Saturday, April 24, 2021

Miguel Zenon - Law Years: The Music of Ornette Coleman (Miel Music, 2021)

Alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon writes that he fell hard for the music of Ornette Coleman while growing up in Puerto Rico, eventually meeting the great man a few times after moving to New York. He put together this band that included Ariel Bringuez on tenor saxophone, Demian Cabaud on bass and Jordi Rossy on drums to create this album which was recorded during a residency at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club in Basel, Switzerland in May of 2019. "Free" has a rising and falling theme that gives the musicians a lot to work with, evolving into a complex improvisation for the full band. The group is playing full throttle with propulsive bass and drums, and the two saxophonists carving out niches for themselves as they sprint forward. This is a very exciting performance, hearing the group just go for it all out in a live setting must have been thrilling to see live. The band stretches out nicely on "Giggin'" with a jaunty open ended theme leaving plenty of room, saxophone over bass and drums at a nice medium up tempo with some built in flourishes. Moving to tenor saxophone, keeping the groove going, the bass and drums have such a deep pocket, the saxophone can go anywhere, but stays true to form with a thoughtful and expressive solo. A bass solo is featured, framed by light percussion, then back to the theme for the conclusion. "Dee Dee" is a short and fun blast of music, with a buoyant theme that sets the stage for a wonderful improvised section, as the two horns twirl about one another, become more complex and free as the performance develops. The track becomes a joyous cacophony of elastic bass and drums and increasingly frantic saxophone playing. The medley of "Toy Dance / Street Woman" concludes the album, with a fast and colorful opening section that builds a dynamic alto saxophone solo over taut bass and drums. Wonderful filigrees of saxophone against increasingly loud drumming keep the pace fresh leading to a connective space for the bass and drums to assert themselves bridging the two compositions. The full band comes together to engage then the tenor saxophone emerges to make his statement on the second composition, digging in and playing playing in a strong and fertile manner. Deeply rhythmic drum solo fits right in with the nature of the performance, leading the band back to the final theme. This album worked very well, the musicians are at the top of their game playing some complex music at very fast tempos with nary a hitch. Their comradery matched with the zeitgeist and compositions of Ornette Coleman made for a potent composition. Law Years: The Music of Ornette Coleman - bandcamp

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