"Volk" (self-released) is young Mr. Jewell's second CD with his Quartet - his debut, "First Suite for Quartet", was issued on David Binney's Mythology label and is quite hard to obtain. The opening track, "At The End of the World", is called by the composer "the overture to the album" setting the stage with its dramatic presentation (hear it below). One hears the influence of Spanish music is the conversation between the members of the Quartet. And, what a responsive band, the same musicians as on the debut including pianist Amino Belyamani (Dawn of Midi), bassist Sam Minaie (Tigran Hamasyan), and drummer Qasim Naqvi (Dawn of Midi, Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber). The 3 also play together as the Axis Trio. They are a integral part of telling the majority of the 10 stories on the album (Jewell goes it alone on the final track "Black Is The Color of My True Love's Hair"). This music can be extremely powerful, as displayed on in the opening minutes of "Give Us A Drink of Water" yet the same piece has incredibly quiet passages. And the leader does not even come until after the 4 minute mark of the 11 minute track, then plays a delightfully schizoid solo ranging from bluesy sustained notes to short percussive notes. The tenor solo in the middle of "Radegast" displays an anger, veering into "free" territory yet is followed by one of the prettiest interludes on the album.
Minaie's expressive bowed bass introduce the melody of "Shenandoah" then shares it with the tenor. The piano enters, its sweet and plaintive counterpoint supporting the saxophone before playing parts of the melody. Belyamani's sweet solo is variations of the melody line with the quiet cymbals beneath him. When Jewell re-enterts, he also plays abstracts of the melody, some with a touch of swaggers, others with gentle lyricism. The pianist takes the song out on his own, tenderly reaching the final low chords.
There's beauty, rhythm, energy, melody, counterpoint and splendid interactions throughout "Volk". Ochion Jewell, the composer and arranger, challenges the listener to join in on this journey, to allow the music to seep into one's soul for what is "folk music" but "soul music" in another guise. The Ochion Jewell Quartet plays this music with great passion, something else they share with Charles Lloyd and his Quartet. Play this music next to one of Lloyd's post-2000 CDs - the ensembles, with mostly identical instrumentation, do not sound alike but they both play with great joy.
For more information, go to www.ochion.com.
Daniel Fortin, who is one of the three composer/musicians in the cooperative Myriad3, is a strong player who can play percussively along drummer Fabio Ragnelli and then create the most melodic solos. These pieces flow more than swing and several have quite an intensive drive. A bit of judicious editing (8 songs instead of 10 but which 2 to cut?) might have made "Brinks" a stronger album but it still has much to recommend it.
For more information, go to www.danielfortinthewebsite.com.
Here's a taste to whet your whistle: