88

Mike Fahn: Close Your Eyes... and Listen

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Mike Fahn: Close Your Eyes... and Listen I first heard valve trombonist Mike Fahn some years ago on an album led by the wonderful tenor saxophonist Bob Cooper and was duly impressed. "There’s a player to watch," I said to myself. Great chops, lovely sound, quick reflexes, singular voice. Been watching ever since but apart from occasional appearances as a sideman on others’ albums I’d heard little from Fahn until Close Your Eyes... and Listen arrived in the mail.

Fahn moved (or, more accurately, returned) to NYC in ’93 with his wife, bassist Mary Ann McSweeney, and has stayed busy while keeping a relatively low profile, touring with Tom Harrell and Bill Mobley, working with his own groups and teaching in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Jazz for Teens program. Although Fahn released an album called Steppin’ Out back in ’89, he says he considers Close Your Eyes his bona fide debut.

Having closed my eyes... and listened (of course!), I am happy to report that there is much about the album to admire. Fahn is as expressive and nimble as ever, he and tenor Rick Margitza form a compatible front line (on tracks 2, 4, 6, 8), guitarist Steve Cardenas (1, 3, 5–7) is tasteful and melodic, while pianist Charles Blenzig, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Tim Horner furnish ample rhythmic muscle without getting in anyone’s way (I’m especially fond of Horner’s alert and adaptable approach).

What is missing, to these ears, are any songs (except the last one) that produce more than a lukewarm impression. The two by Anderson (the snappy “Will Call,” boppish “On Time”) come closest. The others, McSweeney’s “Without Changes,” Margitza’s “Heart Forest,” Keith Jarrett’s “Survivor’s Suite” and two others co-authored by Fahn and McSweeney (“The Burren,” “Get Sparky”), are nicely written but lack whatever it takes to inscribe them in one’s memory for more than a moment or two.

On the other hand, they do give everyone generous blowing space, and that’s a good thing, as Fahn and his colleagues are first-class improvisers. Blenzig’s synth lends an ethereal quality to “Changes,” while Fahn introduces “The Burren” (inspired by beautiful cliffs he and McSweeney saw while traveling in Ireland) with a lovely a cappella “chorale” produced by overdubbing slide trombones.

Fahn says he conceived the album as a showcase for his range, and in that goal he has succeeded, as he has in establishing “an over-all aura of dark reverie,” underlined especially by “Changes,” “Survivor’s Suite,” “Heart Forest” and “The Burren.” Thoughtful pieces all, and well worth the time it takes to appraise them. An exemplary album for those who don’t need unrelenting fireworks to command their attention.

Contact: Sparky 1 Productions, 817 Greenwood Avenue, #2, Brooklyn, NY 11218. Phone 718-437-7333; e-mail mjfsparky1@aol.com; web site, www.mikefahn.com. Distributed also by North Country, Cadence Building, Redwood, NY 13679-9612; phone 315-287-2852; e-mail slim@cadencebuilding.com. Web site, www.cadencebuilding.com

Track Listing: Without Changes; Will Call; Survivor

Personnel: Mike Fahn, valve trombone, slide trombone overdub (5); Rick Margitza (2, 4, 6, 8), tenor sax; Steve Cardenas (1, 3, 5-7), guitar; Charles Blenzig, piano (4, 8), synth (1, 3, 6, 7); Jay Anderson, bass; Tim Horner, drums.

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Sparky 1 Productions | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Petite Afrique CD/LP/Track Review Petite Afrique
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 29, 2017
Read Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite CD/LP/Track Review Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 29, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 29, 2017
Read Soul Garden CD/LP/Track Review Soul Garden
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 29, 2017
Read The Authorized Bang Collection CD/LP/Track Review The Authorized Bang Collection
by Doug Collette
Published: April 29, 2017
Read Cross My Palm With Silver CD/LP/Track Review Cross My Palm With Silver
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read "East West Daydreams" CD/LP/Track Review East West Daydreams
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Silent Light" CD/LP/Track Review Silent Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "You'll See" CD/LP/Track Review You'll See
by Chris Mosey
Published: June 27, 2016
Read "Copenhagen Diaries" CD/LP/Track Review Copenhagen Diaries
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: May 8, 2016
Read "Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny" CD/LP/Track Review Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 13, 2016
Read "Prairie Burn" CD/LP/Track Review Prairie Burn
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 9, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!