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Seattle based keyboard whiz/composer Wayne Horvitz has been a staple of NYC’s cutting edge “Downtown Scene”. Throughout, Horvitz has released several cd’s as a leader ie; Pigpen, Zony Mash and has collaborated with the likes of Elliot Sharp, John Zorn and Bobby Previte. 4 + 1 Ensemble is his latest solo effort and represents Horvitz’ in an introspective mood yet the material here is musically stimulating.
Horvitz possesses an uncanny ability to exploit tried and true cliches’ yet has a predilection for the avante-garde. His keyboard prowess is unique. Horvitz can lull you to sleep with a familiar approach while stretching the limits of his imagination he often segues into unusual proclamations of disparate musical motiff’s. His command of electronics is equally astounding. Horvitz has carved out a unique voice on the keyboards and deserves wider recognition not only for his keyboard mastery but justifiably so as a band leader/composer.
4 + 1Ensemble features the young Seattle based violinist Eyvind Kang, veteran jazz trombonist Julian Priester, Reggie Watts on keyboards and Tucker Martine handles the drum processing. Horvitz wields his magic wan with cagey keyboard manipulations and at times, meditative passages. The first track “Step Aside” features some lovely work from the great Julian Priester with Horvitz serving as a perfect compliment in the background. The young Eyvind Kang a member of Bill Frisell’s Quartet) performs with the finesse and majesty of a classical violinist. Kang also implements some dissonant runs to offset the generally melodic Horvitz compositions. At times the music is serene and complex yet smooth as silk. Every note counts ! Horvitz’ individualistic approach is easily identifiable within the “new jazz” scene. His use of electronic keyboards serves to emphasize rather than dominate. The songs here tend to seem surreal. A certain mystifying appeal seems to be a fair summarization of the music. The music is apt to swing, change gears on a dime and basically mesmerize the listener with its subtle beauty. Wayne Horvitz is on a roll especially with his new ZONY MASH release. This cd should further entrench Horvitz as one of the reigning keyboard technicians and composers in jazz.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.