Thursday, February 28, 2013
Potpourri for February
From the rubato opening moments of the first track, "Uprisings and Revolutions", to the gospel/funk-inspired rhythms and splendid saxophone sounds of the final cut, "Family Ties", this music has substance as well as many fine solos. McCaslin's solos start with a wealth of melodic possibilities, allowing him to follow his muse. On that first track, he jumps aboard the fiery drumming, the excellent bass counterpoint and the rich piano chords to produce a brilliant statement. Binney is also an adventurous soloist, digging into the rich chords on the title track and taking his lines high above the thunderous rhythm section. That cut also features the wordless vocals of Thana Alexa; her work is reminiscent of the vocals one hears in the Metheny band. On the second, slower, half of the track (at 14:19, it's the longest on the disk), Escreet creates an emotionally rich solo, with melodic phrases falling like rainwater off a pitched roof. As the energy level rises, the song takes on an urgency that draws in the listener.
The funky trio of saxophones and drums lead one into "The Real McDaddy" - after that New Orleans-inspired interaction, the band maneuvers the tricky, odd-meter, melody line. Escreet's Fender Rhodes work si slippery and sly as are the bass lines and the leader's dancing drum accompaniment. The driving rhythms and twin saxophone attack of "Medusa" are yet another highlight, with both McCaslin and Binney pushing the energy levels. McCaslin switches to soprano for the handsome ballad "Air", blending his voice on the closing reading of theme with Binney's expressive alto.
"New Life" is contemporary music at its best. Antonio Sanchez is a generous composer and arranger, with melodies ripe with harmonic variations for the soloists. He allows those soloists time to build coherent, fiery and joyous statements; listeners can get lost in their fine work or get lost in just effortless the rhythm section lends its support. Hard not to imagine this quintet being wonderful in a live setting - in the meantime, grab hold of "New Life" and enjoy the ride. For more information, go to www.antoniosanchez.net.
Despite that oddity, "One" is quite enjoyable, a well executed program that shows the many and varied sides of Jonathan Kreisberg. If you have paid attention to his music, you'll know that he has always embraced melody and built his solos organically from them. He can play but, even better, his music has heart. For more information, go to www.jonathankresiberg.com.
Also to the leader's credit, these songs do not overstay their welcome with only one over 6 minutes and most under 5. The solos are concise but impressive; it's the wonderful support of the musicians that stand out as does Giacomo Gates's "easy" approach to the vocals.He does not force his way through the material, making the experience all the more satisfying. To find out more, go to www.giacomogates.com.