Courage Music chronicles the triple threat Ellen Rowe as she comes into her own as pianist, composer and arranger with a magnificently balanced release of diverse harmonic exploration.
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Ellen Rowe is held in high regard having performed with John Clayton and Tom Harrell among others. Her fourth release, Courage Music includes the magnificent trumpet and flugelhorn artist Ingrid Jensen. A mixed bag of compositions shows off the expert skills of Rowe as composer and arranger and perhaps are the key clue as to why she hold the prestigious position as Professor and Chair of The Department of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation at the University of Michigan.
A slight departure from previous work finds Rowe exploring the possibilities of extended compositions with solid form yet deceptively subtle shadings that enhance the synergy of this most dynamic ensemble. Standards are far from predictable with an wildly creative arrangement of "All of You" breathes new life into this Cole Porter classic. Ingrid Jensen shows off her skills with "Leaves" which is her delightful riff on the favorite "Autumn Leaves." One of the keys to the success of Courage Music is the genuine sense of a collective spirit, a harmonious union of lyrical flow. Rowe's "Circle of Life" is a buoyant piece and works well within a unique ebb and flow not often found or even embraced by artists in similar settings. The heartfelt ballad "Gentle Spirit" with guest trombonist Paul Ferguson is another highpoint in this incredibly balanced improvisational summit. Saxophonist and clarinetist Andrew Bishop, bassist Kurt Krahnke and drummer Pete Siers all add unique individual voices that work well within the melodic framework of each tune.
A stellar release from the Ellen Rowe Quintet!
1. Circle of Life 7:28
2. Leaves 7:21
3. If Time Stood Still 6:11
4. Golindrinas de los Horcones 7:08
5. Summit Dog 6:09
6. All of You 6:15
7. ...And Miles To Go (Part 1) 1:36
8. ...And Miles To Go (Part 2) 6:24
University of Michigan Chamber Jazz Ensemble
Alekos Syropoulos, alto saxophone;
Yuma Uesaka, tenor saxophone9. Calico Roses 7:49
10. Gentle Spirit 8:17
Paul Ferguson, trombone