move out over a pocket of piano, bass and drums. Trombone and tenor saxophone come together to improvise in a fast and exciting fashion, and then there is a feature for a dark tones piano trio interlude. "The Only Way Out" features Mateen on bass clarinet, he has a swooping and leaping sound and the instrument gets a dark and earthy tone. On this performance, the group improvises collectively at a fast pace, fast but not loud, and listening to each other carefully. "The Darkness Afoot" conludes the album with an open ended and abstract improvisation, the focuses on the patient and probing percussion of Kugel and Heyner's thick and resonant bass.5000 Poems -

Send comments to Tim.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Sounds of Liberation - Self Titled (Porter Records, 1972, 2010)

Rhythm is the key on this very rare album of funky free jazz, recently reissued by Porter Records. Drums, hand percussion and vibes lay down a thicket of deep and powerful rhythm that is hypnotic and potent and makes an excellent setting for the wild and woolly saxophone of Byard Lancaster. Along with Lancaster on alto saxophone, the the group included Dwight James on drums, Khan Jamal on vibraphone, Rashid Salim on conga, Monnette Sudler on electric guitar, Omar Hill on percussion and Billy Mills on electric bass. This album was originally recorded in 1972 in Philadelphia, and still sounds very fresh today. "Happy Tuesday" opens the disc with hand percussion forming a deep and insistent groove. Lancaster's muscular saxophone, hinting at free playing while remaining deeply soulful is present as well as sparks of guitar chords and thumping bass. Over the course of twenty minutes the music develops a hypnotic groove and has excellent ensemble playing with the full band pulling together with a common goal. "We'll Tell You Later" also opens with a drum solo and some questing, probing saxophone. The music grows more abstract and features some of the freest improvising on the record before pulling together at the end of the improvisation for a funky rhythm onslaught. Philadelphia seemed to be a crossroads of funky yo free jazz in the 1970's from the likes of Sun Ra and many more. This was a very exciting album that should appeal to fans of open ended R&B and free jazz. Sounds Of Liberation -

Send comments to Tim.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Tom Harrell - Roman Nights (HighNote, 2010)

Trumpeter Tom Harrell has become one of the most consistently excellent musicians in mainstream jazz, carving an impressive niche for himself as both a trumpeter and as a composer. On this album he is accompanied by his regular touring band with Wayne Escoffery on tenor saxophone, Danny Grissett on piano, Ugonna Okegwo on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums. Harrell and Escoffery make for a very appealing front line, Harrell has very clear sound and clean articulation of his musical ideas on the trumpet, while Escoffery's tenor has a rougher and gritter sound that contrasts nicely with the bell like clarity of Harrell's trumpet. The rhythm team is locked in nicely with Grissett switching to fender rhodes electric piano at times to give different textures and shadings to the music. "Storm Approaching" and "Let the Children Play" open the album with two fast paced performances. The first, is a straight ahead burner and the second is lifted with a buoyant rhythm and piano comping that gives it a bright and joyous feel. Both of these tracks feature punchy trumpet and strong deeply rooted tenor saxophone. "Obsession" takes a different track, using smears of trumpet against a more ominous backdrop, for a darkly tinged performance. The music on this album is consistently good, providing a good example of Tom Harrell's view of modern jazz. The group's sound is key to the albums success, there's a coherent sense of purpose the fuels the music on this album. Roman Nights -

Send comments to Tim.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Jemeel Moondoc - Muntu Recordings (No Business, 2010)

The 1970's were an interesting time for jazz in New York City. Economics and changing tastes in music led to a shuttering of many opportunities for progressive jazz in the city. This led some musicians to get creative and took matters into their own hands, opening their own performance spaces and creating their own record labels. Muntu was a group led by alto saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc playing open ended free jazz with a rotating cast of musicians during the mid 1970's to early 1980's. This was a very interesting three disc set that reissues the two albums recorded by the group and includes an previously unissued live performance from Rashied Ali's loft Ali's Alley. Also included is a lengthy book with valuable essays detailing the history and evolution of the band and the Loft Jazz scene in New York in the 1970's. Disc One has the Muntu album First Feeding with Moondoc on alto saxophone, Arthur Williams on trumpet, Mark Hennen on piano, William Parker on bass and Rashid Bakr on drums. After opening with the short title track, the group performs two lengthy compositions, "Flight (From the Yellow Dog)" and "Theme for Milford (Mr. Body and Soul)." Disc two includes the Muntu album The Evening of the Blue Men, with the group pared back to a quartet with Roy Campbell on trumpet, William Parker on bass Rashid Bakr on drums. This has two long performances, the uptempo "The Evening of the Blue Men, Part 3 (Double Expo)" which builds to an extraordinary and exciting improvisation filled with thrilling energy. The other performance on this album, "Theme for Diane," takes things in the opposite with a moody and slow building theme developed over the course of a patient and thoughtful improvisation. Disc three shows Muntu pared down even further, with Moondoc with Parker on bass and Bakr on drums, investigating a near forty minute version of "Theme for Milford (Mr. Body and Soul)." This package was a very interesting look at an under-appreciated band and a valuable glimpse into the loft jazz scene of the 1970's.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Jeremy Pelt - Men of Honor (HighNote, 2010)

Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt makes a fine modern mainstream jazz statement on this new album. Joined by J.D. Allen on tenor saxophone, Danny Grissett on piano, Dwayne Burno on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums, the group uses the open ended hard bop of the 1960's as a template for their contemporary explorations of improvised music. The urgent and driving feel of "Danny Mack" is a highlight, starting ominous and slow and then generating heat through application of prodding piano chords and propulsive drumming. Pelt's trumpet breaks through punching and stabbing through the music. Cleaver is a key ally here, his strong, deeply rolling drums keeps things moving along briskly. Punchy and smeared horn lines and strong agile drumming are also the key to the success of "Us/Them" which also features Allen and Cleaver trading short bursts of music. "Brooklyn Bound" has a darker hued feel, using supple horns and gently probing ballad saxophone, Pelt's trumpet takes on a dry and patient tone here and on the moody ballad "From a Life of the Same Name" where the group takes a spare and light approach caressing the melody of the song gently before moving into a series of solos backed by lush piano chords. This was a thoughtful and classy album of modern mainstream jazz, with fine soloing and ensemble playing throughout. Men of Honor -

Send comments to Tim.