Saturday, November 19, 2011

HurdAudio Rotation: Stompin' at the Savoy

KLANG: Other Doors. 2011. Allos Documents: 006.

James Falzone: clarinet
Jason Adasiewicz: vibraphone
Tim Daisy: drums
Josh Berman: cornet
with guests-
Jeb Bishop: trombone
Keefe Jackson: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello, electronics

The connection between KLANG and the music of Benny Goodman is both direct and sophisticated. This is no slavish recreation of the music of Benny Goodman, even if there are a few Goodman tunes represented (their take on "Stompin' at the Savoy" is a knockout). The clarinet is well represented here, but the sound is clearly Falzone's. Which makes this an excellent showcase of his well developed voice on the instrument.
The Falzone originals draw their inspiration from the music of Goodman with a contemporary take on their source. Each piece clocking in at around five minutes or less, this ensemble operates squarely within the form and durations of the Goodman era. And this music swings in all the best possible ways. The real attraction to this recording is the ensemble sound of these great musicians. The sequence of clarinet solo melting into a quartet sound followed by mixing in the guest performers before returning to solo clarinet makes for a recording that won't be wearing out its welcome anytime soon. Their interpretation of "Memories of You" with Fred Lonberg-Holm is beautiful and addictive. Highly recommended.

Brad Jones: acoustic bass, electric bass, lead vocals, backing vocals
Abe Fogle: drums, percussion, backing vocals
Jeff Lawrence: keyboards, backing vocals
Bob Debellis: alto saxophone, flute
DK Dyson: lead vocals, backing vocals
Beans: lead vocals
Curtis Fowlkes: trombone

There's no questioning the bona fides of Brad Jones as one of the great bass players on the New York scene. His track record working with the likes of Dave Douglas or the Jazz Passengers speaks for itself. And this band is packed with the kind of aggressive, smokin' musicians one can only find in New York City. While this disc does have moments of greatness, it also has several spots that haven't aged well. Tracks like "3 Guesses" are great. The bass solo on "Pocket Prayer 1 (Birth)" that opens this disc is a high point. But then there is the mixed bag of the vocal pieces that veer into an uncomfortable territory between smooth jazz and rap. And there are some cringe-worthy sections that sound like a late night talk show host may step in and cut them off to deliver a mid-week monologue. This one is a disc that overflows with musicianship that hits a range of musical styles. Some of them timeless, some of them dated.

Lina Allemano: trumpet
Brodie West: alto saxophone
Andrew Downing: double bass

The comparisons between Lina Allemano and Don Cherry are inevitable. Both share the same instrument and the Alemano Four play in the same free jazz tradition that Don Cherry blazed with the Ornette Coleman Quartet. While that comparison is largely positive - born out of a love for the music Don Cherry gave us all - Lina Allemano is her own musician and on Jargon she is following her own, compelling muse. Her partners in crime on this recording are tuned into that same muse as they bring a near-harmolodic precision to the waxing and waning of complementary lines. The result is stunning in an unassuming way. Jargon builds nicely on a tradition that understandably continues to inspire.

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