Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Uli Geissendoerfer Colors Black Coffee Music 2012

Nothing beats great cover art, with the exception of what you find inside this release. Uli Geissendoerfer is a musical visionary. A varied but impressive music resume that runs the table from working with Blood Sweat and Tears to critically acclaimed film scoring. Colors brings Geissendoerfer's talents and vision to fruition in a rich and bold hybrid of World Music, jazz and incredible improvisation direction. Normally when an artist attempts to fuse such a variety of interests/experience the end result is more often than not a musical train wreck at the worst or a slightly forgettable hodge podge at best. There is absolutely no creative drop off to be found on this release.

Uli Geissendoerfer is the cultural by product of his own experience and he nails this cold with Colors!
Colors was founded in 2011 as a fusion of two earlier Las Vegas projects Red, A Latin jazz sextet and Blue, a World Music quartet to octet.
Opening with "3-41" which is delightful tip of his musical hat to Tanya Maria and Sergio Mendez, Geissendoerfer goes past colors and begins concentrating on the flavor and texture that begins to set the stage for this incredibly impressive outing. One of the most unique aspects to Colors would have to be the lyrical play between vocalist Pascale Elia and saxophonist Charles McNeal. While the more world oriented presentation exists between Elia and McNeal, this remaining members of this quintet are deceptively subtle in swing and harmonic develop and they gradually bring in the more traditional forms of western improvised music. "Honey Pie" was a tune brought to this most eclectic ensemble with the end result of Geissendoerfer stepping on the gas for blistering and organic swing most straight ahead bands struggle to hit today. Elia's vocals are spot on and McNeal plays with a classic old school lyrical sense of purpose that adds just another color to this sonic mosaic. Geissendoerfer is a formidable pianist to go along with his talents as a composer and helps drive a killer rhythm section. Derek Jones handles the bass work and in an impeccably strong lyrical player while the finesse and innate ability to swing exudes from drummer Ryan Rose with relative ease. "Soulful" is a Geissendoerfer original that is aptly titled once again adding another harmonic color to the mix. Geissendoerfer take you to the land of rhythm and groove and a trip well worth taking. One of the finest tracks on the release once again showing the virtuoso talent that flows from Geissendoerfer with relative ease. Lennon-McCartney covers showing up on any jazz oriented release normally are a sonic trip wire but "Norwegian Wood" is pulled off with a daring reharmonization with a slightly more up tempo vocal from Elia and a slightly more funk infused arrangement with Geissendoerfer opening up on rhodes before moving to piano. Geissendoerfer has seemingly developed his own hybrid of what I will call world jazz combined with an intriguing cinematic concept with jazz sensibilities and fuses these influences with amazing cohesion. The quintet as well as the special guests help pull from this rich sonic color pallet and are key in transforming what may have otherwise been a good release into a very special if not great release.

A former editor often cautioned me about getting too excited over a release. I wonder if artists like Geissendoerfer become passionate when working on a new project? Music in general and jazz in particular are steeped in passion not arbitrary and archaic stylistic guidelines that would impose absurd self limitations on the artist. Virtually flawless and groundbreaking in many respects. A perfect reason why I get excited about a review and why the word "former" appears before word "editor."

Tracks: Intro; 3-41; Honey Pie; Tango; Intro To Soulful; Soulful; Lily; Norwegian Wood; Song (For Maya); Turkish; Where.

Personnel: Uli Geissendoerfer: piano, rhodes, synth, percussion; Pascale Elia: vocals; Charles McNeal: saxophones; Derek Jones: basses; Ryan Rose: drums and percussion.

Special Guests: Valeri Glava: violin on Turkish; Michito Sanchez: percussion on 3-41 and Soulful; Dafer Tawil; oud, doumbek, tambourine on Turkish.