The perils of pedantry and self-righteousness have toppled more than a few pairings of music and politics. Saxophonist Scott Rosenberg seems cognizant of these dangers. The liners of his new CIMP album are infused with political indignation, but he wisely refrains from allowing these emotions to hijack his music. Instead, the targets of his irespecifically the Bush Administration and its continually accruing gaffesreceive a sound admonishing through the subtle verities of nine lyrics-free compositions. The acronym-like titles are never explained.
Rosenberg's partnersthirty-somethings like himself, save drummer Tim Daisyappear to share the leader's convictions. Together they make a responsive team. Where they falter slightly is in the emulative nature of their shared free bop sound. "Califa" ambles along at a Faubus-like lope, punctuated by sped-up interludes between solos. Margasak blows cool while Rosenberg's horn favors a more agitated style of articulation flecked with reed pops and rankled intervallics. "ADSTDR" employs the same trick of numerous tempo shifts and in the process ends up sounding similar to what preceded it in the program. Even Rosenberg's solo follows a similar tack, starting slow but quickly sprouting thorns. Margasak contrasts prominently, favoring a quicksilver phrasing that parcels notes with economy and precision. Daisy's solo comes across as almost textbook in its polite attention martial beats coaxed from snare. Fortunately he limbers up on later tracks.
With "OHS II" the quartet finds its emotional stride, a pace they sustain for much of the album's remainder. Rosenberg's opening tenor oratory taps an emotional vein, lacing urgent phrases with an acrid vibrato akin to Brötzmann. Daisy's rolling mallets complete the somber sonic picture. Margasak's cornet voices calmer, less querulous tonalities, his bright note-chains bracketed by the swollen tones of Hernandez's bass. The drummer once again brings up the rear, pattering away on brushes before switching back to bustling sticks for a culminating send-off. The remainder of the program favors fast- paced boppish sorties built around darting heads and lubricious tempo shifts. All allow for ample solo statements from the horns. Quite often Hernandez and Daisy receive their share too.
The political trappings of the music manifest most noticeably in the tension that fuels most of the pieces. Intense roiling interplay on "JTY" and "RRMTRRM" comes closest to capturing this sort of impassioned ideological insurgency, but there are other places where it seems a pale facsimile of earlier political provocateurs like Shepp and Roach. Still, the chosen restraint works better overall. It allows Rosenberg and his partners to place the music front and center without resorting to badly calculated bleeding heart entreaties. The album as a whole feels a bit derivative, but it's still an enjoyable outing by four youngish improvisers who will hopefully find more opportunities to convene in front of the mics, in the Spirit Room or elsewhere.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.