204

Vinson Valega: Awake

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
Vinson Valega: Awake The underlying message inside Vinson Valega's Awake summons a quiet call to social and political awareness, just as past artists have done like saxophonist Sonny Rollins' Freedom Suite (Riverside, 1958). But for the activist and the pacifist alike, the message in this new release is clear and to the point—with music that is conscientious, alive, and immersive.

A few things have changed since Valega's last recording Consilience (Consilience Productions, 2003). As the previous release featured the drummer in a trio setting, the new recording finds him leading an extremely tight sextet. Things have naturally opened up with the addition of piano and three horns, including trumpeter Terell Stafford. Giving way to wider and more melodic tunes, the sextet covers eleven originals (by various band members) and the lovely "Take Time for Love, written by pianist James Williams (to whom the CD is dedicated).

Some things have not changed. Valega is still one of the most swinging drummers around, with snappy trap-work, and an ear for compositions that carry a sense of cool freedom, bringing to mind the 1960s modal sounds in a contemporary setting. Smooth horn arrangements, tight rhythms, and detailed solos, are found on personal favorites such as the title piece "Awake and "Undertow, written by and featuring bassist Josh Ginsburg.

Democracy in action is witnessed as each musician exchanges ideas, collaborates, and works together to bring something to the process. This is heard on "Sputnik, which has a Coltrane-like "Giant Steps vamp as Anton Denner's piccolo, Chris Bacas' soprano sax, and Stafford's trumpet feverishly swirl together, segueing nicely into the third part of "This is What Democracy Sounds Like. If only our political system could work in such harmony.

The recording nears the end with the suave "The Trend Is Your Friend , boasting proud solos from everyone. But the cherry on top comes on "Take Time for Love, a poignantly soulful ballad where each instrument's voice is suffused with the shimmer of Valega's percussion. Awake is just one example that would remind us to not only be aware of our social environment, but to also be cognizant of the rich music that we call jazz.

Track Listing: Luftmenschen; Awake; Fog; This is What Democracy Sounds Like; Undertow; Ed Blackwell; This is What Democracy Sounds Like [Part II]; Stacked Sienna; Sputnik; This is What Democracy Sounds Like [Part III]; The Trend is Your Friend; Take Time for Love.

Personnel: Vinson Valega: drums; Anton Denner: alto saxophone, piccolo; Chris Bacas: tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet; Terell Stafford: trumpet; Jon Cowherd: piano; Josh Ginsburg: bass.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Consilience Productions | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Liner Notes
Take Five With...
CD/LP/Track Review
  • Awake by Mark F. Turner
Megaphone
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Reflections CD/LP/Track Review Reflections
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Back In Your Own Backyard CD/LP/Track Review Back In Your Own Backyard
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Greatest Licks - I Feel Like Singin' CD/LP/Track Review Greatest Licks - I Feel Like Singin'
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Through The Glass CD/LP/Track Review Through The Glass
by Nicola Negri
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Circles CD/LP/Track Review Circles
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "New Focus On Song" CD/LP/Track Review New Focus On Song
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 23, 2016
Read "Fourtune" CD/LP/Track Review Fourtune
by Duncan Heining
Published: November 28, 2016
Read "Arctic" CD/LP/Track Review Arctic
by James Nadal
Published: April 1, 2016
Read "Life" CD/LP/Track Review Life
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 16, 2016
Read "Meditations on Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Meditations on Freedom
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: January 16, 2017
Read "Live At The Troubadour 1969" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Troubadour 1969
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: January 14, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!