“There are guitarists who live on the edge and guitarists who play
pretty. Few, like Radley, do both.” – Thomas Conrad, New York City Jazz
“Nate Radley eschewed the overindulgence of most jazz guitarists, in
pursuit of a soloing style that flowed with thematic movement and intent
compositional logic.” -Daniel Lehner, Allaboutjazz
"Radley is a mood architect who’s able to move from states of
desolation to anger to repose with relative ease." -Dan Bilawsky,
"Radley plays from his home-base in order to reference outer space." Ariel Bitran, Stereophile.com
Nate Radley is Brooklyn-based guitarist and composer who leads his
own group, can be heard with a variety of collaborative projects, and
works as a sideman in numerous bands both in the New York area and
around the world.
Nate’s first cd as a leader “The Big Eyes” came out in January of
2012 on the Fresh Sound/New Talent label. The cd includes nine of his
original compositions performed by Nate on guitar, Loren Stillman on
saxophone, Pete Rende on fender Rhodes, Matt Pavolka on bass, and Ted
Poor on drums.
In addition to leading his own band Nate performs frequently with the
collaborative band “Bad Touch” which includes Loren Stillman and Ted
Poor, as well as Gary Versace on organ. This band has recorded one cd
under its own name “Like a Magic Kiss” and a second “Winter Fruits”
under the name of the Loren Stillman quartet. Together the band has
toured Europe in 2011 and the U.S. in 2009.
Nate performs with a variety of groups as a sideman and since moving
to New York in 2004 has recorded on over 20 cds. Some of the bands Nate
has performed and recorded with include the Alan Ferber Nonet and Large
Ensemble, Marc Mommaas’ “Landmarc”, the Jon Gordon group, Akiko
Pavolka’s House of Illusion, the Andrew Rathbun ensemble, and the Dave
Smith Quartet. Other bandleaders that Nate has performed with include
John O’Gallagher, Tony Moreno, John McNeil, David Scott, Tom Beckham,
Andy Statman, the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, Aruan Ortiz, and Eric
Rasmussen. Nate also plays regularly with the country band Hope Debates
and North Forty.
Nate has recorded for labels such as Fresh Sound/New Talent,
Sunnyside, Steeplechase, Artistshare, Pirouette, and Tone of a Pitch. He
has performed throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and at jazz festivals
such as the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival, and
the Atlanta Jazz Festival.
Nate studied jazz guitar and composition at New England Conservatory
in Boston, MA where he received a Master’s in Music. He studied with
John Abercrombie, Bob Brookmeyer, Jerry Bergonzi, and George Russell. He
also has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of
Nate has over ten years teaching experience, and currently teaches
jazz guitar, music theory, and jazz ensembles at the Center for
Preparatory studies in Music at Queens College and at Hunter College. In
addition Nate has taught clinics at high schools and universities
throughout the Unites States.
This warm duo collaboration between pianist Marc Copland and guitarist Vic Juris is a textbook example of a well-planned and executed studio date. Starting with an imaginative treatment of "Who Can I Turn To," the chemistry between the two musicians is apparent in their support of each other's solos as well as in the crisp interplay. Other standards, such as "I Loves You, Porgy" and "Stella By Starlight," also display a freshness even though they have been recorded countless times by many other jazz artists. The originals by each man deserve attention as well; both Copland's brooding "Dark Territory" and Juris' "Vaults" have a haunting sound, while the breezy bop of the guitarist's "Twenty Five" is pure joy. Nat Adderley's "Jive Samba" takes on a darker tone in their intriguing arrangement, and the last-minute suggestion of Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma" proves to be the perfect closer, with Copland's lush chords accompanied by Juris on acoustic guitar in a very deliberate performance. This outstanding session deserves to be ranked alongside any of the landmark piano/guitar duo recordings one can name. ~ Ken Dryden
his arrival to New York in 1999 Bob Gingery has been performing with
some of the city's top musicians including Eliot Zigmund, Joe Beck,
Buddy Williams, Alan Harris, Ron Afif, Brad Shepik and Lou Volpe. He
has played at the Blue Note, Birdland, the Hartford International Jazz
Festival, Joe's Pub and the Knitting Factory. Maintaining a busy
schedule as both a sideman and band leader, he is at home with many
styles of music and has performed and recorded with jazz, rock, pop,
r'n'b and latin artists, musicals and symphony orchestras.
