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Chris Rottmayer: Being


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Chris Rottmayer: Being
Pianist Chris Rottmayer has been a valued presence in the Madison, Wisconsin jazz scene for some time, both as a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin and as the leader of a couple of well-conceived albums. His Sunday at Pilars (Pilars, 2019) and So in Love (self-released, 2020) reveal a self-assured musician who can handle classic repertoire with authority. But his latest effort, Being, ups the ante by offering a collection of his own compositions, in this instance animated by his study of Mulgrew Miller's recordings with the Woody Shaw Quintet. Joined by the eminently capable Russ Johnson on trumpet, Rufus Reid on bass and Matthew Endres on drums, the results are an accomplished set of music, with a respectful nod to both Miller and Shaw that still bears Rottmayer's distinctive voice.

One can hear the harmonic adventure in this music from the outset, with the creative "On the Street Where Woody Lives" kicking things off with a restatement of Shaw's own take on "On Green Dolphin Street," which he dubbed "Green St. Caper." Both Rottmayer and Johnson provide scintillating solos that skillfully probe the nuances of the tune, while Reid and Endres swing hard and give the piece its sinewy momentum. Similar re-workings are found on "Re-United," a reconceived iteration of Wayne Shorter's "United," and "Song of Modes," which adapts Shaw's "Song of Songs" by delving into its modal intricacies to find new insights.

On tracks like "Pigalle" and "Pont Neuf" Rottmayer puts a bit more distance between himself and Shaw/Miller, limning Paris-inspired tracks that evoke the city's charms with a stirring emotional vibrancy—particularly on the former track, a gorgeous ballad highlighting Johnson's fluency in a more subdued register. "Autumn Evening" is just as beautiful, this time with Rottmayer's own delicate touch in the foreground.

"Rue des Lombards" ends the album with gusto, a medium-tempo romp that confirms the quartet's sympathetic dedication to its forebears, while still crafting music that is indisputably in the moment.

Track Listing

On the Street Where Woody Lives; Re-United; Pigalle; Châtelet; Autumn Evening; Song of Modes; Ballerina Dance; La Seizième; Pont Neuf; Rue des Lombards.


Album information

Title: Being | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Shifting Paradigm Records



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