Having taken the summer off from facebook for a plethora of reasons, I came back to a message from German born Iris Ornig inquiring as to how she could submit her sophomore release No Restrictions for review. Apparently Posi-Tone saxophonist Brandon Wright told her about my site and my eagerness to take a look at some of the stellar independent artists that make up the jazz mecca that is the Big Apple.
"One of 10 Future Female Jazz Stars..." - jazz.com
Allow me to take quick issue with my contemporaries. The "future" is now with the sophomore release from Ornig working on virtually every conceivable level one could imagine. Since arriving in New York her credibility as an "A" list talent has never been an issue having worked with such luminaries as Gretchen Parlato, Ambrose Akinmusire, and Dan Tepfer. No Restrictions will street on September 19th 2012 with an all star lineup including Kurt Rosenwinkel, Helen Sung, Mike Rodriguez and Marcus Gilmore. The tunes here capture an organic honesty of raw spontaneous energy combined with a working band style of lyrical cohesion and chops to push the harmonic envelope as needed. In short, I dig it...
Eight of the ten tracks on No Restrictions are originals including the opening tune "Autumn Kiss." Michael Rodriguez on trumpet and the wonderful Helen Sung open this beautiful tune anchored by Ornig and the finesse of drummer Marcus Gilmore. A lyrical sense of purpose with each member taking the others previously laid down thoughts and expanding the tune with a nice syncopated pop of vitality. Somewhere between the more traditional straight ahead and the contemporary modern jazz approach, Ornig finds a musical happy place with another original "We Shall Meet Beyond The River." Ornig has a distinctive and highly lyrical approach but as any good leader she allows the tunes to take center stage without an ounce of self indulgence on her part which can kill an otherwise solid effort from some artists. "We Shall Meet Beyond The River" is all most cinematic in scope, a exquisite tune in search of a fine feature film. Kurt Rosenwinkel's performance adds a nice layer of texture and perfect counterpoint to the rock steady Ornig. Pop covers on more traditional jazz releases make me cringe and Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" has popped up on two other releases I have looked at over the last two years and to be blunt the covers failed miserably. This formidable quintet and especially Ornig reharmonize this to an infectious swing that borders on the addictive. Michael Rodriguez blows it out on trumpet while Ornig's walking bass line is one you hear with your feet. The translation works on this tune far better than I could have imagined and the slight reharm is pure flavor. The bass solo by Ornig is off the hook bordering on jaw dropping. A lyrical swing as sharp as any upright bass player I have heard in years. Sharp, distinctive and a driving sense of purpose, Ornig plays with the innate swing of contemporaries twenty years her senior. "Gate 29" is another Ornig original and loaded with a contemporary flavor that is reminiscent of a more acoustic take on perhaps Radiohead. Iris Ornig has arrived and is staking her rightful claim as a viable force in the world of modern jazz right now.
An interesting bit of musical irony is that I sent a suggestion to a former friend of mine that plays bass and writes for a publication on an American bassist. My former friend residing in Germany in turn sent a nasty gram informing me using some one's name in this fashion is breaking an unwritten jazz code. Networking in a global economy can be the key to success for some artists and had it not been for Brandon Wright turning me on to one of the brightest stars to hit the jazz scene in the last five years I may have continued to be blissfully ignorant of the mad skills and prolific talent of Iris Ornig...So much for that unwritten jazz code I never got the memo on.
A legitimate jazz triple threat when considering she is as artistically gifted and technically proficient on upright bass as anyone you would hear, a brilliant composer and her strengths as a producer more than speak for them self with No Restrictions!
Iris Ornig is the real deal and No Restrictions easily hits my best of 2012 list.
Tracks: Autumn Kiss; We Shall Meet Beyond The River; Venus As A Boy; No Restrictions; If Anything Goes Wrong; The Way You Make Me Feel; Gate 29; Spark Of Light; No Restrictions Version II; Uptight.
Personnel: Michael Rodriguez: trumpet; Kurt Rosenwinkel: guitar; Helen Sung: piano; Iris Ornig: bass; Marcus Gilmore: drums.
For more information go to www.irisornigmusic.com
Cover art not available when this piece went to press but will be uploaded as soon as it is available. Photographs creatively acquired via facebook.
Via You Tube
Via You Tube