Friday, February 3, 2017

OCDC’s Get The Blessing is a good humored and refreshing urban party! The fat, club era bass meshes surprisingly well with sax. The parameters of free playing are outlined just as a wah–wah re-orients our preconceptions. Hand claps help create a folky spirit that further sketches out OCDC'S sonic blueprint.
The distinctive color of a baritone sax blends perfectly with trumpet enabling each voice to interact while remaining clarified within their own registers. The result of this unique mix is a new rock conscious sophisticated urban jazz.
The opening of Americano Meccano reminds me of the famous opening feed – back guitar from I Feel Fine. The natural sound of birds is cleverly orchestrated setting off the baritone – and resulting in a jazz pop orchestration that isn’t fusion – or even hybrid – but an organic coming together of corollary styles.  Peaches n Regalia from Frank Zappa’s Hot Rat’s album comes to mind.
Torque opens with some old school delay – like a Tel-Ray panning across the stereo field.  Once again the orchestral sense of the band shines as the Jam Band bass emphasis creates a nice color contrast with the trumpet. The piece builds into a surreal piano cadenza as the trippy rhythmic delay dissipates.
Adagio in Wot Minor begins with some sustained horns, setting up a striking and beautiful moment as the rhythm section enters featuring a 1960's  sounding tremolo guitar framing the classic horn lines and defining the OCDC sound. The track vacillates between the two sensibilities: mid- 60’s Blue Note horn melodies and an early progressive rock soundscape – a little bit Soft- Machine – a little bit Zappa. The beautiful delay / reverb guitar drops of aural paint on the canvas of the horn solos and the mysterious – secret agent era guitar… could only be OCDC. The Adagio maintains it’s identity while cohesively revealing it’s musical DNA lineage both  in the processed elements and how they interact with the improvisational elements.
Between Fear and Sex opens with a bass and drum / percussion section followed by a sax head. The bass and drum groove is killin’ on this one !
Horns soulfully lay out the melody and mood shifting into an almost klezmery spirit as the piece grooves along till the drums enter through the soaring spirited melodic line. The horns kind of echo each other – entrance wise – as some spacey bass and percussion carry out Fear and Sex.
A funky bass groove will pull you into The Waiting.  Mellow high-hats and Andrew Hill era horn lines sail over the rock grooves. Get The Blessing treats each piece as a composition –never lapsing into perfunctory traditional solo head solo forms. OCDC  has a keen sense for this kind of orchestral balance – and an excellent compositional awareness that often opens up a spotlight to a hip sound , a distinctive wah-wah and  bass sonority or a classic two horn arrangement.
This music is made for a live gig --and these structures are malleable enough so that an infinite amount of variations are conceivable in the context of live shows.
A classic plucked bass groove – ends the piece. As with several other tunes on the recording the narrative often opens or spills into a solo section –giving the production of the record a cinematic dimension. Get The Blessing is a spirited and textural generational get -together!
Two horns open Low Earth Orbit with a muscular beat Lovely tom-toms leading into a sax solo are augmented by some smart trumpet guide lines and finely tuned pedal rich guitar strokes. Swells, flanges and filter sweeps fill out the Low Earth Orbit stratosphere.
Petopia begins with bass and a harpy sounding guitar. The texture here is lovely and strong! The drums – dropping in and out every few bars spotlights the guitar tremolo ethos and effectively sets the party vibe structures in place.  More Hot Rats era Zappa feel through these mercurial textures. The hand–clapping – and almost  Klezmer like sax over a 60”s funky sounding clav guitar and muted trumpet takes Petopia out as the long sustained reverb of the horn drifts away. 

