Jane Ira Bloom's career has been defined by experiment, whether exploring the outer reaches of space with NASA, the inner world of Jackson Pollock, or the technological cutting edge of telematics and surround sound. Her recent release Sixteen Sunsets combined the subtle artistry of ballad performance with the latest in surround sound techniques, resulting in a critically acclaimed, sumptuous collection. All About Jazz: Your latest album Sixteen Sunsets has received a lot of attention. How did you decide to do an album of ballads? Jane Ira Bloom: It had been percolating for awhile. On just about ...read more
Soprano saxophone virtuoso Jane Ira Bloom's intensely intimate and simultaneously cinematic Sixteen Sunsets is quite different from her preceding albums, Like Silver, Like Song (Artistshare, 2005), Mental Weather (Outline, 2008) and Wingwalker (Outline, 2010). Gone are the edgy flirtations with freer styles as well as the provocative, electrifying compositions. Instead the material is mostly standards and a few originals that are in the essence of those time honored songs, all interpreted with a lush lyricism laced with elegant spontaneous flourishes. Bloom's horn is the main instrument at the forefront of most of the session with the rhythm section ...read more
Sidney Bechet pioneered the use of the soprano saxophone in jazz in the early 20s. John Coltrane brought that straight horn" out of a relative dormancy of use in 1959 with his anthem-like take on Rodgers and Hammerstein's My Favorite Things" on his Atlantic Records album of the same name. Steve Lacy took the soprano out there," and Dave Liebman continues to stretch its boundaries. The name Jane Ira Bloom can be added to that list of icons. For thirty years Bloom has used the soprano saxophone to give voice to fertile and uncompromising artistic spirit. She's broken ...read more
On Wingwalker, as on her other albums, soprano saxophonist/electronics manipulator Jane Ira Bloom concerns herself with all things mysterious and beautiful. On this album, however, she does considerably more. The saxophonist has connected with the seemingly magical elements that lead her to expand the imagination. She does so as she lets the voice of her straight horn emerge from the depths of her soul. With impeccable, almost mystical tone and with a palette of a myriad, wondrous colors Bloom conjures a blithe spirit that roams the deepest recesses of the mind, dealing glancing blows not just on the auditory senses, ...read more
Saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom is a first-class improviser and composer, and delivers a compelling case for herself on Wingwalker. Full of inventive original compositions, fine performances, and Bloom's rich, natural tone, this record is a standout. Although the soprano saxophone is less frequently heard, this record boldly demands its place at the table with its curved-bell brethren. Bloom takes composition credit for all but one track. Even so, Wingwalker has a collaborative overall feel to it. All of the members of her quartet stand out by necessity, in service to her complex and inventive compositions. Drummer Bobby Previte, ...read more
There is not a dull or cliché moment on Jane Ira Bloom's fourteenth album, Wingwalker. Her sound has been described as futuristic, and there is certainly some of that on tracks like Frontiers in Science" and Live Sports." But, most of all, Bloom is a master composer and musician with a truly unique sound. All compositions on the release are by Bloom, except for the standard, I Could Have Danced All Night."Even though there are brilliant moments of improvisation all over the album, the emphasis is on the beauty of Bloom's compositions. Each composition has plenty of harmonic ...read more
The soprano saxophone often gets a raw deal. Many people see it as a relic from the early ages of jazz, a smooth jazz delivery method or a secondary axe that's only to be used when their alto saxophone, tenor saxophone or clarinet needs a break. While these attitudes are prevalent throughout a large portion of the jazz community, a few artists have bravely soldiered on, making the soprano their instrument of choice. Jane Ira Bloom--along with a few other singularly gifted artists like Sam Newsome and Dave Liebman--continues to bring legitimacy to the idea that the soprano saxophone can ...read more
By Jane Ira Bloom I thought I would talk about improvising and I should say that I'd try to talk about it because words are often difficult for me. My performance world is sonic; more poetry than prose, more like the weather than the forecast--more pliable and less specific--cloud-like and always shifting shape. Not surprisingly, music is the medium through which I prefer to communicate because it holds more energy and the process of spontaneous invention feels more natural. But with the words that I can find, here is what improvising is like for me: I string ...read more
Since 2000, Chamber Music America has put its imprint on jazz by supporting projects by (among others) Dave Douglas, Ben Allison, Don Byron and Ryan Cohan. But while Cohan's multi-hued plea for peace One Sky (Justin Time, 2008) operates on a macro scale, saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom's Mental Weather is much more intimate, though no less creative. Bloom has benefited from CMA's largesse before, so they must think she's a good investment. Given the stunning beauty Bloom has created, CMA's hunch looks like a good one.
Bloom and Dawn Clement set the date's creative direction with A More Beautiful Question," ...read more
Sometimes it's good to shake things up. Jane Ira Bloom has been working with the same bass/drum team of Mark Dresser and Bobby Previte since The Red Quartets (Arabesque, 1999) and, more often than not, the soprano saxophonist's pianist of choice has been Fred Hersch as far back as Mighty Lights (Enja, 1983). Bloom's distinctive blend of spare lyricism, sometimes knotty writing and tasteful use of live electronics remains intact but, with an entirely new quartet, Mental Weather is less ethereal and more direct than the equally fine Live Silver, Like Song (ArtistShare, 2005).
Bloom--one of ...read more
In the distinctly male world of jazz and improvised music, it is particularly good to hear music that sparkles with femaleness. The fact that a woman composes and plays that music is icing on the cake. Suddenly, everything seems to fit together. The gender. The sound. The dynamic.
And nothing could identify this femaleness more than Jane Ira Bloom's Mental Weather. She has placed herself adroitly in a band that has yet another woman, Dawn Clement, at the piano and a top-shelf rhythm section of Mark Helias on bass and Matt Wilson on drums.
From the recording's unaccompanied first phrase, ...read more
Jane Ira Bloom is a pixie. An electronicized pixie, to be precise. This is not entirely a musical image, but also a description of her onstage demeanor. Mental Weather's chief quality is one of capering lightness, as the quartet leader's soprano saxophone negotiates the tricky lines set up by the composing half of her brain, navigating around hyperventilating themes that are tightly twinned with the similarly stippling piano and Fender Rhodes of Dawn Clement. The bass and drums of Mark Helias and Matt Wilson are cast in a surprisingly funky role, bringing these airy women down to earth.read more
Jane Ira Bloom is one of those musicians I'd known about by reputation but hadn't actually heard. Now, having listened at last to her most recent album, Like Silver, Like Song, I am somewhat at a loss as to what to say about it.
Even though well-played--let there be no doubt about that--it is clearly on the outer periphery of jazz as I know and appreciate it. Whereas the basic musical elements--melody, harmony, rhythm--are securely in place, the mood is primarily low-key and ethereal, there's little in the way of meaningful improvisation, and the ambiance is often created and nurtured ...read more
Like Silver, Like Song marks another fine addition to Jane Ira Bloom's catalog and another evolution of her working quartet, which has featured a number of accomplished pianists. However, with the addition of Jamie Saft this time around, one can easily hear that she may have discovered her ideal foil. Bloom has long been developing her electronics persona in an acoustic setting, and she has consistently been successful. And while the addition of Saft marks a pushing of these boundaries, the group sound never abandons the acoustic realm, nor the beauty of Bloom's music.Saft's presence may earmark the ...read more
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