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Josh Ginsburg: Baltimore, MD, January 14, 2012

Josh Ginsburg: Baltimore, MD, January 14, 2012
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Josh Ginsburg
An Die Musik
Baltimore, Maryland
January 14, 2012
Josh Ginsburg celebrated the release of his new CD, Zembla Variations (Brooklyn Jazz Underground, 2012), with two special performances, one at the Jazz Gallery in New York on January 12 and the other two days later at An Die Musik, a cozy, loft-like venue in Baltimore. Zembla Variations marks Ginsburg's debut as a leader, after having been an especially active jazz bassist in the New York area over the past dozen years, in addition to touring in Europe and Asia. He was joined by his collaborators on the CD, Eli Degibri
Eli Degibri
Eli Degibri
b.1978
sax, tenor
on tenor and soprano sax, George Colligan
George Colligan
George Colligan
b.1969
keyboard
on piano, and Rudy Royston on drums—all of whom are among today's most accomplished jazz instrumentalists. While they aren't yet household names, they've all had important associations with major jazz heavyweights: Degibri has toured with Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
, Colligan is in Jack DeJohnette
Jack DeJohnette
Jack DeJohnette
b.1942
drums
's current band, and Royston is working regularly with Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
b.1951
guitar
. Ginsburg himself has an impressive resume, having played with Tom Harrell
Tom Harrell
Tom Harrell
b.1946
trumpet
, Mulgrew Miller
Mulgrew Miller
Mulgrew Miller
1955 - 2013
piano
, Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
b.1943
piano
and Bobby Watson
Bobby Watson
Bobby Watson
b.1953
sax, alto
, in addition to regular work with Colligan's own trio, and Marcus Strickland
Marcus Strickland
Marcus Strickland

saxophone
and E.J. Strickland.
The quartet's performance in Baltimore was a homecoming of sorts for Ginsburg, who grew up in the city before making his way to the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, where he wrote most of the compositions on the CD. The CD's title, in fact, is derived from Ginsburg's nickname for Red Hook—"Zembla"—borrowed from a fictional land in the 1962 Nabokov novel, Pale Fire. In the notes to the CD, Ginsburg describes the novelist's Zembla as a "mad fantasy."
Never having been to Red Hook myself, I can't say whether or not Ginsburg's compositions evoke the area, but there's plenty of fantasy in them. Ginsburg's quartet started out his set with the CD opener, "PushBar (for Emergency Exit)," a dramatic piece inspired by sounds of the New York City subway. "Oxygen" held a relaxed, strolling feel, with romantic playing by Colligan, followed by "Gently," a ballad-like composition in 7/4, which included an outstanding solo workout by Ginsburg. "Red Giant" nicely featured some exciting improvisation on Degibri's part on tenor, along with a climactic drum solo by Royston. Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
b.1950
keyboard
's "Too High" provided a fun change of pace in the set, featuring a playful arrangement where Ginsburg took the melody line in his instrument's upper register.

On the whole, the outing had its fill of great, adventurous playing by Ginsburg and his colleagues. Here's hoping he takes on more opportunities to showcase his fine writing and virtuoso musicianship sometime soon.

Photo Credit
Bob Kenselaar

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