Tacoma, Washington-based saxophonist Cliff Colon takes his inspiration where he finds it. In the case of his debut CD, Contraband, the inspiration comes from music of the 1980's side-scrolling, run and gun, eight-bit video game called Contra, which seems an unlikely source.
But unlikely sources are pretty common in the jazz genreMiles Davis' reading of "Surrey with the Fringe on Top," taken from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, "Oklahoma," John Coltrane's classic take on "My Favorite Things," Sonny Rollins blowing "I'm An Old Cowhand," or, to bring things up to the present, Brad Mehldau's twenty-plus minute rendition of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun." The list goes onjazz artists grab their ideas from all over the place.
Colon has taken the soundtrack of the video game (tunes penned by Kyohei Sada and Hidenori Maezawa) and re-worked it into the jazz format with a high-energy sizzle of soundtwo blistering saxophones in front of a hot piano Rhodes/guitar/bass/drums rhythm.
A good portion of the disc fits the 'stamp the accelerator to floor' mode, beginning with the barn-burner, "Jungle." That gives way to a 'prowling the dark streets' vibe of "Base," featuring a couple of fiery and eloquent sax solos.
The music is inspired and modern-sounding from start to finish, with a highlight, "Snow Field," at nearly ten minutesthe longest cut on the disc. The tune builds a rather ominous ensemble momentum from a drifting rumble to a saxophone blow-fest that segues into a Rhodes piano rumination, then back to the edgy intricacies of the sax-led sound.
Cliff Colon's excellent recording debut, Contraband, comes out wailingfirst-rate jazz.
Track Listing: Intro; Jungle; Base; The Boss; Waterfall; Snow Field; Energy Zone; Alien Lair; End Credits.
Personnel: Cliff Colon: tenor sax; J. Charles: alto sax; Frank Seeberger: guitar; Eric Verlinde: Rhodes piano, Hammond organ; Chuck Kistler: bass; D'Vonne Lewis: drums.
Year Released: 2008
| Record Label: Hey Phil! Records
| Style: Modern Jazz
I grew up listening to my father's jazz records and listening to the radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy
I grew up listening to my father's jazz records and listening to the radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy. So music and jazz specifically have been a part of me since I was born. I love and perform in all styles of music from around the world. Improvisation in jazz is what drew me in, and still does as well as other genres that feature improvisation. A group of great musicians expressing themselves as one is the hallmark of great jazz and in fact all great music.