Jim Santella joined All About Jazz in 1997
Jim Santella has been contributing CD reviews, concert reviews and DVD reviews to AAJ since 1997. His work has also appeared in Southland Blues, The L.A. Jazz Scene, and Cadence Magazine.
Fresh Sound New Talent
Now based in Reykjavik, Iceland, drummer Scott McLemore grew up on the American East Coast, studying at Old Dominion University and William Paterson College and paying his dues in New York for eight years. The program of original compositions on Found Music, recorded in 2000, bears the fruit of those years. Along with tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby, guitarist Ben Monder and bassist Ben Street, he stirs jazz' modern mainstream pot with a session that drives heartily with plenty of energy.
A drummer who likes to propel delicately from the center of the room, McLemore varies his textures and scrambles each selection enthusiastically. Saxophone and guitar work in unison much of the time, setting up the program's nine themes, then stretching out individually. Malaby's soulful tenor squeezes from the heart, while Monder's guitar issues legato notes that flow seamlessly alongside. With proud and staggered bass lines from Street, the program drives comfortably.
Exotic pieces allow for impressions that range from the mainland of ancient Spain to the deserts of the Middle East and onto Europe's northernmost fringes. McLemore's 'found' ideas come from various impressions and can be interpreted in many ways. What he brings us on this debut recording as leader is an eclectic program that draws from folk music influences and allows for the merging of creative spirits. Malaby, Monder and Street give McLemore a cohesive bundle that ebbs and flows gently while driving consistently through the underlying force of his drum kit.
Trombonist Brian Allen brings a burst of energy to contemporary creative music on Synapse (his fifth release), as his trio fits melody, harmony and rhythm into a mixed bag of free-flowing ideas. Tony Malaby plays a major role on this album too, as he helps steer the trio toward more outside adventures. Along with Allen and drummer Tom Rainey, he provides multi- directional flavors that keep the session on edge.
Veterans all, the three artists hail from points west: Rainey from Southern California, Malaby from Southern Arizona and Allen from Southeast Texas. With their free attitude on display, each participates equally, pushing each improvised piece with unbridled passion. The scenes rise and fall as the mood shifts, but the trio never boils over. They control each situation so that impressions remain vocal-like and natural. Malaby's aromatic tenor wafts melodic while Allen drives in circles of animated motion and Rainey colors with aplomb. Cohesive, the trio takes cues from each other gracefully and soars eloquently. With a great respect for poetry in motion, the trio uses most of its energy to work collectively, creating three-way scenes that reflect different impressions. "Tageshif drives powerfully with a forceful manner while "Espancino dances joyfully in celebration of the trio's free spirit. "Tenrayle begins with a quiet lull that morphs gradually into a soulful, vocal-like moan while "Expecade includes bombs from the drummer and wails from the two horns. Unique through its original instrumentation and free through its wide-ranging array of impressions, Allen's trio provides a lively yet integrated program of avant-garde jazz.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Hopeful Instead; Hold Up; Safe from the World; Matins; If You Wish; At No Cost to You; Ég Veit Ekki; Ambiguity; Worldly Possessions.
Personnel: Scott McLemore: drums; Tony Malaby: tenor saxophone; Ben Monder: guitar; Ben Street: bass.
Tracks: Sphret; Meloncem; Expecade; Briesrok; Alphren; Tageshif; Tenrayle; Espancino.
Personnel: Brian Allen: trombone; Tony Malaby: tenor saxophone; Tom Rainey: drums.
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