Home » Jazz Articles » Keith Karns Big Band: An Eye on the Future

7
Album Review

Keith Karns Big Band: An Eye on the Future

By

Sign in to view read count
Keith Karns Big Band: An Eye on the Future
It's hard to know in advance exactly what to expect from a big-band album whose title is An Eye on the Future. Luckily, the horizon as leader Keith Karns sees it is rhythmically persuasive, harmonically alluring, acknowledges an indispensable bond to the past and swings like crazy. On this album, it's a tomorrow that also sets aside ample room for the prodigious talents of tenor saxophonist Rich Perry who solos on the first five of its seven numbers.

In summarizing the recording's purpose, Karns alludes to a statement by the late drummer Mel Lewis: "We are concerned with the future through the past." To that end, he has drawn inspiration from such renowned yet dissimilar composers and arrangers as Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Thad Jones, Bob Brookmeyer and Jim McNeely, among others, expressing the hope that "this tradition can be heard alongside our own voice." Indeed it can, in a series of lustrous charts that honor jazz tradition while exploring new areas of expression.

Karns and the ensemble open with the equivocally named "Two or Three Birds with One Bird," which apparently has nothing to do with the Bird also known as Charlie Parker but instead salutes "happy melodies" by presenting one of its own, a carefree theme that seems perfectly suited to Perry's evocative tenor voice (as do all the others on which he is heard). "An Eye on the Future," whose chorale-like preface clearly brings to mind modernists like Jones and Brookmeyer, was written by Karns when he learned he was to become a father for the first time, while the well-grooved "Thursday Club" is his homage to drummer Art Blakey and the celebrated Jazz Messengers.

Perry is the lone soloist on "Thursday Club," as he is on "Two or Three Birds," "Future" and Karns' outside-the-box arrangement of the standard "Like Someone in Love." Perry shares solo space with trumpeter Daniel Matthews, trombonist Connor Eisenmenger and drummer Connor Kent on the upbeat "Law of Contagion," then steps aside to make room for Karns (flugelhorn) and alto Devin Eddleman on yet another anomalous chart, this one on the Vincent Youmans standard "Without a Song" (on which Karns reshapes the familiar melody and inserts elements of Stravinsky's Petrouchka), and the brisk finale, "Crowd Control," whose genesis is in itself an interesting story (yes, it is included in the liner notes). Suffice to say the chart is based on Don Redman's 1926 composition "Stampede" and once again showcases Karns' nimble flugelhorn.

Sliding past Karns and Perry for the moment, it should be noted that the (presumably) Dallas-based ensemble is outstanding, sprinting easily through Karns' often strenuous arrangements with no discernible unease or miscues. If this does indeed represent the future, it is one that jazz aficionados should welcome with eyes wide open.

Track Listing

Two or Three Birds with One Bird; An Eye on the Future; The Thursday Club; Like Someone in Love; The Law of Contagion; Without a Song; Crowd Control.

Personnel

Keith Karns: leader, composer, arranger, flugelhorn; Jake Boldman: trumpet; Michael Campagna: trumpet; Kevin Swaim: trumpet; Daniel Matthews: trumpet; Stuart Mack: trumpet; Devin Eddleman, Alex Fraile, Aaron Hedenstrom, Brian Horton, Spenser Liszt: woodwinds; Carl Lundgren: trombone; Connor Eisenmenger: trombone; Matt Corrigan: trombone; Chris Sharpe: trombone; Kenny Davis: trombone; Horace Bray: guitar; Colin Campbell: piano; Jack Helsley: bass; Connor Kent: drums. Featured soloist – Rich Perry, tenor sax (1-5). Guest conductor – Garrett Wingfield (6).

Album information

Title: An Eye on the Future | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: OA2 Records


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album

Tags

More

New Oxford Brevity
Dominic Lash / Pat Thomas
Dedicated To You
Joe Coughlin
Times Like These
Nica Carrington
Blue Note Re:imagined II
Various Artists

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.