Tim Newman Sextet at William Paterson University
The Jazz Room At William Paterson University
October 1, 2006
William Paterson University spent three years searching for a jazz historian, holding out for someone with the appropriate scholarly credentials who could also take care of business on the bandstand. Bass trombonist Tim Newman, currently in his third year on the job, brought a sextet into WPU's Jazz Room and readily proved that the department's assessment of his ability as a performer was right on the money.
Only a few minutes after an image of Thad Jones (the Jazz Studies Program's first director) was flashed on a huge screen behind the stage as part of a pitch for student scholarship funds, Newman's sextet opened with Jones' arrangement of Herbie Hancock's "Riot, from the pianist's 1968 Speak Like A Child recording. Newman, flutist Adam Kolker, and trumpeter Joe Magnarelli shared the tune's melody. Initially evoking a kind of stillness, the leader's solo began with long, somber tones before it evolved into active, muscular lines that were accompanied by accelerating staccato figures by the horns.
Jones' arrangement of Hancock's "Toys was a fitting vehicle for a string of five solos. Pianist Mike Holober's sparkling single note lines were cohesive and easy to follow. Magnarelli's flugelhorn moved from darting flurries, to fat tones, to a long impassioned cry. The rhythm section came down in volume behind Kolker's flute as he displayed rich tone and a relaxed chain of ideas. Newman's turn integrated the repetition of a couple of witty phrases and some extended notes. Bassist Andy Eulau worked the entire instrument, combining cyclical figures and a traditional walking line.
Newman's composition "Dancing In Flames was written for a student group at New York University, where he is currently a doctoral candidate in music composition. William Paterson's Jazz Program Coordinator David Demsey joined the group on soprano sax, and Kolker switched to bass clarinet. The medium tempo, spasmodic line featured the leader's bass trombone and Demsey's soprano before alternating between secondary themes and solos by Kolker, Magnarelli, and Holober.
An arrangement by Newman of "Goodbye Porkpie Hat breathed new life into Charles Mingus' iconic, often played composition. A single chord by Holober prefaced Newman's achingly beautiful solo introduction. Setting off his resonant sound to its best advantage, Newman took his time and plumbed the depths of the instrument's range. Holober returned with pairs of heaving chords, and then Kolker's bass clarinet joined Newman's muted horn and they played the melody at a glacial tempo. After Newman's solo over the gentle sweep of drummer Tim Horner's brushes, Holober's turn evinced both graceful movement and dynamic phrasing. When the band once again played Mingus' melody, the pianist gradually evolved from soloist to accompanist.
The head of "Forty Ninth Street, Bill Mobley's sprightly, bebop-infused composition, incorporated Newman and Magnarelli's muted horns, Kolker's bass clarinet, plus a four-bar break by Horner using brushes. Beginning with variations of a three-note phrase and influenced by Eulau and Horner's inflections, Newman's solo exuded warmth amidst a somewhat gruff exterior.
Next up were three brief excerpts from Newman's extended composition, "The Storm King Suite, named after the Storm King Art Center, a five hundred acre outdoor museum that specializes in postwar sculptures. Newman's ability to arrange melodically rich themes in various instrumental combinations and integrate brief solos (most notably by Magnarelli during "Ernest Trova: Gox Number 4 ) made this reviewer want to hear the piece in its entirety.
"Jiggywidt, a calypso written by Newman, was a delightful way to end the concert. After Horner's brief introduction, a four-horn front line (including Demsey's soprano) played the head, followed by a drum break built into the composition's end. Horner supplemented a deep groove with a variety of textures. Sticks on drum rims animated a portion of Holober's solo. A combination of sticks to the rims and the head of the snare made a fine contrast to his bass drum during Eulau's turn, before they launched a series of 2 and 1 bar exchanges then improvised simultaneously.