An intimate look at the artistic makeup of one of the better composers in improvisational music.
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
A great many people know Brian Swartz as an A list trumpet player, few make mention of his compositional excellence. This changes now...Portraiture is a somewhat autobiographical work, a conceptual recording that attempts to lay a musical soundtrack down celebrating those that have made a tremendous impact on his life and musical times. The band is first rate, operating as a true collective and aural transmitter of lyrical thoughts and emotions. The synergy captured is rare.
The soulful sound is but a microcosm of harmonic thought as it move from the hopeful "I'll C U In Spring" which embraces the optimism of his mothers pending visits to the hard visceral punch to the hard swing yet delicately nuanced texture of "Harsh Rain." The gem of the release may be the opener "Pastorian Fantasie" which pays homage to the late Jaco Pastorious and that special sound that has found a home in a great many musical souls.
Adventurous, forward thinking yet firmly grounded we have Brian Swartz and The Gnu Sextet establishing their rightful place as one of the finer large ensembles working today.
Tracks: Pastorian Fantasie; I'll C U In Spring; Down With Downs; Elevation; David; Harsh Rain; Jens' Duct Taped Pants; Smile 4 Me.
Personnel: Brian Swartz: Trumpet, Flugelhorn; Matt Otto: Tenor Sax (1,5-8); Robby Marshall: Tenor Sax (2-4); Martin Sullivan: Trombone; Andy Langham: Piano; J.P. Maramba: Bass; Jens Kuros: Drums.