Bob is also active as an educator. He is a faculty memeber at Concordia
Conservatory in Bronxville, NY. Working with the nonprofit organization
Music Crossing Borders, he helps to teach students about the music of
cultures from around the world. He has also been a clinician for the
Westchester Community College's Jazz Master Class since 2001.
Originally from the San Francisco bay area, he began playing the
saxophone at age 10 but the sounds of James Jamerson, Rocco Prestia,
and Jaco Pastorius inspired him to pick up the bass guitar. He was soon
gigging with local rock bands and playing in his high school's jazz
band. At age 18 he began studying the upright bass. He holds
undergraduate degrees in music from Berklee College of Music and
California State University, Chico and a Masters Degree in music from
the City College of New York where he studied with Ron Carter, John
Patitucci, and Geri Allen.
01. Second Nature 02. Wheeling 03. Boot Hill 04. Traveler 05. Inland Empire 06. Three Legged Dog 07. Past Lives 08. Cadence
Bob Gingery (b) Jon Irabagon (ts) Mike Baggetta (g) Mark Ferber (d)
"The most important thing I look for in a musician, is whether he knows how to listen."- Duke Ellington -
Can a recreation of an original replicate it? The short, quick answer is NO!, especially for popular and improvised music. However, the longer, more thoughtful, answer is YES!, especially this music from the twenties and thirties as performed by leader Alex Mendham and his Orchestra. Whistling In The Dark is that rare creation where everyone involved has taken extraordinary measures, from recording techniques used, to the use of original arrangements to bring to the listener something approaching the feeling of being in a dance hall in 1929 (or so).
Yes, there are issues: the performers and the music in some sense cannot be separated from the time. Jazz, hot or not, was in extraordinary ferment in the years of 1920 through 1940. One can hear it change almost month to month, as players were experimenting, listening to each other and gaining experience in improvising, while at the same time entertaining the paying audience. The usual lens through which this music is discovered is CD reissues of 78 rpm, three-minute-per-side recordings, and, to tell the truth, part of the charm is to hear the music through the pops and crackle and the primitive acoustical (and early electrical) recording techniques. There was no post-processing—either the performance was accepted or rejected (and to possibly try again). What you hear is what happened then and there, with any chances taken exposed for everyone to hear.
It is in this feeling that Mendham and his Orchestra (NOT a band!) shine. The use of but two microphones in a live space allow each note to come alive with a thrust and forward momentum that carries their energy directly to the soul. Every player obviously loves this music and has gotten inside of it, to the extent that anyone who didn't live through the period can.
The pace of the show is wonderful, using mostly lesser-known tunes, each of which has its own charms, as do the interspersed announcements. Two achingly beautiful tunes, "Home," and "Lullaby of the Leaves" are standouts and ought to become better known. There are light-hearted tunes like "'Tain't No Sin (To Dance Around in Your Bones" as well as hot tunes like the driving opener, "Choo Choo," and "Bugle Call Rag." The arrangements give room for improvising here and there, all of which is quite admirable.
Get out from in front of your TV, put on your tuxedo, get into your ballroom gown, place Whistling In The Dark in your player, and fox trot around the floor, smiling all the while.
Alex Mendham (leader, vocals, alto saxophone)
Angus Moncrieff (trumpet)
Geoff Bartholomew (trumpet)
Chris Lowe (trombone)
Nick Charles (soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, clarinet)
Simon Marsh (tenor saxophone, clarinet)
Orpheus Papafilippou (violin)
Matt Redman (banjo, guitar)
Tevor Wensley (piano)
Marc Easener (tuba, string bass)
Nicholas D. Ball (percussion)
Mark Phillimore (Announcer)
01. Choo Choo
02. Let's Fly Away
04. Red Lips, Kiss My Blues Away
05. Treat Me Like A Baby
06. 'Tain't No Sin (To Dance Around In Your Bones)
"Maja" refers to pianist and composer Maja Alvanović, "misty" is a nod to Erroll Garner, one of her influences. Love is the second album from the trio, based in Novi Sad, Serbia. The trio—Alvanović, bassist Ervin Malina and drummer Istvan Cik—are superb players. Alvanović is melodic, crafting single note runs that are gentle, percussive, romantic in turn. Cik is a positive, economical, drummer and the imaginative Malina is particularly strong on arco bass. The combination of their playing and the pianist's compositions has produced another dazzling album.
