Seattle-based guitarist Jaiman Crunk hasn't taken half measures on Encounters, his debut as leader. In addition to marshalling over 20 top jazz musicianscherry picked for specific rolesCrunk employs fourteen brass, woodwind and string musicians from the Seattle Symphony Orchestra on half the compositions. These four numbers in particular underline Crunk's notable compositional and arranging skills and he succeeds, as few do, in marrying the classical and jazz idioms. Crunk's guitar playing is an added bonus, but it's the strength in the writing and the diverse yet cohesive contours of the music that really capture the ear.
Bass is central to six tracksthe other two are bass-less duetsand five separate, distinctive bassists are an indication of Crunk's method of writing for specific individuals. Veteran Ron Carter
. Brian Bromberg's slap bass accompanies Crunk as he carves another solo of fluid invention, though the song's ending, by contrast, is abrupt to say the least. "Beneath a Leaf" begins with Crunk briefly on erhu (2-string Chinese fiddle) before the orchestra plus saxophonists enter by the main door in a bold arrangement evocative of Frank Zappa
and Crunk. The ballad "What You Know"an intimate dialogue between Crunk and the ever expressive Anschellis an arresting piecelyrical yet restless.
Imagination is matched by ambition on these eight striking compositions, where contrasts in moods and textures are as satisfying as the strong individual imprints. Crunk is a compelling narrator and this recording is a very impressive opening statement.
Track Listing: Spuren; We’ve Come This Far; Let Me Slip Into Your Dreams Tonight; Just Questions; Beneath a Leaf; She Stepped Away; What You Know; Her Kiss.
Personnel: Jaiman Crunk: acoustic and electric guitars; Mark Taylor: alto saxophone (1); Richard Cole: tenor saxophone: (1, 5); Jon Goforth: tenor saxophone (1, 5); Bill Anschell: piano (1, 7); Ron Carter: bass (1); Byron Vannoy: drums (1); Kenneth Nash: percussion (1-2); Ernie Watts: tenor saxophone (2); Garrett Fisher: harmonium (2); Buster Williams: bass (2); T3 McChristy: drums (2, 4-6); Take 6; vocals (3); Brian Bromberg; bass (3); Will Calhoun: drums (3); Andy Narell; steel drums (4); Tommy Nitro: synthesizers (4-6); Tony Grey: bass (4); Wallace Roney: trumpet (5); John Patitucci: bass (5); Randy Brecker: trumpet (6); Ada Rovatti: tenor saxophone (6); Chris Symer: bass (6); Seamus Blake: tenor saxophone (8); David Sabee: conductor (1, 3, 5, 8); Anthony DiLorenzo: trumpet (1, 3, 5); Justin Emmerich; trumpet (1, 3, 5); Ko-ichiro Yamamoto: trombone (1); Erin James: flute (1, 3, 5); Robin Peery: flute (1, 3, 5); Selina Gresso: oboe (1, 3, 5); Noelle Burns: oboe (1); Seth Krimsky: bassoon (1); Mike Gamburg: bassoon (1); Brent Hages: English horn (1); Simon James: violin (1, 3, 5, 8); Mikhail Shmidt: violin (1); Sayaka Kokubo: viola (1); Eric Gaenslen: cello (1, 3, 5, 8); Keith Winkle: trombone (3, 5); Seth Tompkins: tuba (3, 5); Martin Kuuskmann: bassoon (3, 5); Stefan Farkas: English horn (3, 5); Marjorie Talvi: violin (3, 5, 8); Roxanna Patterson: viola (3, 5, 8); Ben Thomas: vibraphone (3).