Philip Dizack’s End of an Era the trumpeter’s second release is a nocturnal urban soundtrack reflecting the end of one era and it’s transformative rebirth into another.
End of an era opens with a nice piano intro. Suspended chords and string pads pull back the curtain as Phillip steps up to the mic. The music immediately conveys a sophisticated textural ambience with Phillip’s fine playing always in service of the music never the reverse.
Grow the bop influenced second track illustrates the band’s conceit -bringing together sensibilities from the era ended and the one we are in. Electric piano jabs create an interesting ensemble flavor that mixes nicely with the
horn dialogue -evoking the era of those great Blue- Note recordings where the horn players were front and center. Here, the horns are supported with a modern sounding rhythm section –one era reborn into another – The head out is nicely played for any era.
The Bass takes the melody in Forest Walker. Congas and percussion support the plaintive lead within a medium groove.
Thuja night begins with a traditional trumpet drum and bass trio before
the drums and bass lock into a hot groove – This is night music ! The half-valved  notes and pop flavor , subtle bass harmonics – sound just right !
What  if  a cover of the Coldplay tune – the only track not written by Phillip begins with a flavorful muted trumpet . This is very smooth without being vacuous – The arrangement has a beautiful pop sensibility! From the chamber like strings to the late –night – rainy drive home single note piano thoughts dropping like rain on the windshield… The electric piano mixes nicely with the acoustic – solo string lines are painted into the ensemble canvas--- and build into a trumpet driven power pop ballad unwinding to a nice trumpet and piano resolution.
The 70’s sounding open of Book of Stones  -- full of harmonic anticipation moves into a dynamic horn driven head. The band is crisp and responsive as the piano takes the lead. Tasty solo percussion textures lead us back into the theme.
Book of Stones relaxes into a very pleasant exhalation as it winds down through the form.  An atmospheric section /intro leads into a soulful reading of the head
The solos here and throughout the recording are never jamming or meandering – but are always structured within the texture of the arrangements – serving the composition.
Yele starts with piano and pad like the beginning of an epic film. A cool trumpet bass and drum trio – blooms from the film type intro. A dreamy interlude evolves back to the full band. Nice piano solo here as the drums open up leaving some welcome space. The Strings create a provocative and intriguing cushion for the single note piano wanderings.  After a strong trumpet lead and the theme out Yele moves into a sparse section before settling down to a close.
Mirror, Mirror is nicely arranged and fun. Musical echoes between the horn and piano – like a mirror – will intoxicate and captivate. Here the band is at it’s best – approaching a pop ballad from the perspective of a classic jazz horn group.
Parenthetical improvisational sections move into a full – fledged –more traditional trumpet solo here – and are structured back into the theme allowing pockets of nuance from the bass and piano in the evolving landscape. There is a recapitulation of the “Mirror Mirror” theme --- infused into the final chord – as the horns fade.
 End of an Era is great music for listening – and great for the background – a perfect fit for smooth jazz radio networks, driving to dinner and driving home from dinner…
The Torch has been passed from one era into another and on Torch – one of my favorites …  the piano and trumpet end the collection with a classic ballad-- cleaning the palate… A very nice transition – a sort of pop and jazz flavored lullaby.
This simple final tune like the rest of End of an Era will appeal to a wide range of listeners regardless of what era they may be from.

 Pianist Uri Caine and drummer Han Bennink team up for a timeless recording at Amsterdam’s famous Bimhuis
Sonic Boom’s live ambience is skillfully captured throughout this recording and is a refreshing pleasure. A drum prelude leads into the piano’s entrance. Every piano note is audible and transparent as are the drums but the stir from the audience is palpable as the Sonic Boom energy resonates in their veins and now -thanks to this new 816 music recording-  in ours.           
Grind Of Blue's crystal clarity is achieved through Uri’s classical articulation
Ascending block chords build, drifting into slightly more boppish lines. The listener can feel the energy from the oo’s and ahh’s after solos and at the end of each piece from the mesmerized Bimhuis Crowd.                 
Hobo fluidly modulates in and out of classic grooves. A drum solo starting off somewhat reminiscent of Benny Goodman’ Sing Sing Sing remarkably shifts the tone as all the orchestral power and architectural support of the piano deepens even in it’s absence Fine rim work by Han and cool accents on toms lead into a very 60’s TV kind of jazz ending.
`‘Round Midnight begins with Caine inside the piano plucking the strings; as facile a pianist under the lid as he is on the keyboard! Again the duo moves naturally between free and structured sections in the great Thelonious Monk classic. .                   As I Was is poignant and understated with subtle percussion by Han lighting up the piece.  There is an uncanny awareness of space here and how the space interacts with the various duo textures that’s almost like another presence… The space is almost an invisible third member of the band. Both Uri and Han play with virtuosic fire leading As I was into a classic hard hitting tag capped by a descending arpeggio and low register flourishes from Uri.
Furious Urious begins passionately. Caine is facile stylistically, technically and harmonically turning mid piece to a blues shuffle for the most traditional playing of the record. The drums are so full of harmonics here it almost feels like a bass player is sitting in! Caine ties a knot on Furious Urious with a signature Basie ending.
Upscale drums start a bit like Night in Tunisia then fragments into a free section. Han’s drums sing out like tibetan bowls as they orbit the piano.
Caine returns to playing inside the piano – now stroking the strings – using the pedal for deep theatrical reverb. Han answers with subito forte hits. Uri develops an amazing groove using an upper harmonic plucked string as a pedal point
 Uri and Hans feverishly play into a Furious head out that leaves the crowd buzzing.         
True Love starts out kind of free – then references an almost Broadway like progression followed by some hard rock gospel grooves. Stop time gospel – provides an opportunity for  the drums to groove in familiar waters. Repetitive single notes and articulate full keyboard swirls are captured with clarity by the artful recording. Uri Ends True Love improvising something that sounds like it could be part of a Chopin etude before resolving to the tonic.

