All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Record Label Profiles

408

Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
The launch of Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records in the Spring of 2008 was a clear indication of the sign of the times where musicians are taking control of their own destinies, creating labels that are autonomous and imaginatively focused on their own ideas. A point of interest is that BJURecords is a sister company of the Brooklyn Jazz Underground formed in January 2007—a collective of forward thinking, talented bandleaders, that includes names such as trombonist Alan Ferber, violist/violinist Tanya Kalmanovitch and saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh.

The initiative found in BJURecords' mission statement—"to put out quality recordings that define the shape of today's jazz,"—is realized in the label's debut of three outstanding releases: Alexis Cuadrado—Puzzles, Anne Mette Iversen—Best of West (AMI & 4Corner String Quartet) + Many Places (AMI Quartet), and Bernard Emer Lackner Ferber—Night For Day. A diversity of music that is fully in tune with the musicians' environment, these releases should effectively put the fledgling label on the map for fans seeking creative improvised music.

Female bassist/composer, Anne Mette Iversen, delivers a double treat with a two disc set that illuminates her working quartet (saxophonist John Ellis, pianist Danny Grissett, and drummer Otis Brown III) with the 4Corners String Quartet on disc 1—Best of West and the AMI Quartet on disc 2—Many Places .

It's not a trivial task to pull off a jazz suite, let alone for double quartet, but Iversen's compositional fortitude, leadership and performance are impeccable. The string and jazz quartets work together harmoniously, articulating a work written in four movements based on traditional classical music forms: "East" (Allegro), "South" (Adagio), "West" (Menuet) and "North" (Presto). Best of West is a fine duality of contemporary jazz and classical influences, where discipline, tasteful flamboyance, deep composition, and creativity all coexist.

This same attention to detail is heard on Many Places albeit in a more intimate setting as each player expresses their individuality and oneness, showing why the inner workings of a "jazz quartet" is such a wondrous union. With this double release, Anne Mette Iversen is clearly one to watch and listen for.

Night For Day features the four member group of Will Bernard (guitar), Andrew Emer (bass), Benny Lackner (piano) and Mark Ferber (drums). While they are all coincidently Californians transplanted in NYC, who have lead their own bands and worked in various music backgrounds, what comes through vividly in this recording is a distinct "group sound" which is comprised of Bernard's blues and New Orleans influences, Emer and Lackner's free form compositions, and Ferber's in demand percussive drumming.

Trippy grooves, avant-gardism, attentive melodies, and some rigorous group interaction all coalesce into nine original/imaginative compositions including "Dry Tortugas" a shuffling blues vamped piece about a "drunk swaggering through the night," the chamber eloquence of "Pianohaus" written by Lackner in Germany at a piano store where he practiced, and unique cover of "Heaven" by composer/pianist Billy Strayhorn, which conveys an essence of timeless beauty. The music, like the album title, as Emer states is "open for interpretation... I see it is as the yin and yang or heaven and earth of music and art—night and day."

Born in Barcelona, Spain, bassist Alexis Cuadrado's Puzzles is his third as a leader. Bringing a variety of ideas in a cohesive and intriguing package, he enlists the help of some dynamic players—saxophonist Loren Stillman, guitarist Brad Shepik, drummer Mark Ferber, trombonist Alan Ferber (on three tracks) and Pete Rende (Hammond B3 organ, on one track). Like a jigsaw puzzle with its differing shapes and colors; when all of the pieces are put together, the recording gives a comprehensive portrait of Cuadrado's depth as a performer and composer.

The rock music dreamscape of "B&W Pop," where Rende's organ adds an atmospheric touch, the swinging "Abstract Rhythm," the surrealist abstract Fellini tribute song "8 & ½," and the brilliant "Quintessential" with its mini-suite format; are all strong individual pieces connected to a memorable body of work. The mood and tone varies on each track, keeping the listener intrigued; yet what is consistent, is the group-bond, revealed in exemplary performances that don't sound rushed or stifled, a perfect vehicle for musicians to express their music; which is exactly the objective of Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Hubro: Making Room for Marginalized Music Record Label Profiles
Hubro: Making Room for Marginalized Music
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 27, 2018
Read Origin Records: Creating Opportunities and Community Record Label Profiles
Origin Records: Creating Opportunities and Community
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: July 30, 2018
Read WEWANTSOUNDS: A Forgotten Don Cherry and Other Gems Record Label Profiles
WEWANTSOUNDS: A Forgotten Don Cherry and Other Gems
by Enrico Bettinello
Published: July 18, 2018
Read ears&eyes Records: From Chicago to the World Record Label Profiles
ears&eyes Records: From Chicago to the World
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Inner Circle Music: Creativity and Community Spirit Record Label Profiles
Inner Circle Music: Creativity and Community Spirit
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: February 17, 2016
Read HOOB Records: Ten Years Young Record Label Profiles
HOOB Records: Ten Years Young
by James Pearse
Published: December 22, 2015
Read "Hubro: Making Room for Marginalized Music" Record Label Profiles Hubro: Making Room for Marginalized Music
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 27, 2018
Read "Origin Records: Creating Opportunities and Community" Record Label Profiles Origin Records: Creating Opportunities and Community
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: July 30, 2018
Read "WEWANTSOUNDS: A Forgotten Don Cherry and Other Gems" Record Label Profiles WEWANTSOUNDS: A Forgotten Don Cherry and Other Gems
by Enrico Bettinello
Published: July 18, 2018
Read "Django Festival in Fontainbleu" Live Reviews Django Festival in Fontainbleu
by Martin McFie
Published: July 13, 2018
Read "Lisa Bjorange at Bullret Jazz Club" Live Reviews Lisa Bjorange at Bullret Jazz Club
by Patrick Burnette
Published: February 2, 2018
Read "Iglooghost Takes Brave Step Forward With Electronic EPs" Multiple Reviews Iglooghost Takes Brave Step Forward With Electronic EPs
by John Bricker
Published: September 17, 2018
Read "Destination South Africa (Part 1)" Radio Destination South Africa (Part 1)
by Ludovico Granvassu
Published: May 22, 2018
Read "John Sharpe's Best Releases Of 2017" Best of / Year End John Sharpe's Best Releases Of 2017
by John Sharpe
Published: December 28, 2017