Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Natalie Cressman Unfolding 2012

My pet peeve list is a short one when it comes to jazz but at the very top may be the archaic notion of paying some sort of arbitrary dues based on your age...

The great bassist Rufus Reid once told me that while an advanced degree and continued study are vitally important in all walks of life, when it comes to music the best experience is found on stage. In short, those who can play and those that gave up - write about it. Natalie Cressman can play! At 20 years of age Cressman is set to drop Unfolding on August 10, 2012.

Having shared the stage with such luminaries as Nicholas Payton, Wycliffe Gordon and touring with Phish's Trey Anastasio, Cressman is more than just a pretty face. Natalie Cressman's weapon of choice is the trombone and she was introduced to jazz and Brazilian music at an early age, Unfolding is a musical transformation of an artist that transcends the more traditional boundaries and bodes well for the future of modern jazz. A legit triple threat as she is an expressive instrumentalist, well grounded producer and a spot on vocalist so we find an artist whose only limitation may be having to multi-task as her talents are varied and well executed in all phases of this recording.

Opening with "Flip" which is a riff on a Lee Morgan type vibe but with a bossa nova twist and moving into a stunning melodic climax with pristine vocals. Melodic texture abounds as meters shift on the fly making "Flip" not only the perfect opener but one of the more inventive numbers on the release. "Honeysuckle Rose" is the Fats Waller standard that has been done to death and don't get me wrong, I love the tune but normally leave a release incredibly disappointed that no one can do much more than just a straight cover. Old news. Natalie Cressman does a odd metered syncopated r&b contemporary take that is pure flavor. Cressman always blows a tight solo but manages to put a delightful contemporary spin and her own indelible mark on a standard without disrespecting the original or herself. A Cressman original "Reaching For Home" is a more angular melody with dynamic intervals that pop but are deceptively subtle in their execution. Chad Lefkowitz-Brown rips off a jaw dropping tenor solo and seals the deal on this delightful original.

This multi-faceted instrumentalist is the real deal. The future of modern jazz is in good hands. The band here is first call all the way. Pascal Le Boeuf turns in stellar piano work while Ruben Samama lays down a solid foundation of rhythm and groove on acoustic bass and the finesse of drummer Jake Goldbas own the pocket. Ivan Rosenberg may have been the perfect trumpet player for these sessions as he plays with Cressman and not around her for a nice tight synergy that is infectious for a horn player to hear. Peter Apfelbaum and his tenor sax make a spot on cameo on the closer which is another original from Cressman, "That Kind." Cressman is a cultural by product of her own experience taking bits and pieces from straight ahead, contemporary, r&b and even Brazilian and sharing her musical D.N.A in a far reaching application in an attempt to reach an even larger audience. Form and functionality of the traditional meet organic creativity in overdrive. Dig it. It works!

An incredibly impressive debut release from an amazing young artist whose musical stock should now be an arrow pointing straight up.

5 Huge Stars!

Tracks: Flip; Whistle Song; Honeysuckle Rose; Echo; Skylight; Goodbye Pork Pie Hat; Waking; Reaching For Home; That Kind.

You will find this release on my Best of 2012 list.