Dramatic modern mainstream jazz contains curious harmonic concepts and rhythmic variety. Leading with tenor and soprano saxophones, Tim Ries provides six original pieces and two standards, from which his ensemble extracts the essential elements. A leading section member with the bands of Maynard Ferguson and Maria Schneider, Ries holds a master's degree in performance and composition from the University of Michigan. At 41, he's at a crossroads; where his writing and leadership mean as much as his searing solo work.
Organ and guitar give the septet a contemporary sound. The horns blend with an overly consonant mixture that cries out for variety. Everyone solos at some point in the program, creating punctuation for Ries' format. The Rolling Stones' "Moonlight Mile" stands apart as a beautiful ballad, while "What is this Thing Called Love" sashays pertly with unexpected pleasures. The leader's originals weave exotic themes with tension and release patterns. The counterpoint presents a mood, while each soloist supplies a matching interpretation. Ries has already proven that he's a superb saxophonist, and he wears that hat proudly on this session. His latest album presents another side of the artist: his suite-like modern mainstream compositional style, which earns him high marks.
Track Listing: The Sinner and the Saint; What is this Thing Called Love; Copake; 4637; A Simpler Time; Hart's Beat; Alternate Blues; Moonlight Mile.
Personnel: Tim Ries- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Greg Gisbert- trumpet, flugelhorn; Michael Davis- trombone; Ben Monder- guitar; Larry Goldings- piano, Hammond B3 organ; John Patitucci- bass; Billy Drummond- drums; Stacey Shames- harp on "Copake" and "Hart's Beat."
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.