Four tracks feature guests, leaving six tunes performed by the Trio on its own. Of the trio outings, "Bloomin'" is irresistibly cheery, Cik's drums jumping and skipping beneath Alvanović's sparkling piano lines (Alvanović closes with a few bars of "Blue Moon"'s familiar theme). The flowing melody of "Careless Moment," co-written by Alvanović and Vesna Grčić) mixes melancholy with a sense of forward movement. "Coolah Trance" (written by Alvanović and guest vocalist Aleksandra Drobac) switches between upbeat positivity and high drama—the switchover announced by the arrival of Malina's arco bass and the disappearance of Cik's percussive click and clack. Malina's soft-toned and fluid pizzicato bass is at the core of "Suddenly Japan," a slow burner of a tune that threatens to break out at any time, yet retains its ultimately unresolved tension throughout.
Drobac guested on Mistyland and returns for four songs on Love. Her most distinctive appearance is on "Little Cosy Keysy House." Her weird, wordless, vocal lends an other-wordly vibe to Alvanović's bright, endearing, melody. On a bright, sunny day this eccentric song sounds cheerful and happy—on a wet and stormy night the strangeness might seem much darker.
Three songs find the trio augmented by additional instrumentalists. On "Rain Dots" percussionist Uroš Šecerov joins the band in support of Drobac's sprightly (and spritely) vocal—a friendlier and more comforting other worldliness than the one she creates on "Little Cosy Keysy House." On "Mustard Fields" Gisle Torvik's guitar and Bunford Gabor's alto saxophone add depth and tonal variation to the front line while Uroš Šecerov adds understated percussion to the rhythm section. Alvanović and Drobac contribute wordless vocals, matching Alvanović's piano melody. The result is, like "Careless Moment," melancholy: but this theme seems to resolve to a more hopeful ending. For the album's title track Drobac is joined by Alvanović, Cik and Malina on vocals and by Damir Bacikin, whose eloquent muted trumpet has immediate impact, setting the mood for this intense and sensitive tune.
Mistyland (Self Produced, 2012) was a five star debut. Love is the sound of a composer who's becoming ever more ambitious and a band that's growing in confidence. It's a five-star second album, with some of the loveliest melodies of the year.
Guitarist Vic Juris triumphs again on Songbook 2, aided by bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Jeff Hirshfield. Like its predecessor, this album features mainly standards and jazz classics, with one Juris original -- the melodic, modulating waltz "One True Friend" -- thrown in for good measure. Juris' tone is modern but woody and full-bodied, leaping out in the mix. Formanek, taking over for Jay Anderson, supports Hirshfield's animated rhythms with a massive yet limber bass sound. Juris leads off with "Long Ago and Far Away" -- which happens also to be the opener on Adam Rogers' Art of the Invisible, released around the same time (the two versions are worth hearing back to back). Other highlights include John Lewis' "Django," Scott LaFaro's "Gloria's Step," and John Coltrane's "Giant Steps," as well as oft-overlooked items like "You Won't Forget Me" (played on acoustic guitar), "Golden Earrings," and Thelonious Monk's "Locomotive." ~ David R. Adler
The excellent program on Songbook features fare both well-known ("Billie's Bounce," "All the Things You Are") and less familiar (Golson's "Touch Me Lightly"). But Juris takes lots of chances here. Bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Jeff Hirshfield appear on both records and work regularly with Juris, and it shows. Both are good at keeping things moving and staying out of people's way. Juris' work on classical guitar is impressive, especially his very intelligent reading of Django's "Nuages." Referring to the original and then going elsewhere, Juris reveals both sensitivity and serious chops along the way. But most notable is the startling solo rendition of Bill Evans' "Time Remembered." This is an inside player really reaching out, like Attila Zoller sometimes used to do, but going even further. Guitar-watchers should take note of this impressive and adventurous player.
