Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Artemis - Self Titled (Blue Note, 2020)

Artemis is a very talented group, each one of the musicians has a successful career as a leader and collaborator, and adding this well performed album to their resumes will certainly be feathers in their collective caps. The band consists of Renee Rosnes on piano, Anat Cohen on clarinet, Melissa Aldana on tenor saxophone, Ingrid Jensen on trumpet, Noriko Ueda on bass, Allison Miller on drums, and Cécile McLorin Salvant on vocals. The album begins with "Goddess Of The Hunt" which has an incisive piano, bass and drums foundation, allowing the horns build in and developing a swirling theme. Tenor saxophone solos grandly over strong rhythm support, framed by the other horns, with Rosnes sounds great in support and soloing, developing interesting figures as the trumpet punches loose soaring and then turning over to clarinet flying over the crisp drumming, followed by the horns melding nicely with the rhythm for conclusion. Spacious and patient, "Frida" has saxophone over thoughtful rhythm, allowing the music to breathe in an artful way and the instruments to blend gracefully. The sounds fill in layers and stratify, with instruments like the tenor sax take the helm for brief solo sections that work quite well within the overall concept of the musical performance. Swelling and receding, the rhythm section makes the most of their centerpiece, and allowing some dynamic drumming to launch the group into the finale of the piece. "Big Top" has rippling piano and swirling light sounds which bring forth a fun and light hearted performance, with a bright and swinging theme. Bounding piano and explosive drumming push the music forward, in a very exciting flash of cascading piano and reeds, coming back to the riotously colorful theme and conclusion. The graceful "Step Forward" has a gradually unfolding opening section that allows the players room to move within the theme. The music soars followed by Cohen breaking out for a swooping clarinet solo played with vigor, with blustery trumpet cutting in to push the music into more angular territory. A well played bass solo re-grounds the music, framed by piano and light percussion, followed by some stellar piano playing that leads the group back together for a return to the original theme and sendoff. This album worked quite well and should appeal to most mainstream jazz fans. Each of the musicians also wrote for the album in addition to arranging popular pieces like The Beatles "The Fool on the Hill" and Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder." Artemis - amazon.com

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