Michael Janisch: Purpose Built (2009)
. TTC debuted on disc earlier in 2009 with the well-received Traveling Song (Woodville Records). Cornelius is also a member of the 10-piece band on Purpose Built, another US/British project and Janisch's debut album as leader. Featured British players include the fast rising young vibraphonist, Jim Hughart, and the outstanding guitarist, Phil Robson, who leads his own groups, notably including the string quartet, double-bass and guitar outfit Six Strings & A Beat, as well as co-leading the post-rock, post-jazz band, Partisans, with tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist Julian Siegel.
Shortly after arriving in London, Janisch formed The Transatlantic Collective with fellow Berklee alumnus, alto saxophonist Patrick Cornelius
's dictum that the piano can be thought of as "88 tuned drums." Unlike the iconoclastic Taylor, however, Janisch is a lyrical, if forceful, player and one who is comfortable working within the established, post-bop, American jazz tradition. Purpose Built isn't concerned with constructing a new edifice, much less tearing down an existing one; it's about creating sympathetic, structured platforms for virtuoso improvisation, and within that template it's very successful.
Janisch himself is an exceptionally powerful player whose approach to his instrument brings to mind Cecil Taylor
' "Milestones," co-arranged with Cornelius, who contributes a fine bop-rooted solo, Billy Strayhorn's "Blood Count," the slowest and most introspective tune on the set, and John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" (from the saxophonist's 1957 Blue Note album, Blue Train), a rapid-fire bass feature accompanied by drummer Johnathan Blake.
Most of the 12 tracks on the album are up-tempo Janisch originals, but there are four covers: Sammy Fain's "Love Is A Many Splendored Thing," Miles Davis
and Walter Smith 111. But the real stars are Hart, guitarists Robson and Mike Moreno, and pianist Aaron Goldberg, who is heard on just three tracks but makes a mighty impression. Janisch himself takes few formal solos, but is ever at the center of things.
Janisch's dense horn arrangements and relentlessly assertive playing style are both a little too monolithic for a disc lasting 73 minutes, but they're offset by the quality of the soloists. Cornelius shines, as do both tenor saxophonists, Paul Booth
A strong debut from a bandleader who will be even more effective once he's developed a better sense of contrasting light and shade dynamics.
Track Listing: Precisely Now; Adelante; Love Is A Many Splendored Thing; Shumshi; Milestones; Serenade Of The Seas; Puk-n-Pappo; Sofa Stomp; Lost Creek; Blood Count; Beep; Moment's Notice.
Personnel: Patrick Cornelius: alto saxophone (5, 11); Paul Booth: tenor saxophone (1, 2, 6); Walter Smith 111: tenor saxophone (1, 8, 11); Jason Palmer: trumpet (2, 7, 8, 11); Jim Hart: vibraphone (1, 4, 6,11); Mike Moreno: guitar (2, 7, 8); Phil Robson: guitar (5, 9); Aaron Goldberg: piano (3, 9, 10); Michael Janisch: acoustic bass (1, 3-7, 9-11) electric bass (2, 8, 12) ; Johnathan Blake: drums.
Record Label: Whirlwind Recordings Ltd
Style: Modern Jazz