Thursday, January 17, 2019

Greg Ward Presents Rogue Parade - Stomping Off from Greenwood (Greenleaf, 2019)

Alto saxophonist and composer Greg Ward has a new group called Rogue Parade featuring Matt Gold and Dave Miller on guitar, Matt Ulery on bass Quin Kirchner on drums. The group had the opportunity to perfect their approach during a Chicago club residency and Midwest tour prior to recording and it pays off in a vibrant and colorful album of modern jazz that excels both in imaginative compositions and spontaneous improvisations. "Metropolis" opens with fast drums and bubbling bass and guitar, the two guitars taking different approaches,  and the saxophone joins pulling together a medium sized cauldron of roiling sounds. Colorful full band sounds and improvisation result, adding bounding to waves of louder sound that wash across the length of the music, guitars in each stereo channel propelling the music forward. Ward's more evocative saxophone tone is at odds with the hyper kinetic drumming and provides an interesting balance of light and shade. Tight bass and drums set the mood of "The Contender" as confident horn playing with guitars extend the music further, creating a punchy and uptempo thematic opening. Developing a lighter saxophone tone for a nimble section that is fully in command, Ward develops complex and exciting solo, against  a quieter backdrop of guitars, bass drums. The guitars intertwine amid complex bass and percussion, creating a collective quartet improvisation, with more prominent bass and drums building toward the conclusion of the piece, cementing the episodic nature of the performance. "The Fourth Reverie" is spacious, with a noir like cinematic vibe, adding eerie and spooky creepy plunks of guitar and bass skittish percussion and curls of saxophone which build to cries as the music ends. This leads into "Let him Live" where there is some cool funky rhythm section playing, insistent yet light and pliable. Ward's saxophone adds to the urgency of the sound with repetitive notes, before moving into a bright toned solo, waxing and waning from fierce to calm to keep the dynamics high, and adding fast complex eddies of saxophone improvisation to push the excitement level even higher. "Black Woods" opens with a very impressive bass solo, both plucked and bowed, band enters darkly over two minutes in, playing dark shaded tones, heavy velvet draped and complex forming a jagged piece of music. Guitars break out into space with the rest of the band following into a medium up improvisation, saxophone then guitar muscling into solo space, trading phrases in a quick and exciting manner. The fascinating sensations of "Pitch Black Promenade" include shimmering golden sounding music, all aligned into a milder group improvisation as guitars pick out bright points of light against the drumming, and a quieter section for saxophone is vibrant among the bass with soft guitar and percussion framing, growing more labyrinthine as the piece moves on, as the lengthy interwoven composition is continuously interesting. Stomping Off From Greenwood - amazon.com

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