Amazon.com Widgets

The Jim Olsen Ensemble: We See Stars (2014)

By Published: | 1,947 views
The Jim Olsen Ensemble: We See Stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

For We See Stars, Oregon-based composer / arranger Jim Olsen has pared his usual big band down to a more manageable tentet but hasn't lessened the ebullience and ingenuity that are invariably a part of Olsen's broad palette. The album, Olsen says, evolved from a casual post-concert conversation in which he asked trumpeter Bobby Shew
Bobby Shew
Bobby Shew
b.1941
trumpet
and saxophonist Dick Oatts
Dick Oatts
Dick Oatts
b.1953
saxophone
, longtime friends and colleagues who had performed and recorded together in the past, if they would consider teaming up to do it again. Instead of brushing aside his request, Shew and Oatts embraced the idea, and it wasn't long before Olsen had faced a piano, written some new music and assembled a band to play it, with the two superstars as its nucleus.

Among the characteristics of Olsen's music that stand out are rhythmic vitality and harmonic variety, the first of which propels the band inflexibly forward while the second provides an alluring sonic counterpoint. Shew and Oatts are wholly at ease within that shifting framework, as their tasteful solos clearly affirm. Oatts' alto is showcased with the splendid pianist John Harmon on the aptly named "Wistful," Shew's flugelhorn, again with Harmon, on the ethereal "We See Stars," which precedes the bright, well-grooved finale, "Running Amok," on which Shew and Oatts provide yet another sample of their improvisational artistry.

Earlier, there are effective solos by other members of the ensemble including alto / soprano saxophonist Hashem Assadullahi
Hashem Assadullahi
Hashem Assadullahi
b.1981
saxophone
, tenor Lynn Baker
Lynn Baker
Lynn Baker
b.1955
saxophone
, trumpeter Dana Heitman and trombonist Glenn Bonney, none of whom is found wanting. As for the rhythmic framework, it is in the capable hands of Harmon, bassist Andrea Niemiec and drummer Jason Palmer
Jason Palmer
Jason Palmer
b.1979
trumpet
, with percussionist Mike Snyder joining in on "We See Stars" and "Dark Sun." Speaking of which, that theme is Olsen's shadowy take on Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
1908 - 2002
vibraphone
's jazz standard, "Midnight Sun." Without going into specifics, every other tune is thematic as well. By name, they are "Scary Hair," "Illogical Conclusion," "Shard" and "What Needs to Be Said." Shew and Oatts solo on every one save "Dark Sun," while Olsen adds an alto flute solo on "Shard."

Even though Olsen didn't expect much from what was basically a casual chat with a couple of fellow musicians, wouldn't it be nice if other such conversations were to produce the same kind of results. The stars truly were aligned that day, and Olsen has made the most of his good fortune on We See Stars.

Track Listing: Scary Hair; Dark Sun; Illogical Conclusion; Shard; What Needs to Be Said; Wistful; We See Stars; Running Amok.

Personnel: Jim Olsen: composer, arranger, flutes; Bobby Shew: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dana Heitman: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dick Oatts: alto, soprano sax; Hashem Assadullahi: alto, soprano sax; Lynn Baker: tenor, soprano sax; Glenn Bonney: trombone; John Harmon: piano, electric piano; Andrea Niemiec: basses; Jason Palmer: drums; Mike Snyder: congas, percussion.

Record Label: OA2 Records


comments powered by Disqus
Search
Support All About Jazz Through Amazon

Weekly Giveaways

Mark Elf

Mark Elf

About | Enter

Stefano Bollani

Stefano Bollani

About | Enter

Carmen Lundy

Carmen Lundy

About | Enter

Wadada Leo Smith

Wadada Leo Smith

About | Enter

Bandzoogle: GET STARTED TODAY - FREE TRIAL

Enter it twice.
To the weekly jazz events calendar

Enter the numbers in the graphic
Enter the code in this picture

Log in

One moment, you will be redirected shortly.

Article Search