Vic Juris is a versatile and impressively accomplished guitarist. His playing exudes warmth, intelligence and respect for the tradition. Perhaps best of all, he seems to understand that the foregoing positives also apply to a legion of contemporary guitarists, and he looks for ways to set his work apart, in terms of sound, approach, or material. I have yet to warm up, however, to one of Juris' ways of sounding different: his use of a highly processed sound, which is present on most of Remembering Eric Dolphy.
I like almost everything else about the Dolphy tribute, from the covers to the interesting originals, to the playing of the sidemen, to the simple fact that a modern-mainstream stylist is making this gesture. Dick Oatts does a nice job on alto, tenor and flute. One quickly gets over the fear of comparing him to Dolphy. His style is closer to Lee Konitz, though his sound is a little harder. He seems to adjust his approach on the Dolphy tunes, creating phrases that are more abstract but still quite unlike those of the author. Juris gets off some great solos himself, especially on uptempo items like "South St. Exit" and "Out There." The tone thing distracts me more in the ensembles than the solos, but even having this problem I found much more to like than dislike on this gutsy release.
There can't be many bands with a piano and an organ in the front line. There are few better exponents of Hammond organ—actually a KeyB—than Alberto Marsico ("I've never heard anybody do it better than Alberto"—Joey DeFrancesco) while Jeremy Monteiro—widely considered as the best jazz pianist in Asia—has cut it with James Moody, Michael Brecker, Jimmy Cobb, Toots Thielemans and, for twenty seven years with Ernie Watts. This is a summit meeting indeed. Guitarist Eugene Pao, drummer Shawn Kelley and tenor saxophonist Shawn Letts also bring plenty of bite—and no little finesse—to a set of hard-swinging, blues-drenched originals.
The celebratory "Mount Olive," Monteiro's homage to his former band-mates Eldee Young and Redd Holt, gets the set off to a flyer, with sunny melody, cracking solos, an unshakeable beat and a Gospel-blues wind-down setting the template for much that follows. Jazz and blues aside, there's bags of soul in these tunes; Marsico's organ takes us to the church of Ray Charles on the up-beat "Opening Act," with Monteiro chipping in with some tumbling boogie woogie. There's a hint of Miles Davis' "All Blues" on the intro to "Olympia," a powerful R&B number with Pao, Marsico, Letts and Monteiro all working up some steam.
The quintet takes its foot off the gas for Marsico's epic ballad "Lou," though there's smoldering passion in Letts' tenor. Monteiro's solo is laced with the vocabulary of early blues piano styles, Pao goes for the jugular with a soaring solo whereas Marsico lays down shimmering swathes of sustain; though all are singing from the same jazz-blues-soul hymn sheet the musician's individual personalities shine through. Kelley—an exciting, versatile drummer—plays the anchor role for the most part though on the melodious Monteiro/Pao tune "Monk in the Mountain," the Bangkok-based sticksman muscles in over organ and piano vamps.
Marsico's swinging "Jack-Pot" pays homage to Hammond organ legend Jack McDuff, who returned the compliment by recording the tune. Pao's fluid, Kenny Burrell-tinged blues is a highlight, contrasting with Monteiro and Marsico's more rhythmically pronounced interventions. Pao—first-call guitarist in Hong Kong—delivers the sort of chops throughout the set that convinced Michael Brecker, John Patitucci and Jack DeJohnette to play on By the Company You Keep (Somethin' Else, 1996), the guitarist's debut as leader.
An absolute album highlight is the wonderful reworking of Lennon and McCartney's ode to love "Here, There and Everywhere." This classic pop ballad starts out as a hushed blues with Kelley on brushes as Monteiro, Marsico and Pao tread softly in turn. The rousing finale, with Kelley switching to sticks is as surprising as it is energizing. All guns blaze on "Catastrophy." Marsico penned this tune in 2002 during the war on Iraq, dedicating it to the three Bs -Bush, Blair and Berlusconi. This tearing bebop set-closer owes more, thankfully, to Bird, Bud and Burrell.
Jazz-Blues Brothers is a stand-out record in both Monteiro and Marsico's respective discographies. Tuneful and exhilarating, soulful and swinging, Monteiro and Marsico might just have cornered the market in organ-cum-piano jazz.
