Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

271

Randy Simon Jazz Project: Awakening

By

Sign in to view read count
In describing his project on his website, composer Randy Simon characterizes his entry into the world of jazz composition as the result of a "midlife crisis." A lifelong jazz fan, Simon began taking piano lessons as an adult. Finding improvisation to be a challenge, he found that he could write down the melodies in his head, at which point his "piano lessons became composition lessons."

As it happened, Simon's teacher was a performing musician, and through connections forged through that association, Simon began to find musicians who could turn the notes on the page into full-fledged jazz performances.

Connections are helpful, of course, but it also helps to have a tremendous amount of native talent. Awakening, the third recording of Simon's compositions, not only features outstanding performances by the cream of New York's Capital Region jazz scene, but also well-written, memorable tunes that make this album an exciting listening experience.

The extraordinary group of musicians who appear on Awakenings include pianist Adrian Cohen, guitarist George Muscatello, bassist Mike DelPrete, drummer Danny Whelchel, saxophonist Kevin Barcomb, and trumpeter/flugelhornist Peter Bellino. Simon has the musicians perform in varying combinations, ranging from sextet to trio, giving each number a distinct identity. Standing out particularly is the rhythm section of Cohen, DelPrete, and Whelchel. Having performed together on both of Cohen's own albums, this group plays together with ease, their communication subtle and natural. Guitarist Muscatello appears on three of the nine performances, adding his understated but clear tone to the proceedings. It comes as no surprise to learn that Muscatello has performed with this rhythm section on numerous other occasions.

Saxophonist Kevin Barcomb plays on six tracks, alternating between soprano and tenor sax. His light tone is pleasant and enlivens each number he plays on. Pete Bellino adds his distinctive trumpet and flugelhorn sound alternately on four tracks.

Each performer contributes equally to the overall success of the album, but it would all be for naught if it weren't for Simon's excellent compositions and arrangements. Under ordinary circumstances his work would be outstanding. Given that music is a second career, Simon's work becomes all the more remarkable. Each tune has a memorable melody and provides ample space for the soloists to stretch. The moods range from the sprightly title track to the meditative closer, "Woodlands." The cleverly titled "Cinco-Pation" plays with a tricky time signature and features a bold horn line during the head. The bouncy "On a Lark" (perhaps a tribute to Albany's Lark Street) features magnificent solos from Bellino and Barcomb, while the two trio numbers feature beautiful work by Cohen, DelPrete, and Whelchel. Drummer Danny Whelchel deserves special mention; an incredible drummer who plays with great skill and subtlety, he is heard all over the Capital District, and deserves to be heard more widely.

Randy Simon's Jazz Project is a rousing success. Hopefully, there will be more of Simon in years to come.


Track Listing: Awakening; Cinco-Pation; Spring Forward; Reach For It; Yellowstone; Empty Nest; On a Lark; Cleanup; Woodland.

Personnel: Randy Simon: composer, arranger; Danny Whelchel: drums; Adrian Cohen: piano; Kevin Barcomb: saxophones; Mike DelPrete: bass; Pete Bellino: brass; George Muscatello: guitar.

Title: Awakening | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Solid Gold CD/LP/Track Review Solid Gold
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Ts'iibil Chaaltun CD/LP/Track Review Ts'iibil Chaaltun
by Don Phipps
Published: January 15, 2018
Read One Night in Indy CD/LP/Track Review One Night in Indy
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 15, 2018
Read A Sky You Could Strike a Match On CD/LP/Track Review A Sky You Could Strike a Match On
by Patrick Burnette
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Open Borders CD/LP/Track Review Open Borders
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 14, 2018
Read can't believe, won't believe CD/LP/Track Review can't believe, won't believe
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 14, 2018
Read "Triloka: Music for Strings and Soloists" CD/LP/Track Review Triloka: Music for Strings and Soloists
by Marithe Van der Aa
Published: May 7, 2017
Read "Beyond the Moon" CD/LP/Track Review Beyond the Moon
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 12, 2017
Read "Daylight Ghosts" CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Dirt In The Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Dirt In The Ground
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 13, 2017
Read "Neko" CD/LP/Track Review Neko
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 25, 2017
Read "You Already Know" CD/LP/Track Review You Already Know
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 7, 2017