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Jeff Silverbush: Grandma Mickey (2006)

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Jeff Silverbush: Grandma Mickey How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

For entirely practical reasons, it's difficult to overcome a sense of frustration with this music. Silverbush and his compadres work through a programme of his original compositions, all of which have character, and trombonist Jacob Garchik in particular is a soloist to listen out for—listen to "Bittern And Pintail," where he combines some of the rambunctious qualities of Ray Anderson with the feel of Radu Malfatti. However, this seven-minute track clocks in as the longest by some distance, and the overall feel is of a group deliberately reining itself in.

Whether or not this is down to some restriction imposed by Silverbush is of course a mystery. He makes much of this music's connection with and influence by bird song, which makes its presence felt, in its way, on the two and a half minutes of "Penny," which sound wholly composed and thus the opposite of what a lot of groups with a similar lineup would have come up with. The same is more obviously true of "Song Thrush," where the unison voices of the leader (on soprano sax) and pianist Jacob Sacks get closest to replicating the irregular sonorities of bird song. The other influence that springs to mind, albeit not one that Silverbush makes direct reference to, is Willem Breuker. The likes of "The Song Of Happiness" show a feel for the kind of darkly comic cabaret that has frequently come from Breuker's pen.

None of this is enough, however, to dispel that feeling of frustration. Silverbush's music is undoubtedly of an order to make demands of musicians, and the quintet assembled here is obviously equal to those demands. The lasting impression is one of an opportunity missed, however, largely due to the brevity of most of these pieces.

Track Listing: Northern Mockingbird; E.R. In The Apple Tree; Einstein Sunshine; The Song Of Happiness; Song Thrush; Grandma Mickey: Bittern And Pintail; New York Needs Beauty; Penny; Indigo Bunting; Flower Head; The Empire State Building; The Moon; Birdsongs (Tracks 14-17 inclusive).

Personnel: Jeff Silverbush: tenor and soprano saxophones; Jacob Garchik: trombone; Jacob Sacks: piano; Ed Fuqua: bass; John Bollinger: drums.

Record Label: Dodo Music

Style: Beyond Jazz


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