Jeremy Long: In Suspension (2012)
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While saxophonist Jeremy Long's lengthy résumé includes work with large ensembles on both sides of the classical-jazz divide, he goes the other way for his jazz debut. Long chose the tried-and-true saxophone-led organ trio format for his first leader session, but doesn't play it completely straight. In Suspension has its fair share of earthy groove moments, but it generally veers slightly left of center with some of its ideas and sounds.
Long's chameleon-like ability has allowed him to branch out in numerous musical directions over the years. He's able to shift gears without issue, allowing him to maintain a career as an active educator (Miami University in Ohio), classical performer (Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra), backup musician (Ray Charles, Chaka Khan) and, of course, jazz player (Blue Wisp Big Band, Vince DiMartino Jazz Orchestra). His saxophone can be boisterous, beatific, soothing, sly or soulful, and all of these moods and sounds are conjured with direct intent.
In Suspension is built around Long's originals, with a pair of choice covers thrown in for good measure. While a couple of his pieces don't necessarily catch fire or truly distinguish, the majority of the material is strong in all respects. A healthy portion of the title track is built around a catchy fourteen-beat pattern (eight plus six) and contains solo-inviting vamps that allow Long, organist Steven Snyder and drummer Jason Tiemann to peddle their wares. The driving, McCoy Tyner-esque "Blues For Schnitzel" and groove-morphing "Soul Food" are the other highlights.
The two covers allow Long to work with two different approaches. Duke Ellington's "Prelude To A Kiss" is delivered in mellow and relatively straightforward fashion, while Long's odd-metered treatment breathes new life into a makeover of "I Hear A Rhapsody," demonstrating that the dividing line between old and new is often based around arrangement and performance.
Track Listing: In Suspension; Shorter Tones; Changes; Blues For Schnitzel; Long Tones; Prelude To A Kiss; I Hear A Rhapsody; Soul Food.
Personnel: Jeremy Long: saxophone; Steven Snyder: Hammond organ; Jason Tiemann: drums.
Record Label: Innova Recordings