Sunday, November 10, 2013
Ms. Baum's Balm + Ms. Victor's Conquest
Another inspiration is co-producer Richie Bierach; he produced the flutist's second CD, "Sight Unheard" (GM Music), has performed in a duo setting with her and one can hear his musical influence, especially on the title track as well as the piece dedicated to him, "Richie's Lament." His "touch" is notable in the clarity of the melodies and the uncluttered arrangements. Each instrument stands out as not only "playing its role" in the music but also how Ms. Baum weaves the individual sounds together. That "weave" truly stands out on "While We Are Here", in how the "low" sounds of the acoustic bass and bass clarinet mesh with the soft trap set and piano. Yes, there is a gentle feel but also a forward motion, a flow, that engages the listener from the start.
Don't overlook the work that Brad Shepik and John Escreet put into the music. The guitarist offers strong ensemble work throughout the program and can be heard wailing over the rhythm section on the opening cut as well as his creative "percussive" guitar sounds on "In A Nutshell". The pianist, whose new Whirlwind CD "Sabotage and Celebration" is a must-hear, also fits the ensemble like a glove, standing out for his supportive work and his forceful solos - my, how he dives into the funky beats of Hirschfield, Weiss and guest percussionist Samuel Torres on "Ants and Other Faithful Beings."
www.jamiebaum.com - to hear and to download the recording, go to sunnysidezone.com/album/in-this-life.
For information about the Septet's appearance in New Haven, go to firehouse12.com. The following evening, a Quintet version of the group appears at The Side Door in Old Lyme, CT - for more information, go to thesidedoorjazz.com. This venue has got quite a schedule coming up including the Duke Robillard Trio (11/21), the Rene McLean Sextet with Gary Bartz (!) (11/23), the Glenn Zaleski Trio with bassist Dezron Douglas (11/29) and the Donny McCaslin Trio (12/05) - that's just a few of the date so clink on the link above to find out more.
Greene Avenue Music) is the Fay Victor Ensemble's 3rd CD and first without a drummer. Yet, who needs s trap drummer when all 3 members of the group contribute to "rhythm section", whether it's the scratching beat of Nilsson's electric guitar, Filiano's forceful strumming or how his bow bounces off the strings or Ms. Victor's snare drum-like approach to particular phrases of the lyrics.
Just listen to the opening track "Big Bag." Basically, it's a list of what the singer/composer (husband Jochem van Dijk is her collaborator on every track) keeps in her travel bag but the accompanying music combines the late 60s blues feel of Jimi Hendrix with vocals that channel opera, poet/performer Jayne Cortez, Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart and others still to be discovered. During the solo section, the guitarists roams far afield while the bassist creates a thunderstorm beneath. Yet, both musicians return to the "main theme" easily, organically, and with great panache. Her duo with Filiano on the final track "Shaded in Grey" blends playful vocals from both (sounding somewhat like Charles Mingus in the late 50s) - it's an argument that Filiano takes part in as both musician and vocalist.
Ms. Victor's ballad work is often stunning, with an emotional depth that pulls the listener closer. "Crystal" is just voice and guitar; the weaving of sounds, silence, words and music seems so personal yet universal. There is a similar feel to "Seashore", the music like a calm ocean, the voice like a sift breeze creating an intimacy that is tangible and sensuous without feeling forced.
There are 2 tracks - "I'm On A Mission/Paper Cup" and "The Sign At The Door" - that are both over 15 minutes and feature distinct sections. The former track comes at the listener with highly-amplified guitar (blues-rock stylings) and mighty, melodic, bass work then goes into a long, quiet, section (listen closely and you can hear Ms. Victor whispering words and percussive sounds in the background) before the FVE drops into a super-slow melody for Ms. Victor to sing sweetly about love and the issues one faces in relationships. The latter tells the story of a day in Weimar, Germany, and the lyrics relate the dichotomy of the modern city and the insanity that enveloped the townspeople during the Hitler years. That craziness enters the singer's words as she sings/speaks out "Come and get me"/Another fear lay out that there" and that phrase returns again and again as the narrator moves through the city. "Brutal air is all that is needed here/Clear" makes the song turn darker (as the music becomes more frenetic. There seems to be no clear resolution (can there be?) but the singer continues to "..walk through the town square/enjoy the warm sky down there" and seems to come to terms with her visit.
Filiano's wonderfully active unaccompanied bass leads us into "Gunk", a joyous description of cleaning out the "garbage" we cart around in our psyches. Nilsson's hard-scrabble guitar work and rapid-fire rhythm lines move easily around Filiano's vigorous bass lines. The soaring vocal lines, the growling phrases, the bluesy scatting, all contribute to the joy that inhabits this track.
A reminder - Ms. Victor joins Stephen Haynes (trumpets) and Joe Morris (guitar, bass) this coming Saturday November 16 at 7 p.m. as part of the monthly "Improvisations" series at Real Art Ways, 56 Arbor Street in Hartford. A splendid time is in the offing for all! For more information, go to www.realartways.org or call 860-232-1006.