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“Crazybird” represents a group of young, talented New York based modern jazz musicians led by saxophonist Adam Kolker. Kolker has sewn roots with the likes of Maria Schneider, Bobby Previte and others.
The set opens with an up-tempo take on Monk’s “Green Chimneys”. A New Orleans style shuffle beat adds a fresh twist while quickly transforming into a bump and grind swing bash. Drummer Jeff Ballard shines here and throughout with polyrhythmic force and ferocious swing. Ballard is also a member of the New York Jazz Collective and is a definite star on the rise! The exciting and technically gifted Tim Hagans takes a few choruses on the Trumpet generating scintillating dynamics while utilizing all registers of his horn. This may be the most explosive version of “Green Chimneys” this writer has heard. Kolker gets his solo space and makes every note a poignant and thoughtful statement. Kolker is very deliberate and employs a husky or brooding sound. His sensitive use of space suggests under statement and contrast. Young and much in demand session ace, pianist Kevin Hays adds his touch of melody, huge block chord progressions and fluid single note right hand runs. The r! hythm section of Ballard and bassist Doug Weiss dance and dart all over the place. Gershwin’s “Embraceable You” is given mystical and soothing treatment accented by Ballard’s subtle tom-tom work. Here, Kolker’s soft airy Tenor Sax indicates maturity and proficient control over his instrument. Kolker aims to “suggest” as opposed to engaging in laborious soloing and chops bravado. One of Kolker’s key attributes is to initiate brief flurries or statements yet maintaining impeccable intonation. Kolker’s original composition titled “Over Again” is a probing yet swinging piece featuring some fluent Soprano sax work. Six of the Eight tracks are Kolker originals showcasing his compositional might.
The general theme is upbeat and colorful. These cats are tight yet perform with a loose feel. “Crazybird” is a notch or two above most of the post-bop modern jazz that has saturated the market. Kolker and co. distinguish themselves in persuasive fashion. Recommended.
Adam Kolker; Tenor, Soprano Saxes, Bass Clarinet: Tim Hagans; Trumpet: Kevin Hays; Piano: Doug Weiss; Bass: Jeff Ballard; Drums http:// www.challenge.nl
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.