In the midst of temperature reaching well above 100 degrees here in Louisville for over a week, Wintertime Tunes of Drew Paralic is a welcome addition to most any collection for jazz and it numerous and related sub genres. Paralic's fourth independent release of original compositions is certainly a reason to take notice and pay serious attention to his music. While the title may give one the impression of a Christmas release to the mix and that would indeed be judging a release before the deceptively subtle winter mix of cool beat nik chich grab holds, I would certainly give this release my undivided attention. A nice mix of the N.P.R. meets beat nik chic in an accessible yet organic variety that permeates a release that works well for small jazz ensemble.
Drew Paralic is composer and arranger on this eclectic arrangement of a prelude to for what will be for some parts of the country, a well come change from a brutal summer. Paralic goes the extra mile in attempting to arrange for a smaller jazz ensemble which packs the sonic punch of a large ensemble simply going the extra mile and with great success. Paralic's musical D.N.A. comes largely from the standards and blues categories from which his jazz approach is launched and well founded. Paralic plays or as I prefer to say, paints from a harmonic color pallet deep and rich in vivid sonic colors. The heroes of Paralic include Paralic include Bill Evans include Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk and his work of placing his own indelible mark on their style without disrespecting the originals is a stroke of pure musical genius.
There are those that say Drew Paralic has started his artistic quest too late in life, that same has in and most cases is applied to my work as a critic. Certain skill sets involved know no real time frame. Honest, sincerity and a desire to create the best possible product triumph an arbitrary age and the self limitations that come along with the age at all most every turn. I have reviewed artists that are "newbies" from 16 to 65 with something positive to be said in regards to each artist and their contribution to the product in hand.
A release with texture, variety and a slightly more open ended effect necessary to keep a listener engaged to the point that when the disc ends, you can not believe this time and flown past in such a rapid rate. From instrumental performance combined with the other skill sets of producing and arranging then you have one of the legitimate handfuls of Jazz triple threats working today. Laura Kenyon does an admirable job on vocals. The open ended approach is without question a refreshing mix of the old and the new. Making old school turn into a new cool is a welcome breath of fresh air in the button down world of the more contemporary fashion most artists cling to in an effort to pay the bills.
A very entertaining release that succeeds on numerous levels while avoiding the self indulgent pitfalls that the lesser artists seem to find and sadly fall into with ease. "My Wintertime Sky" is certainly a more Christmas oriented tune and a solid composition. "Down In Soho" is a blues infused tune that highlights the virtuoso playing and chameleon like ability that Paralic seems to be able to navigate with ease.
Refreshing, original, organic...Perhaps the three most important elements in elevating a good release from the level of average medicority to superior artistic skills. A disc you will probably find yourself coming back to again and again.
Tracks: My Wintertime Sky; Down In Soho; Wet Snow; Steps; Finally 2001; How Bill's Heart Sings.
Personnel: Elias Bailey: upright bass; Laura Kenyon; vocal; Mike McGinnis: tenor sax & clarinet; James Newman: piano; Bennett Paster: piano; David Pearl: piano; Vinnie Sperrazza: drums.