How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
In what might be the most perfectly titled CD of recent memory, Connections is a fine effort by talented trumpeter/ composer Jon Crowley and his exciting group. While Crowley might not be a household name just yet, this release announces, anoints and validates him as a fine jazz performer, writer and leader.
What Crowley writes and plays connects solidly throughout with ten selections that seem to resonate with each other somewhat texturally, if not intellectually. There's a sort of Moebius-like feel that connects each tune; however, each is highly original and stands on its own. Vaguely reminiscent of the classic tunes from the small group jazz canon, Connections reflects the past yet peeks into Crowley's own talented future.
Backed here by a set of great musicians, it is obvious that this group is a tight unit. Outstanding alto saxophonist John Beaty seems to be the perfect musical foil for Crowley's solo efforts with an intelligent and surprisingly inventive style with great energy on "Right Now." The rhythm section of bassist Peter Schwebs and drummer Nick Anderson, along with keyboardist Yayoi Ikawa, are marvelous as they provide the perfect platform for the frontline. Their harmonic and rhythmic subtleties shine with repeated listens.
The compositions range from the rhythmically complex ("Connections," "Tabula Rasa," and "Vista") to haunting, beautifully balladry ("Momentum," "Ambrosia," and "Icarus") and white-hot straight-ahead ("Right Now").
As a trumpeter, Crowley exhibits maturity and a marvelously warm sound. His approach to the instrument is solid, controlled, and highly lyrical. While there are the usualand easily recognizable"suspects" lurking within (shades of Tom Harrell
), Crowley piques interest with a creative approach. This is one smart trumpeter and composer: he knows where his roots are and how to develop a unique style nourished and energized by and connected to those roots.
Connections is an enjoyable effort by a terrific young talent and his crew. It indeed connects on many levels all of them superbly.
Track Listing: Connections; Momentum; Bass Intro; Tabula Rasa; Vista; Ambrosia; Icarus;
Right Now; City Mood; Decision.
Personnel: Jon Crowley: trumpet, flugelhorn; John Beaty: alto saxophone; Yayoi
Ikawa: piano; Peter Schwebs: bass; Nick Anderson: drums.