Jessica Jones & Mark Taylor Live At The Freight
The french horn as a jazz instrument? Remember that jazz is essentially improvised music with the western label jazz attached to make it identifiable if not more easily marketed by record labels. The french horn while not uncommon in jazz orchestra is a bit unusual in a quartet setting but the tonality brought forth allows for a more earthy quality to the presentation and certainly a more entertaining blend of sound that one would normally expect.Combine the expert horn playing of Mark Taylor with the Wayne Shorter inspired tenor of Jessica Jones and the blend is a unique sound coupled with a stellar rhythm section of bassist John Shifflett and drummer Jason Lewis and the resulting live release should be one you find yourself coming back to again and again. Eclectic but lacking the self indulgent artsy side that would be a career killer for similar ensembles, Live At The Freight is a landmark recording for live jazz here in the United States.
While the sound is harmonically adventurous, Jones and Taylor don't necessarily reinvent the musical wheel here they simply amp up the air pressure slightly with their unique horn lineup. "Furious George" is a perfect introduction with a blues infused swing despite the more mysterious minor key predominance the tune works well and is an odd flashback for some to some earlier chordless quartet concepts going back to the 1950's with such incredible acts as Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker. Jessica Jones shines on "Waynopolis" which is a more than fitting tribute to the great Wayne Shorter. The harmonic tightrope is walked successfully without a net and this may be what makes this 4tet so engaging. Musical mystery. A nice spatial concept and one of two tune where Taylor switches to flugelhorn and with great effect. "Manhattan" leans toward the more organic Ornette Coleman sound again with Taylor opting out for flugelhorn.
Normally a 4tet that hangs out in odd meter and starts conducting some incredibly intriguing harmonic exploratory is enough to have me hitting the skip button quick but not here. There is that amazing zen like quality of less is more and a striking beauty to the presentation from beginning to end. An enthralling recording that is a must for the more old school aficionado or those theory geeks that may spend as much time dissecting a tune as they do listening to it.
A true sleeper for 2012 and an easy 5 star rating!
Sometime with triumph there is tragedy. This may be one of Taylor's last sessions as a horn player. Shortly after the West Coast tour that preceded this concert, he was diagnosed with focal dystonia, a neurological condition that may make playing the horn impossible.
www.criticaljazz.com asks you remember Mark Taylor in your thoughts and prayers and our sincere wishes for a speedy and full recovery!
Tracks: Furious George; Waiting for the Vampire's Redemption; By The Park at Midnight; The Zamindar Gambit; Waynopolis; Manhattan; Sketch #2; What Purpose if Your Pain; Breath Eyes.
Personnel: Jessica Jones: tenor saxophone; Mark Taylor: french horn, mellphpne; John Shifflet: bass; Jason Lewis: drums.