271

Randy Simon Jazz Project: Awakening

By

Sign in to view read count
Randy Simon Jazz Project: Awakening 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

CD/LP/Track Review
Take Five With...
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read The Company I Keep CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ma De Re Sha CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ask Seek Knock CD/LP/Track Review Ask Seek Knock
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Air and Light and Time and Space CD/LP/Track Review Air and Light and Time and Space
by John Eyles
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Eleven Cages CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Cages
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Afro-Caribbean Mixtape CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "Conditions" CD/LP/Track Review Conditions
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 16, 2016
Read "The Magical Forest" CD/LP/Track Review The Magical Forest
by John Kelman
Published: August 4, 2016
Read "All L.A. Band" CD/LP/Track Review All L.A. Band
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 4, 2016
Read "Alchemist" CD/LP/Track Review Alchemist
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 1, 2017
Read "The Big Shake-Up" CD/LP/Track Review The Big Shake-Up
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "Landed in Brooklyn" CD/LP/Track Review Landed in Brooklyn
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 3, 2017

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.