Monday, March 10, 2014

Lena Bloch Feathery TNR 2014

Featured recording “Feathery”

Cool...served straight up! One of the most unique tenor voices and composers to come around in years!
Brent Black /

The rudimentary sound may be somewhat familiar yet the execution and harmonic invention is all Lena Bloch. The influences of the Tristiano / Konitz school of lyrical thought are undeniable but what makes Feathery work would be the individual melodic spirit that has Lena Bloch laying down her own most recognizable voice from the beginning. Some tenor players grow into their sound over time, Bloch transcends time with her own imaginative style. The remainder of this formidable 4tet provide counterpoint and an open ended swing that fits hand in glove with Bloch's approach.

Feathery is a debut release that is perhaps more of a deceptively subtle improvisational collective. This group has one foot in old school cool yet with a forward thinking approach on how to push the music forward. The all star lineup includes Dave Miller on guitar, Cameron Brown on bass, and Billy Mintz on drums with each contributing a tune to this delightfully eclectic recording. Another plus that pushes Feathery over the top would be the virtual live studio recording, almost all tunes were first takes. As an instrumentalist Bloch can hold her own with anyone yet her work as a composer begins to immediately elevate her from a somewhat predictable pack. The re-harm of "Star Eyes" as "Starry-Eyed" is genius while the opener "Hi-Lee" is a deconstructed conversation of lyrical spontaneity.

Good tenor players are a dime a dozen...special tenor players are worth their weight in gold. Lena Bloch exhibits full command of her instrument and toss in her compositional excellence and we have a welcome addition to what has stereotypically been the "old boys club."

Tracks: Hi-lee; Rubato; Baby Suite; Starry-Eyed; Marshmellow; Farewell To Arms; Featherbed; Beautiful You; Hi-Lee (Reprise).
Personnel: Lena Bloch: Tenor Saxophone; Dave Miller: Guitar; Cameron Brown: Bass; Billy Mintz: Drums.