Recorded in Denmark in 1996, this album showcases the guitarist's working quartet: woodwind player Dick Oatts, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Jeff Hirshfield. And while Juris persists in using a dated-sounding, processed tone, it becomes a minor annoyance in light of his seamless playing, the intelligent arrangements and compositions (mostly originals) and the cohesiveness of the ensemble.
The group's tightness is evidenced by "Critters," a bit quirky uptempo original that grooves solidly, providing a nice vehicle for Juris' eminently fluid lines and refined melodicism. On "You Stepped Out," guitar and sax double the head with breathless precision; later, each gets in a fine, swinging contribution. The title track reflects an additive approach that commences with solo acoustic guitar, transforms into a duet with flute, and is finally augmented by bass and drums-a particularly effective device in the context of the tune's soft and sensitive mood. And Juris' unpredictable lyricism and the effortless way he punctuates his line with chords during Keith Jarrett's "So Tender," a restrained bossa, raises the inevitable question of why he's so underrated and unacknowledged. Beautiful playing throughout.
Alec Wilder is in the running for a dubious honor: most overlooked figure in 20th century music. There's a noble aspect, therefore, to this collection of Wilder's songs, all of which work quite well as vehicles for cutting-edge jazz improvisation. Guitarist and leader Vic Juris enlists Dave Liebman on tenor and soprano sax, Tim Hagans on trumpet, Steve LaSpina on bass, and Jeff Hirshfield on drums. The group faithfully renders Wilder's melodies before the blowing begins -- a musical consideration of utmost importance to Wilder himself, as Bill Dobbins explains in his informative liner notes. Liebman and Hagans are beautifully recorded, and Juris varies the ensemble configurations to feature them, and himself, in ever-changing contexts. Highlights include Hagans and Juris delicately interpreting "Moon and Sand," Liebman soaring through "Blackberry Winter" on soprano, and both hornmen sinking their teeth into "Winter of My Discontent" and "Where Is the One." Nowhere is Wilder's compositional breadth more apparent than in the contrast between the heady angularity of "That's My Girl" and the deep melancholy of "The Lady Sings the Blues."
Jimmy Greene’s new release, Beautiful Life on
Mack Avenue Records, is a celebration of the life of his 6-year-old
daughter, Ana Márquez-Greene, whose life was tragically taken, along
with 19 other children and 6 educators, on December 14, 2012 at Sandy
Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
“I want the music
to reflect the way that Ana lived,” Greene says. He fulfills that
mandate with an intense, cohesive, genre-spanning program—juxtaposing
the hardcore instrumental jazz for which he is best known with
traditional spirituals, contemporary Christian music, standard ballads
and three original songs framing his own lyrics. Animating the
repertoire is a gold-standard rhythm section (Renee Rosnes, piano;
Christian McBride, bass; Lewis Nash, drums), augmented at various points
by guitarists Pat Metheny and Jonathan DuBose, Jr.; pianists Kenny
Barron and Cyrus Chestnut; vocalists Kurt Elling, Javier Colon and
Latanya Farrell; spoken word from Tony Award®-winning actress Anika Noni
Rose; a 13-piece string ensemble from the Hartford Symphony Orchestra;
as well as an accomplished children’s choir.
Greene himself is one
of the most respected saxophonists of his generation since graduating
from Hartt School of Music in 1997. He composed or arranged every
selection and plays tenor and soprano saxophones as well as flute with
customary authority, melodic focus and abiding soulfulness.
the days after my daughter was killed, playing and writing music wasn’t
even a thought,” the 39-year-old saxophonist says. “I was very much in
shock, grieving deeply and trying to just function coherently. Family
and friends surrounded us and held us up, and we received 10,000
communications—emails, texts, Facebook messages, voice calls,
letters—from people around the world. The community of musicians was
front and center for that support. When I called, they responded,
‘Whatever you need, just say the word, and I’ll be there.’”
late January 2013, Greene, feeling that “I needed to get back to some
sense of routine,” resumed a regimen of practice and composition. Soon
thereafter, Norman Chesky, the co-owner of Chesky Records and HDtracks,
reached out with an extraordinary offer.
