Steve Barta lands squarely on the Jazz radar with this acclaimed collaboration with Herbie Mann.
I met Steve Barta this past Holiday Season. He was demonstrating his most recent self- produced release The Twelve Days of Christmas (previously reviewed in these pages). Barta was joined by the esteemed flautist, Herbie Mann on a very Bossa "Christmas Song" on that outing. At the time, he told me there was much more of the same to be found on this release, Blue River. Indeed, there was. Blue River is the best Latin-influenced jazz recording I heard in 2000.
Comprised of ten Barta originals, Blue River exists in shades of Bossa Nova. Never does it become a rehash or poor imitation of Jobim. Barta is a careful technician, his care being most manifested in his intricate lace of composition. His songs are well crafted and have the soft texture of silk warmed by a wood fire. The total of this disc is the concept of inspiration and how different inspirations reveal themselves through composition and performance. Barta's performance, as well as that of Mann, is precise and understated, even during the more technical pieces. There is no excess here, only the correct notes are played.
Taken in total, Blue River is a light Bossa tone poem, a perfect mood piece providing just enough spice to be intriguing and enough softness to sooth.
Track Listing: Wish Upon A Canvas; Blue River; In Another Life; Like An Old Piano;
Rossport; Carinho; The High Road; Asleep In The Sweet Light; Umtradah;
On The Edge; Blue River. (Total Time: 48:55)
Personnel: Steve Barta: Keyboards; Herbie Mann: Flute, Alto Flute, Bass Flute;
Michael Shapiro: Drums , Percussion; Ricky Sebastian: Drums; Ricardo
Silveira: Guitar; Bruce Dunlap: Guitar; Paul Socolaw: Bass; Jerry Watts:
I love jazz because I was born and raised here in America, and it is one of the most significant cultural contributions we have given to the world. It is an incredibly sophisticated artform that continues to challenge boundaries while delighting and engaging listeners of all different ages and backgrounds
I love jazz because I was born and raised here in America, and it is one of the most significant cultural contributions we have given to the world. It is an incredibly sophisticated artform that continues to challenge boundaries while delighting and engaging listeners of all different ages and backgrounds. I love how jazz can involve musicians who may have never met each other can coming together and making incredible music by referring to the Great American Songbook and musicians who have been playing together for years, who have a deep connection and who explore and create original music that is at the cutting edge of musical innovation in every sense. Performing jazz music requires a virtuosity and technique that only strict discipline can teach as well as a spontaneity and playfulness that reflects the simple folk roots of the music.
I was first exposed to jazz as a student in college. Only knowing I wanted to play guitar, I enrolled in an applied music program that focused on Jazz rhythm section playing. The subsequent journey that I have been on since the time that I enrolled in that class has helped me grow not only as a musician but more so as a person.