Modern/free jazz saxophonist Kidd Jordan is arguably New Orleans' most forward-thinking artist, manifested in his freeform endeavors with drummer Andrew Cyrille and work with pianist Joel Futterman, among others. Multi-reedman Rob Wagner can be added to the same list of New Orleans' more adventurous jazz practitioners. And while Hurricane Katrina has forced many folks into evacuation mode because of a lack of work and other problems, Wagner has imprinted his stamp of jazz modernism within the region.
Presently in New York City, Wagner will be returning to the Crescent City with the intention of resuming his ongoing stint at the French Quarter's classy venue known as d.b.a. He also performs with the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars, but like many displaced New Orleanians, a glimmer of hope prevails as the artists and club owners strive to get the area's cash flow back on its feet.
Wagner's third effort looms as an extension of his previous solo endeavors. With his trio, the saxophonist explores variable structures within these multidirectional works. On "Wash Away Our Sins, the band pursues linear movements amid contrapuntal unison passages and a muscular presence. Wagner conjures up notions of sax hero Sam Rivers through his snaky, soprano lines during the trio's whirling-dervish presentation on "Lost Children. Here and elsewhere, the musicians generate a rising tide with graduating choruses atop drummer Ocie Davis' polyrhythmic pulses. Bassist James Singleton employs loops to complement his ethereal arco passages and single-note unison runs with the saxophonist.
In other areas, the band perpetuates breezy swing vamps and toe-tapping vibes. They exude chutzpah and an overriding sense of intimacy throughout these largely engaging workouts. Without a doubt, this unit warrants attention; Wagner triumphantly dispels New Orleans' stigma as a traditional and severely conservative jazz community. Strongly recommended.
Track Listing: Wash Away Our Sins; Early; Lost Children; 2068; Little Lamb; Talking in Sponges; 33 Nights with Mars; Night Before; When Sax was King.
Personnel: Rob Wagner: tenor, alto, soprano saxophones; James Singleton: bass, loops; Ocie Davis:
I love jazz because I was born and raised here in America, and it is one of the most significant cultural contributions we have given to the world. It is an incredibly sophisticated artform that continues to challenge boundaries while delighting and engaging listeners of all different ages and backgrounds
I love jazz because I was born and raised here in America, and it is one of the most significant cultural contributions we have given to the world. It is an incredibly sophisticated artform that continues to challenge boundaries while delighting and engaging listeners of all different ages and backgrounds. I love how jazz can involve musicians who may have never met each other can coming together and making incredible music by referring to the Great American Songbook and musicians who have been playing together for years, who have a deep connection and who explore and create original music that is at the cutting edge of musical innovation in every sense. Performing jazz music requires a virtuosity and technique that only strict discipline can teach as well as a spontaneity and playfulness that reflects the simple folk roots of the music.
I was first exposed to jazz as a student in college. Only knowing I wanted to play guitar, I enrolled in an applied music program that focused on Jazz rhythm section playing. The subsequent journey that I have been on since the time that I enrolled in that class has helped me grow not only as a musician but more so as a person.