Dot Time Records: Placing the Artist in the Center
The title of the album might be Underground, but Baker's band shouldn't remain a secret only known by those hip few in the know. It's an album that captures the energy and innovation of the New York jazz scene and it deserves wide exposure.
Thelonious4 meets Tony Miceli
Respect for tradition is an important part of the ethos of Dot Time Records. The label's catalog features many artists that reinvent and pay respect to jazz tradition. This can be done in many ways: Through bold reinventions of standards like Matt Baker or a respectful tribute to the swinging sounds of the past on an album like Shoutin' Out where trumpeter and vocalist Herman Nijkamp and saxophonist Jacco van Santen lead a quartet that mainly focuses on standards and manage to recreate some of the magic of the good old days without sounding anachronistic.
Another way of paying respect to tradition is by exploring the oeuvre of a particular artist and this is exactly what Thelonious4 has decided to do. The artist in question is, of course, Thelonious Monk, one of the great composer and players in jazz history.
In the spirit of Monk, the quartet of saxophonist Iman Spaargaren, guitarist Guillermo Celano, bassist Andreas Metzler and drummer Jurjen Bakker doesn't play a streamlined version of the music. Celano isn't afraid to use distortion on his guitar and Spaargaren once in a while gives his horn a healthy honkjust to prevent things from getting too smooth.
But make no make mistake, this isn't just advanced intellectualism, but infectiously swinging and harmonic music . It might be "Nutty," but it's also filled with "Bemsha Swing" to quote two of the Monk- titles played on the album.
A welcome addition to the group's universe is vibraphonist Tony Miceli, who has the same balance between free-wheeling swing and advanced rhythms and harmony. It is simply a joy to follow the unison lines between guitar, saxophone and vibes. This is a group that plays as an organic unit, but still has the refreshing idiosyncratic individualism that characterized Monk's music.
The Jost Project
Can't Find My Way Home
Vibraphonist Tony Miceli turns up again on one of the latest releases from Dot Time Records. He and bassist Kevin MacConnell got the idea for a band whose focus would be to play the rock music they grew up with, bands like the Beatles, Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin , in a jazz context.
Instead of playing purely instrumental versions, which would be the easiest thing to do, Miceli and MacConnell decided to add a singer and this singer, Paul Jost, became so important in terms of the band's sound that he got the honor of naming the band: The Jost Project.
Jost is truly an exceptional singer, instrumentalist and arranger whose technical prowess and natural musicality benefit the band immensely. Even when they decide to speed up the tempo on a high-paced version of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" that could easily be re-named "Run This Way," Jost doesn't lose focus. He masters every thinkable nuance of the singer's palette, from lightning-fast scatting to smoky, blues phrasings and elegant crooning.
The band is just as eclectic as its singer and never get stuck in one instrumental bag. Drummer Charlie Patierno is able to change between full throttle rock rhythms, solid grooves and elegant swinging and bassist McConnell is just as intriguing whether he plays with bow or anchors the complex changes in tempo and sound.
The combination between Miceli's ethereal, chiming vibraphone and the down-to-earth grooves of bass and drums become the perfect foil for Jost's chameleon-like ability to change musical expressions at will, but in the middle of it all, the music is carried by a rooted jazz 'n' blues feeling, which makes all talk of postmodern shallowness redundant.
Like all the releases on Dot Time Records, this is music that is carried by the integrity of the artists and not the prejudice of what art should be. With their inside knowledge of what it means to be a musician, Andrew Read and Jo Bickhardt know how to place the artist in the center and this shines through on a label that is driven by the energy, creativity and passion of the music and those who make it.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Barhopping; Wait till the end; Boptopus; Strangeness; What a diff'rence the bass makes; Herbal Brew; Night Song; Padoodedap; Slofunk; Friday Morning; Bouncing Bubbles; Joy Felt.