In interviews, Sadigursky spoke of how this project came about, the second of 2 recordings with pianist Coq and the group, how much he enjoyed working with them and how easily the sessions went. Of all the recordings, this is one that feels most like "jazz" but not at the expense of the words. Opening with Sandburg's "Basket", a poem that consists of only 2 sentences that the ensemble performs in several different settings. After a short musical introduction, Ms. Correa sings the lines with great power and the band reacts. Coq's chordal attack, pushed by the active rhythm section, supports both the vocalist and the leader's hardy tenor sax solo. Another highlight is the multi-sectioned "Bestiary Suite" (words by Hartford, CT native and graduate of both Wesleyan University and the Yale Divinity School Spencer Reece, who currently serves as the Chaplain to the Bishop of Spain for the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church!) with musical settings for "The Frog", "The Bat", "The Snake", "The Elephant" and "The Cat", the final section played with a wicked tango beat. Zelnik's Charles Mingus-inspired bass intro to "What Do Women Want" (poem by contemporary American poet Kim Addonizio) is a sly beginning to a very playful piece (prepared piano, clanky percussion, Sadigursky's saxophone shadowing the vocal - Ms. Correa does a super job relaying the humor and underlying anger in the narrator's voice. There's also a playful quality to the words and music of Carl Sandburg's "Snatch of Sliphorn Jazz" with the band pushing the tenor solo up and above the vocal. Drummer Jannuska is excellent throughout the program but stands out on this track as well as on "Motto". Based on a poem by Bertold Brecht (the lyrics read " In the dark times, will there also be singing? Yes, there will be singing. About the dark times"), the drummer pushes in over a repetitive electric piano figure and leads the way throughout. Ms. Ranson-Pollizzotti's plaintive "Simple Love Poem" closes the program on a handsome note. While the drummer plays a fast rhythm, the piano and bass play counterpoint to the vocal. When Sadigursky's tenor sax enters, he picks on the impressionistic qualities of both the vocal presentation and Coq's piano.
Sam Sadigursky is certainly not the first person to blend jazz and poetry but he is one who has continued to search for new ways to express both his creativity and help bring the music out in the poetry he explores. The fact that "Words Project IV" features a "working" band - they also recorded an album of Coq's compositions with poetry, to be released later this year on Sunnyside Records - is a plus. The music feels fresh, conversational, wonderfully interactive and quite alive. For more information, go to www.samsadigursky.com and www.newamsterdampresents.com (scroll down to find the article about this CD.) The CD will be available for purchase and review at samsadigursky.bandcamp.com/ on February 26. You can also check it out at Amazon, emusic.com or on iTunes.
Todd Reynolds (violins, violas) and Paul DeJong (cellos) perform "A Simple Place", their combined instruments translating Ryan's compelling melody with deep emotion. Reynolds joins Ms. Chow and Ms. Bathgate on the live performance of "Blurred" that closes the program. The piano introduces the simple yet plaintive melody as the violinist adds high, keening, notes - when the cello enters (3 minutes in), the instrument adds depth. The interwoven melody and harmonies (and implied rhythms) move up and down in intensity but rarely forward, as if the listener is in a pleasant dream adrift on a lake.
Bill Ryan's music on "Towards Daybreak" is often peaceful, offering moments of contemplation. If one needs to lose him-or-herself in music to help ease the madness of everyday life, this is the recording you would want. Simple pleasures, to be sure, but real emotional catharsis. For more information, go to www.billryanmusic.com.