Thursday, November 15, 2012
Gravity Defying + Musical Notes
The group will play 2 sets - 8:30 and 10 p.m. - call 203-785-0468 or go to firehouse12.com for reservations and more information. To hear music from the new CD (and more), go to www.greenleafmusic.com.
School and extra-curricular activities have forced me to put aside reviewing for a while. That does not mean I have not been listening to music. In fact, there are 5-10 recordings in rotation on my iPod and car CD player. Here's a quick look at 2 of my recent favorites:
and Director of Jazz & African-American Music Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst - if you go to his University webpage, you'll see a picture of him holding a trumpet, the instrument he plays in the New England Jazz Ensemble and the classical outfit Solid Brass. He's also the drummer in the Amherst Jazz Orchestra. His Quartet features Adam Kolker (tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet), James Cammack (bass) and Steve Johns (drums) - the surprise here is that Professor Holmes is featured exclusively on piano and he's quite the player. While these 9 songs are filled with fine solos from all involved, what stands out for me is the emphasis on melody all the way through, from the 5 originals to the covers to the lovely "Waltz #3", a work by the pianist's brother Toby Holmes. The wonderful arrangement of Nat Simon's quite recognizable melody "Poinciana" is so intelligent (great bass clarinet work from Kolker) and there's a catchy take of guitarist John Abercrombie's "Labour Day" (from his 1988 "Getting There" CD - Holmes recorded a version with the New England Jazz Ensemble.) Drummer Johns (who I saw a number of times backing bassist Mario Pavone in the 1990s) shines brightly, whether pushing the beat on "Macaroons" (a Holmes original that reflects the influence of the Keith Jarrett/Jan Garbarek band from the 1970s) or swinging with glee on "So Long, Farewell." Cammack, long time associate of pianist Ahmad Jamal, is the foundation on which all the others swing. Kolker never overplays; his gentle tenor saxophone work on "The Senses Delight" has such emotional depth while his soprano sax dances with abandon on the Abercrombie tune. His bass clarinet weaves in and out of the piano lines like a dancer on "One for C.J."
I am certainly not a doctor but, if I were, my patients would be prescribed "Of One's Own" as a panacea for what ails you. This splendid CD definitely worked wonders for me. For more information, go to www.jwholmesmusic.com.