Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

7

Gene Ess: Absurdist Theater

Jerome Wilson By

Sign in to view read count
On this CD guitarist Gene Ess and his group Fractal Attraction have put together an intelligent fusion of jazz, folk and rock concepts led by the glassy clarity of Ess' guitar and the calm beauty of Thana Alexa's voice. Alexa's rising and falling wordless tones are the first thing heard on the disc and they lead into a pretty, slow theme built on a methodical blend of voice, guitar and Manuel Valera's piano. The quiet mood continues on "Circe's Compassion" as Alexa's voice entwines with acoustic guitar and lush cymbal washes for a contemplative sound that touches on Ralph Towner territory.

There are heavier pieces on the CD as well. "Torii" is an intricate prog-jazz-funk amalgam with Yasushi Nakamura's throbbing bass and Clarence Penn's slow rolling drums underlining sharply buzzing electric guitar and moaning, scatting vocals while "Forkball" is a twisting guitar trio piece that spotlights Ess' prowess playing straight jazz guitar with the clean edge of Jim Hall and "Upward And Onward!" is hard-charging up-tempo jazz by the entire band with Alexa swooping and wailing like Flora Purim in her prime and Ess cutting loose with fast, swift licks.

The set is even flexible enough to incorporate a couple of actual songs out of a jazz-folk bag, "Jade Stones" and "Dejala Que Pase," where Alexa sings in a lovely soprano voice over placid, flowing melodies.

Although the CD is in Gene Ess' name this is really a group effort. He gets his feature spots but Thana Alexa's vocals give the music a human vulnerability that makes it stand out while the rhythm section plays with consistent taste and elegance. This disc covers a lot of bases but it is excellent from beginning to end.

Track Listing: Out Of The Ashes; Circe's Compassion; Jade Stones; Kunai; Torii (The Gate); Forkball (For Ornette); Dejala Que Pase; Upward And Onward!

Personnel: Gene Ess: guitar, synthesizer; compositions; Thana Alexa: voice, lyrics; Manuel Valera: piano, keyboards; Yasushi Nakamura: acoustic and electric bass; Clarence Penn: drums.

Title: Absurdist Theater | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: SIMP Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Album Reviews
Catching Up With
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Read more articles
Absurdist Theater

Absurdist Theater

SIMP Records
2016

buy
Eternal Monomyth

Eternal Monomyth

SIMP Records
2015

buy
Fractal Attraction

Fractal Attraction

SIMP Records
2013

buy
A Thousand Summers

A Thousand Summers

SIMP Records
2012

buy
Modes of Limited Transcendence

Modes of Limited...

SIMP Records
2009

buy
Modes of Limited Transcendence

Modes of Limited...

SIMP Records
2008

buy

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Barriers Album Reviews
Barriers
By Karl Ackermann
February 16, 2019
Read Fractal Guitar Album Reviews
Fractal Guitar
By John Kelman
February 16, 2019
Read The Early Bird Gets Album Reviews
The Early Bird Gets
By Mark Corroto
February 16, 2019
Read The Newest Sound You Never Heard Album Reviews
The Newest Sound You Never Heard
By Jerome Wilson
February 16, 2019
Read Think Big: Like Me Album Reviews
Think Big: Like Me
By Paul Naser
February 16, 2019
Read Melodic Ornette Coleman: Piano Works XIII Album Reviews
Melodic Ornette Coleman: Piano Works XIII
By Karl Ackermann
February 15, 2019
Read Free Fall Album Reviews
Free Fall
By Peter Hoetjes
February 15, 2019