Accurate Records: Growing Out of Boston
Ken Schaphorst Ensemble
When The Moon Jumps
For many years, arranger and composer Ken Schaphorst has worked with the medium of the big band, but When The Moon Jumps sees his him working within the format of the tentet.
The players he has found to realize his compositions are far from unknown. In fact, with Medeski, Martin & Wood and saxophonist Donny McCaslin participating, it could be called a regular star-ensemble. However, Schaphorst has the ability to use his collaborators ideally. As Bob Blumenthal writes in the liner notes: "Ken Schaphorst demonstrates that he knows both how to write, and, once his music is written, how to get his talented collaborators to make what he wrote sound right."
A perfect example of Schaphorst's ability to use the sound of his players is the beautifully realized "Concerto for John Medeski," a suite in three parts: "Flowing," "Standing Still" and "Flying." Here, pianist John Medeski's deconstructive sense of chaos and form, melody and dissonance, is translated into ambitious charts where the ebb and flow of the music enchants with a strong sense of inner logic.
Overall, Schaphorst has a superior sense of texture that comes successfully to the fore on When The Moon Jumps, that covers everything from silky Duke Ellington like swing to postmodern breakdowns of genre.
The Grismore/Scea Group was formed by guitarist Steve Grismore and saxophonist and flutist Paul Scea, but it also features trumpeter Tim Hagans, drummer Matt Wilson and bassist Johnny Turner. Together they make up a potent unit whose powerful brew of electrified post-bop is both melodic and groovy.
Horns and guitar lines weave in and out of each other on "157 A.M." and "Intensity/Density," showcasing an updated version of saxophonist Charlie Parker's aesthetic with a touch of the avant-garde. The playing is imbued with urgency and Grismore's distorted guitar lines scream with passion.
Scea and Grismore are strong composers, capable of both sound and fury and gentle ballads. Thus, "Die for a Metaphor" and "Gone But Not Forgotten," written by Scea and Grismore respectively, move into quiet territory, creating delicate textures of sound. Hagans' playing especially shines on the latter with a smoky tone, while Matt Wilson's subdued march-like rhythms provide the background for the melody.
Of What is ambitious post-bop at its best. Melodically challenging and rhythmically intense, the record burns with conviction. Jazz history is played inside out and transformed into something entirely new and refreshing.
Jacques Chanier Trio
The art of the trio is explored on pianist Jacques Chanier's beautiful album Quilt. Here, Chanier shows a crystalline, lyrical touch and an impressionistic sense of harmony, painting ethereal melodies with melancholy chords, but he can also swing with passion and inventiveness.
Helping him out is drummer Brooke Sofferman, who both caters to Chanier's lyrical mood and his need of a good groove. The same thing is true of bassist Thomas Kneeland whose use of electronics, as on the haunting "Endless," gives extra color to the trio's signature sound.