Melodically, this is one of the strongest recordings of the year. Ulery writes episodic melodies, with phrases that connect the way sentences in a short story or novel do. Not concerned with flashy technical flourishes or long solos, these pieces unfold in surprising, intelligent and, often, fun ways. There is more than a hint of Steve Reich in the continual piano figure of the opening track "The Lady Vanishes" (not the soundtrack to the PBS "Masterpiece Mystery" presentation) yet the melody moves in, around and over the double-time repetition. The rhythm bounces in the fashion of Eastern European music but changes with regularity. Deitemyer's explosive drum work and the excellent piano work of Clearfield stand out yet make sure to pay attention to the work of the leader. Throughout the program, Ulery is the "foundation" of the music, setting up the "framework" for each track; sometimes he'll cede that role to the trumpet and bass clarinet (as he does during the melody section of "Carefree", even taking a rare - for him - solo) freeing the drummer and pianist to roam around beneath the soloists. One must listen to how gracefully all the elements come together on "Over Under Other" and take into account the various ways that Deitemyer influences the pace and intensity of the music. Hill and Bradfield (who normally can be heard on tenor saxophone - check out his impressive 2013 release, "Melba") complement each other throughout the program with phrases that overlap or weave around each other.
Clearfield moves to accordion for "My Favorite Stranger", a tune with a melody that has the feel of one by Kurt Weill and has a splendid solo from Hill. For the final track, "All The Riven", Hill, Bradfield and Clearfield share the melody line for a ballad whose chordal patterns change as the piece picks up in intensity, ascending towards a solemn finish. It's emotionally charged yet stunning in its performance.
"Wake An Echo" is music to be savored time and again; you can listen for the wonderful interaction of the trumpet and bass clarinet, to the expressive drum work, the excellent contributions of the pianist and the intelligent designs (no religious intent on the part of the reviewer) of Matt Ulery. This music needs "deep listening" - the rewards are many. For more information, go to www.mattulery.com.
"Invisible House" succeeds on many levels thanks to the vision of Jacob Duncan. The music has moments of warmth, of power, of subtlety and wit - Liberation Prophecy makes a joyous racket! For more information, go to www.liberationprophecy.com. The octet will be in New York City on August 19 to play 2 shows at the Blue Note Jazz Club, 131 West 3rd Street. For ticket information and more, go to www.bluenote.net/newyork/.
His 9th CD, "Latin Jazz – Jazz Latin", has just been issued on his Patois Records label and features his Quintet of Murray Low (piano), David Belove (electric bass), Colin Douglas (drums) and Michael Spiro (percussion) plus a slew of special guests including the afore-mentioned Escovedo (percussion on the silky smooth "La Habana"), violinist Mads Tolling and trumpeter John Worley. Tolling shines on the sensuous "Melambo", blending his sounds with the trombone and fine flute work of Elena Pinderhughes. She and Tolling also star on the rousing "¡A Ti Te Gusta!" that opens the program. Wallace includes 2 songs associated with the Duke Ellington Orchestra including a bluesy take on "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" (great feel in the rhythm section plus a smoking trombone solo) and a bolero take on "Prelude To a Kiss." There's a rollicking version of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" as well as medium tempo "bomba" take on Thelonious Monk's "I Mean You." Pianist Low is stalwart throughout the CD and takes a bluesy solo here. His piano lines dance from the keyboard, meshing perfectly with the active rhythm section.
If you have a hankering for Latin music that will set you soul on fire and cause you to dance around the house, "Latin Jazz – Jazz Latin" is what you want. As he has done throughout his career, Wayne Wallace hits all the right notes, ably supported by his fine Quintet. Congratulations on his new appointment. For more information, go to patoisrecords.com.