Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sketches Volume One Baldhill Records 2013

A musical chain letter between ensemble members where egos are checked at the door and the only limitations are how far their imagination will take them. A truly unique and gifted quintet.
Brent Black /

True collaborative efforts in modern jazz are rare. The more traditional working band sound associated with music from the days of Blue Note, Verve, and Impulse are long since gone. In the day of the digital download we have improvisational stars backed by a variety of after thoughts in an effort to shine a direct laser beam of focus onto the player with perhaps the best ability to draw a following. Sketches goes back to basics but with a distinctive ethereal twist. A most distinctive spatial grandeur gives way to a dynamic tension of harmonic thought. An open ended approach at times bordering the often misunderstood conceptual nature of free jazz but never so far off the beaten path as to potentially strip the sonic gears of the passive listener.

A true collective that builds upon the musical sketches of the each other. A forward movement of synergy and counterpoint. Texture, tone, and timbre give way to a three dimensional sonic depth of field. Melodic water colors of a cerebral nature where the imagination completes the lyrical story laid out by these most versatile of artists. Here the idiosyncrasies of the individual are embraced. Trumpet player Matt Holman likes to work a tune from someone else's head thus keeping the vibe fresh and the development organic and raw. Bassist Martin Nevin's "Dusk On The Porch" is a riff off an original sketch from drummer Ziv Ravitz which morphed into an unexpected blues, just one of the stellar compositions. Jarrett Cherner's Middle Eastern vamp on "Running With The Princess" is banged out with McCoy Tyner like precision. Alto saxophonist Jeremy Udden is one of the fastest rising stars in modern jazz today with his composition "Dark" as another tune of note. Textured flavor, odd meter, and minor tonalities all pulled off with shifting dynamics and with impressive effect and not simply to make a point. This working band is special, mad skills with unlimited potential. In a brief chat with pianist Cherner, I was assured this is a regular working band and this was some of the best news I have had in some time. Each of the members could be a legitimate leader in his own right, together they become unique.  

Flowery descriptive praise aside, the virtuoso players are stupid good. Sketches Volume One is proof positive a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. There are no weak links here and thus another release for my year end best of list!

Tracks: Trust; Dark; Cornerstone; Dusk On The Porch; Shadow Search; Knew; Chain Letter CCC#1; Running With The Princess.

Personnel: Matt Holman: Trumpet / Flugelhorn, Compositions; Jeremy Udden: Alto Saxophone, Compositions; Jarrett Cherner: Piano, Compositions; Martin Nevin: Bass, Compositions; Ziv Ravitz: Drums, Compositions.

Tour Dates: 11/6 An Die Musik / Baltimore MD; 11/7 Cornelia St. Cafe / NYC; 01/10 Lily Pad / Cambridge MA; 01/16 Twins Jazz / Washington DC