Lockdown’s stark chords and more traditional hard hitting swing style mixed with McCoy Tyner type modal soundscapes closes out Sonic Boom. Another antecedent consequent section moves into bop lines, swinging sections and free flourishes. Uri and Hans play with the tag form again here and it makes a fitting close to the remarkable evening. Caine’s right hand staccato chords and Scriabin middle register improvisations build to a final virtuosic flourish and a magical final thump of the drums. 

Vadim Neselovskyi’s Music for September Produced by Boston based jazz pianist Fred Hersh is a lyrical solo piano collection of standards, classics and originals.  The interplay between the left and right hand create a delightful conversation and dynamic orchestral palette while keeping the listener engaged throughout the program.  The piano here is recorded with a chamber like austerity avoiding the risk of ear fatigue that a solo piano album presents. Vadim’s fresh reharmonizations and musicality will keep you in suspense moment after moment, chord after chord.

The CD opens with an original composition Spring Song. The crystalline voicings brewing with inner fire set the listener in place for the painterly solo piano journey. Percussive ostinatos are groundwork for pentatonic right hand swirls punctuated with percussive Chick Corea like rhythms and harmonically rich arpeggios. Spring’s Inner Section shifts seamlessly into a darker color carried by suspenseful motivic development

Chopin’s Mazurka opens another chapter in the unfolding story of Music for September. In this reimagined classic the dynamic clarity, harmonic underpinning and syncopation inventively map out common ground between the late romantic harmonic language and contemporary jazz improvisation.

Sinfonia no. 11 in G minor by J.S. Bach carries us deeper into the story as we are treated to a cool reading with organically extrapolated ideas musically performed without the affectations that sometimes accompany improvisational variations of classic repertoire. 

Similar to a great suspenseful movie where each moment unravels unexpected turns and surprises the intriguing sense of the composer searching and discovering his way through these improvisations holds the listener track after track. In many ways the record feels like a duo thanks to Vadim’s finely tuned right/ left hand independence. The references to traditional piano swing in Birdlike never become pedantic but are folded into Vadim’s pianistic Utility Belt.

The denser texture and reharmonizations in the classic Body and Soul like the myriad paths in the forest of sonic expectations and deviations from expectations within another classic All the Things You Are will bring the listener back to the recording time after time. Jarrett like flourishes often erupt from the calm Coplandesque landscape of the familiar bridge – as Vadim moves fluidly from modern classical references to post bop Jarrett virtuosity – with the piano of course being the common denominator.

San Felio the 2nd original opens with a Spanish flare. You can hear Vadim’s soulful singing along layered deeply into the mix here seasoning like a spice adding a subtle layer of participatory excitement.

The Rodgers and Hart standard My Romance freshly immerges from an imaginative intro. Contrapuntal voice leading in the Bill Evans tradition is folded into the kaleidoscopic piano odyssey. The head out of the lovely standard is original and confident – just some great playing !

Andantino in modo  de canzona by Tchaikovsky surprises with a vocal drenched in cinematic reverb --a whiskey fallen hipster voice with breathy and throaty accents in the tradition of the Brazilian soloists by way of the Ukraine …The left and right hand again – resume there discursive and painterly conversation ending the piece- the singer’s voice still resonating eerily like a ghost.

The collection closes with Epilogue another original – Cycling back to Vadim the composer and his relationship with the piano. Music for September offers fresh perspectives through the ocean of solo piano style and technique leaving us with a welcome voice in the symposium of solo piano recordings.