Thursday, May 29, 2014
Brooklyn Jazz Underground on Top
What has always impressed about Garcia's music is how equally important melody and rhythm are (not one above the other.) There's nothing radically changed on this date but, if anything, the ensemble is tighter. Garcia pushes his soloists on the up-tempo pieces; the title cut drives with such intensity especially during the very tenor solo. Preminger has often accentuated his "softer" side but here he delivers quite a forceful solo. Tepfer takes a more impressionistic approach which allows the leader's sparkling cymbal work to stand out. Dig how the 4-some transforms Max Roach's hard-edged "It's Time" into a medium-tempo ballad, imbuing the piece with more of a blues feel. Garcia's short drum solo is notable for his melodic sensibility and staying "in the mood." As a composer, Garcia writes to the strengths of his band. Preminger's tenor on "Purple Blush" explores the melody in the style of Archie Shepp, short shards of melody in sync with the rhythm section. Meanwhile, Tepfer is both melodic and abstract, downright bluesy too. The playful rhythms of "The Caterpillar Vs. The Butterfly" gives the quartet plenty of room to maneuver in and around the propulsive bass lines (Martin "runs" not "walks") and the skitter, jittery, drums. The pianist channels Bud Powell as he slides around the bass and drums. Garcia's splendid brush work sets the proper mood on "The Garden's Poet", a short tune that shows that everyone in the group can play melodies in support of each others.
The disk comes to a close on 2 fascinating tracks. Speaking of melody, Garcia gives himself the spotlight, going it alone on "The Painter", delivering a drum solo that both swings and sings. Then, Martin's full-tone bass lines lead the band in on a first-rate reading of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing." No one holds back, each member of the group digs deep into the modern blues that the composer created nearly 5 decades ago and, although the piece is fairly quiet, there is an intensity of emotion that is palpable throughout.
The Rob Garcia 4 uses an impressive musical palette to create "The Passion of Color." The trust that the members of the group have with each other and the material provides the listener with an aural experience that satisfies on many levels, continuing to do so on subsequent listens. And, as good as the recording is, the RG4 are a great band to see in person. For more information, go to www.robgarcia.com. CT residents, be aware - the Rob Garcia 4 plays The Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme on Thursday July 10. Go to thesidedoorjazz.com for ticket information.
Chin supplies 3 original pieces including the sweetly melodic title track that, at times, has the sound and feel of a Bruce Hornsby composition. Chiming piano chords introduce "If For No One", a tune that blends a Brazilian feel with a classically inspired melody. After the introduction and theme, Chin's solo rises out of the lower end of the keyboard, building in intensity before the pianist steps aside for the bass solo. "Seemingly" is a imposing ballad and a piece where Le Fleming's strong feel for melody meshes well with that of the pianist.
Again, it's no secret that there are, seemingly, thousands of piano trio recordings released each year. Don't miss hearing "Undercover", especially for the intense group interactions and the impressive choice of material. John Chin may have waited 4 years to release this CD; his patience and belief in his musical vision makes this project stand out. For more information, go to www.johnchin.com. Give the music a listen by clicking on the Bandcamp link below.
Perhaps, the most impressive piece is the handsome ballad "Margolinda" that opens with an impressionistic unaccompanied piano solo that leads to the finely constructed saxophone melody. Marantz takes a solo that moves away from that melody line while Gagliardi sticks fairly closely to the chord structure. The strength of the piece lies both in the strong melody but also in the propulsive work of Ferber and Cuadrado (the guitarist sits out for this performance).
"Nomadic Nature" speaks to the fact that young Gianni Gagliardi has already traveled far and wide. He's well on his way to discovering his "sound", aided greatly on this project by an excellent ensemble. As he continues to mature, one hopes he does not lose that inquisitive side of his song creation and lyrical nature to his saxophone playing. For more information, go to giannigagliardi.com.