“An intense amount of
media attention was focused on my family and all of us in Newtown, so I
was fairly guarded whenever communicating with someone for the first
time,” Greene relates. “But Norman offered to donate the production of a
recording that I could do whenever I was ready, and to give me complete
ownership. I was humbled and honored by his generosity, and began to
devote my energies to the project.”
Greene decided to weave lyrics
and singers into the flow for the first time on one of his recordings.
“Ana loved to sing and listen to singers, and had a wonderful singing
voice,” he explains. “So an album dedicated to her memory needed to have
singers and songs that were important to her and me and my family.” Beautiful Life opens with a recording of Ana singing the traditional “Saludos” (“Greetings”) at a Christmas celebration (parranda)
in Puerto Rico with her mother Nelba Márquez-Greene’s family—and her
father playing in the background—a year before her death. Greene segues
to a section in which he and guitarist Pat Metheny perform “Come Thou
Almighty King” before concluding with another family recording of Ana
singing the hymn to her brother Isaiah’s piano accompaniment.
wistful “Last Summer,” a quartet feature, evokes Greene’s impressions of
the photograph of his children—captured from the rear with their arms
around each other’s shoulders in the family’s backyard in Winnipeg,
Canada, where Greene taught at the University of Manitoba between 2009
and 2012—that appears on the cover of Beautiful Life.
The mellow tenor voice of Javier Colon, Greene’s one-time classmate at Hartt who won the 2011 edition of NBC’s The Voice, delivers Greene’s lyric for “When I Come Home” supported by the quartet, Greene’s signifying tenor saxophone and the strings.
Greene initially recorded “Ana’s Way” instrumentally as “Ana Grace” on the 2009 recording Mission Statement.
Complementing Grammy® Award-winner Kurt Elling’s characteristically
penetrating, graceful interpretation is the Linden Christian School
Early Years Choir, comprising classmates of Ana and Isaiah in Winnipeg;
solos by Greene and Rosnes distill the oceanic emotions of the lyric.
“It was brutal seeing Ana’s friends again, without Ana there amongst
them,” Greene says. “But we got through it somehow, and I think the
results are very touching.”
Iconic pianist Kenny Barron joins Greene for conversational readings of the Broadway songs “Where Is Love?” from Oliver and “Maybe” from Annie,
the latter featuring Greene’s pure-toned soprano saxophone. “Kenny,
Christian and Lewis were the rhythm section for the 1996 Thelonious Monk
Competition, where I was named first runner-up,” Greene recalls. “They
made me feel welcomed and comfortable, that I could do this for my life,
and so I wanted them involved.”
“My daughter loved Annie,
and would sing ‘Maybe’ a cappella with great pitch and rhythm in the
back of the car when we were driving around,” Greene recalls. He
includes “Where Is Love” in homage to Jackie McLean, his primary musical
mentor, who showed Greene, then 15, the melody at their first meeting
at Hartford’s Artists Collective.
The penultimate track of Beautiful Life,
titled “Prayer,” is Greene’s musical setting of the text of the “Lord’s
Prayer.” Cyrus Chestnut accompanies Greene’s devotional tenor
saxophone; illuminating the message is Latanya Farrell (who Greene met
while attending Hartt), whose powerful contralto enchanted Ana as a
Ana became a fan of Anika Noni Rose—a high school
classmate of Greene’s in Bloomfield, Connecticut—after hearing her
inhabit the role of Princess Tiana in the animated film The Princess and the Frog. Rose’s recitation of Greene’s optimistic soliloquy “Little Voices” precedes another appearance by the Linden Children’s Choir.
