Saxophonist Joel Press is a
versatile musician who has performed with such diverse players as
pianist Jaki Byard, bassist Jimmy Garrison of the John Coltrane Quartet,
vocalist Sheila Jordan and Duke Ellington's ubiquitous cornetist/
violinist/ vocalist Ray Nance. A native New Yorker, he pursued classical
studies at The Manhattan School of Music, where he earned a Master's
Joel Press speaks the language of swing based, post-World
War II jazz in as singular a fashion as any living saxophonist. He has
been listening to this music all of his life, and playing it for almost a
In recognition of the scope of his artistry,
CADENCE JAZZ RECORDS which released his CD, MAINSTREAM EXTENSIONS,
included his MUSIC FROM A PASSIONATE TIME in their historical series.
The latter is a unique sampling of multi-track recordings of
compositions and improvisations written for dance and film in the early
1970s. While reflecting his mainstream roots, this music is of a
distinctly avant garde nature, a language which Press continues to
explore in his duo and quartet performances with pianist Kyle Aho.
Public Radio recently described Press as "The legendary Boston jazz
musician." (He relocated to Boston in the late 1970s.) Grammy award
winner, Bob Blumenthal wrote in his review of The Boston Globe Jazz
Festival 's, Tribute to Lady Day and Prez, for which Joel served as
music director: "All three tenors played well throughout and got better
as the evening wore on. Press, closest to the source, took the coolest
approach, but all burned in their own manner".
In a subsequent
concert review, Arthur Hepner, of The Boston Globe wrote" Solid
techniques, rich sounds, imaginative improvisations and well meshed
interplay yielded fine embroideries of music by Johnny Green, Cole
Porter and others. Press's supple work on BODY AND SOUL constituted the
A stunning empathy between piano and vibraphone. Refined, balanced double bass and drums. An extremely sophisticated quartet, striking a perfect balance between the enlightened creativity of the 60’s and today’s modern sound. Pianist Giovanni Mirabassi, who is part of this tight quartet together with Stefon Harris on vibraphone, Gianluca Renzi on double bass and Lukmil Perez Herrera on drums, composed “No Way Out” as his second recording for CAM JAZZ. This album opens with the title track, a statement of intent as to the entire recording. The synergism between Mirabassi and Harris leads to steadily evolving musical ideas that unfold out of the pianist’s themes. All eight tunes in “No Way Out” are by the band leader: from “The Snow White Syndrome” and “What Was Dream About” to “L’Audace”, “Canzone” and “Il Bandolero Stanco” (perhaps a tribute to an unappreciated movie featuring the Italian actor Renato Rascel?), listeners are returned to a Mirabassi in a state of grace, capable of composing in a fresh, highly inspired way, heeding the moods and refinement of the great Blue Note standards from the 60’s. He is a full-fledged musician who knows how to express himself, for having accrued valuable artistic experience over his long-standing career: his playing with Chet Baker and Steve Grossman, when he was just seventeen; his moving to and growing up in Paris, when he was just over 20; and, not to forget, being awarded the “Django d’Or” and “Victoires du Jazz” prizes in 2002. All this flowed into “No Way Out”, a recording to be listened to and enjoyed inquisitively, carefully and committedly, in order to discover how many ideas pop out of the hat of this talented, distinguished pianist from Perugia.
Recorded and mixed in Brooklyn on 8, 9 December 2013 at Systems Two Recording Studio