All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

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...

1

Steve Sandberg Quartet: Alaya

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
The best word to sum up pianist Steve Sandberg's work is expansive. If his own performance history doesn't make that point clearly enough—he's hobnobbed with Brazilian music royalty like the Gilberto clan, made his mark on the salsa world by working with artists like Rubén Blades and Celia Cruz, touched down time and again in the world of musical theater, and garnered several Emmy nominations for writing and musical direction on children's programs like Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go! —then this album should do the trick.

Alaya is a breathtaking composite of world music, jazz, and classical expressions. In other words, it's Sandberg's whole musical existence merging into a single stream. In these eight tracks, he delivers unto us an exultant music that's incredibly personal and precise in its direction, yet universal in its language and ability to connect. You need not recognize that the frolicking, Bartók-influenced "Janos" bounds along in seven to know that jubilant thoughts carry the moment; Francesco Clemente's paintings don't have to be on site to understand the emotional pull taking place in the somewhat introspective "Weeping Bear," inspired by that artist's work; and nobody's required to be an expert in musicology, horticulture, agronomy, and African religions in order to appreciate the spiritual rapture endemic to the triumphant "Iboga," a piece that simultaneously references a plant medicine and the Bwiti religion which looks on it as a sacrament. Sandberg's influences and execution are all about specificity, but the appeal of his music is in its universality.

The quartet that brings this music to life—Sandberg, violinist Zach Brock, bassist Michael O'Brien, and drummer Mauricio Zottarelli—is as tight as they come. Brock is both lyrical and virtuosic in his expressions, dancing and guiding the ear to and fro; O'Brien harmonically and rhythmically anchors the group, adding creative strength from the deep below; Zotarelli drives the train and paints cymbal-ic gestures around the periphery of these songs; and Sandberg summons the spirits and the sounds in alternately subtle and direct fashion(s), shaping the overall direction of the group.

It's hard to know if you should call this jazz, and that's the beauty of Alaya. It's both genre-blind and stylistically inclusive. Sandberg's work touches on everything from South American chacarera to odd-metered Afro-Cuban grooves and Frederic Chopin's classical language to Astor Piazzola's Nuevo Tango music. It's an alluring admixture that delights all the way through.

Track Listing: Janos; Maurice; Weeping Bear; Iboga; Annie; Eusebio; Mazur; Black Ivory.

Personnel: Zach Brock: violin; Steve Sandberg: piano; Michael O'Brien: bass; Mauricio Zottarelli: drums.

Title: Alaya | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Artist Share

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Oscar Peterson Plays CD/LP/Track Review
Oscar Peterson Plays
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 23, 2018
Read State Of The Baritone Volume 2 CD/LP/Track Review
State Of The Baritone Volume 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume one) CD/LP/Track Review
Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume one)
by Chris May
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Friends & Family CD/LP/Track Review
Friends & Family
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Northern Migrations CD/LP/Track Review
Northern Migrations
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Egregore CD/LP/Track Review
Egregore
by John Eyles
Published: April 22, 2018
Read "Jigsaw" CD/LP/Track Review Jigsaw
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 5, 2018
Read "Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk" CD/LP/Track Review Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 29, 2017
Read "Roberto Magris Sextet Live In Miami @ The WDNA Jazz Gallery" CD/LP/Track Review Roberto Magris Sextet Live In Miami @ The WDNA Jazz Gallery
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 2, 2017
Read "Original Demos" CD/LP/Track Review Original Demos
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 8, 2017
Read "A Humdrum Star" CD/LP/Track Review A Humdrum Star
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 13, 2018
Read "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" CD/LP/Track Review You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 24, 2018