people have asked what they can do to help, and this is my answer,”
Greene says. “Let’s remember what happened at Sandy Hook. We can each
hold up our end of the bargain, which is to somehow learn to love
ourselves, and then see past ourselves and love our neighbor. That’s
pretty simple, but if we all did it, I think our existence would be
Saludos/Come Thou Almighty King - with Pat Metheny
When I Come Home - with Javier Colon
Ana's Way - with Kurt Elling
Your Great Name
Where Is Love? - with Kenny Barron
Maybe - with Kenny Barron
Prayer - with Cyrus Chestnut and Litany Farrell
Little Voices - with Anika Noni Rose
A portion of the proceeds from Beautiful Life will be donated to the following charities in Ana’s name:
The Ana Grace Project of Klingberg Family Centers—initiated by Greene’s wife Nelba, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, to promote love, community and connection for every child and family through partnerships with schools, mental health providers, community organizations and faith leaders. The Artists Collective—where generations of children and families in Greater Hartford have gained access to world-class training in the arts
A good quartet release, featuring Juris on guitar, Phil Markowitz on piano, Jay Anderson on bass, and Matt Wilson on drums. Juris' originals range from the angular free bop of "Mergatroid" to the breezy jazz waltz of "Sim 95," to the dark balladry of "Berlin" and the intriguing 7/4 syncopation of "Bravo Rio" (the latter two performed beautifully on acoustic guitar). Tom Harrell's "Sail Away" and John Coltrane's "26-2" are inspired covers, posing starkly different improvisational challenges and showcasing the band's versatility and depth. Markowitz is characteristically dazzling, his acoustic piano balancing Juris' penchant for signal processing; their duo reading of "Sweet and Lovely" is a highlight. At times Juris' chorus-laden sound can grow wearying; when he finally shuts off the effect for the closing trio piece, "I'll Close My Eyes," his ideas come through more clearly. That said, his occasional use of a guitar-synth pickup results in some very novel phrasing. ~ David R. Adler, Rovi
During some of the selections on his SteepleChase CD, guitarist Vic Juris displays an echoey tone reminiscent of John Scofield while on a few other numbers he has a dryer and subtle acoustic sound. Juris' improvising is on a high level, performing "Estate," "Falling in Love With Love," two obscurities, and six group originals (four of which are his) with creativity. His sidemen (pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Steve LaSpina, and drummer Jeff Hirshfield) are alert and have quick reactions. Two high points are the eccentric "Dekooning" and a tasteful bossa nova rendition of "Estate," numbers that best show off Juris' impressive flexibility. ~ Scott Yanow
Next to a solo piano release, the piano trio may be the most unforgiving ensemble presentations in improvisational music. The harmonic equivalent of tap dancing in a melodic minefield. This is an easy statement to make when you are an admittedly cynical critic that has reviewed more piano trios in four years than most people have heard in their lifetime. This is also a primary reason that George Colligan's Ask Me Tomorrow is a wondrous look into the cerebral vision of an artistic journey that has come full circle. There is a syncopated synergy of harmonic movement that some of Colligan's contemporaries have ignored, perhaps forgetting the piano originated as a percussive instrument. George Colligan pulls an ambient almost ethereal like quality while pushing what is normally considered the "straight ahead" sound into the next dimension.
To focus on the minutia of Ask Me Tomorrow in terms of critical analysis would be doing an injustice to this amazing collective that is rounded off with the fabulous Linda Oh on bass and the lyrical finesse of drummer Ted Poor. While Colligan would seem to favor minor keys, odd meters and an organic pulse, the overwhelming beauty of his melodies only seem stronger for his approach. Open, warm, deceptively subtle in nuanced texture is the embodiment of what can best be referred to as capturing lighting in a bottle as this is a live studio recording, three hours in the studio and no rehearsal. The results include the percussive insistence and odd metered groove of "Insistent Linda." We are also graciously served up an intimate "Jesper's Summer House." The richness of flavor is fortified with the dynamic tension of the free formed "Two Notes, Four Chords." The hauntingly beautiful "Denmark" may well be the jewel in this amazing collection. These are all original compositions, no standards...Ask Me Tomorrow is predictable by embracing an open ended unpredictable nature.
I have been hard on George Colligan and not because I know more about music or because I have some pseudo-intellectual axe to grind but because I knew this was an artist that could go deep. We all can pull from a deeper place; artists, listeners and especially critics. This is the George Colligan I have been waiting for. While the year is still relatively young, Ask Me Tomorrow may be one of the very best recordings I have heard in my four hundred plus reviews thus far and easily one of the most memorable piano trios that I have heard in the last decade.
01 Ask Me Tomorrow 02 Two Notes Four Chords 03 Prague 04 Return To Copenhagen 05 Insistent Linda 06 Jesper's Summer House 07 Cathexis 08 Jet Blue
GEORGE COLLIGAN - piano
LINDA OH - bass
TED POOR - drums
"The most important thing I look for in a musician, is whether he knows how to listen."- Duke Ellington -