The Wallace Roney Quintet takes the stage at 8:30 p.m. For more information and a look at The Side Door's impressive upcoming schedule, go to thesidedoorjazz.com. You can also call them at 860-434-0886.
Since I began teaching in 2010, the last 4 months (or the Fall semester) has become a blur of classes, papers, presentations and grading. While I still write, the time I usually spend reviewing has dried up. I still listen to plenty of music and, over the next several weeks of posting, I will catch up on recordings that have captured my attention and deserve yours.
The arrangements throughout the program stand out for their start use of timbre, harmonies, and how the section blend their voices. "Yes We Can - Victory Dance", a piece Eubanks wrote after the election of Barack Obama, is so infectious. Latin rhythms set the pace, the celebratory melody weaves in and out of the sections while Smith and Silliman keep the piece bouncing forward. That "bounce" also enlivens "A Seeking Spirit", pushed forward by the montuno Zaleski plays and the conversational melody lines. Zaleski also stands out on the handsome, medium tempo, ballad "Full Circle", with a pretty solo that unwinds over the strong play of Kozlov (acoustic) and Smith. The band then kicks the piece into overdrive for the blazing tenor solo from Strickland. Soloff has his moment on the final track, the sprightly "Cross Currents", and he responds with his customary clarity and fire. Ms. Sevian follows and delivers a sweet baritone sax solo before Smith creates quite a powerful solo over a very smart arrangement.
After a number of listens, one can hear how the music Robin Eubanks has created for his Mass Line Big Band is more akin to the work of Arturo O'Farrill than to Maria Schneider. Rhythms are so important to this music; one not only hears that in the brilliant work of Nate Smith but in the lines Eubanks campuses for his sections. "More Than Meets The Ear" is truly exciting music.
For more information, go to robineubanks.com.
Here's a bit of video about the project:
The other special guest is Joshua Redman, who plays tenor and soprano saxes on the title track. The longest cut on the recording (at 10:26), the swirling melody lines open up to strong solos from Jodrell (flugelhorn) and Redman (with a tenor spot that, at its onset, reminds this listener of Wayne Shorter's take on Steely Dan's "Aja"). After the solo section, the ensemble returns then drops out to leave Redman and pianist Harris to have quite the conversation. The rest of the musicians return in full force as Redman soar above them (note the brilliant work of Goldbas as he pushes the music forward).
The 2 tracks, "Introduction" and "Fugue", with the leader on piano stand out as the reeds, brass and bass sit out. Goldbas support the strings as they dance through the melody lines and Ms. Hazama propels the music forward. There are numerous striking moments, such as the impressive drum openings and when the strings literally fling the melody line one-by-one near the close of "Fugue".
I did not hear Ms. Hazama's debut CD so "Time River" serves as my introduction to this young composer and arranger. If the first recording, which features many of the same musicians, is even close to the quality of the new one, Miho Hazama should have a wonderful career. This music is involving from beginning to end with musicians that give their all to this fine music.
For more information, go to www.jamrice.co.jp/miho/en/.
Here's a short preview of the recording: