Criss Cross Jazz Roundup: Part Two

C. Andrew Hovan By

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Part 1 | Part 2

At a time when the record industry seems poised on the edge of a major collapse, especially in terms of its return on jazz product, it's the small labels that continue to keep the music fresh and alive. Talk about Sharp Nine, Reservoir, HighNote/Savant, MaxJazz and several others and you're talking producers who are willing to take a chance on music that they personally find rewarding even while knowing that sales figures in the long run will be modest at best.

But even before these guys hit the neighborhood, the Dutch Criss Cross Jazz label was there documenting some of the finest young talent out of New York. Fortunately, the label still thrives and is one of the few that can say the majority of their healthy-sized catalog still remains in print and available.

Here in the second of two parts, we take a brief look at some of the latest offerings from Criss Cross Jazz.

Victor Goines
Love Dance
Criss Cross Jazz

Most often remembered by his stay with Lincoln Center and his work with Wynton Marsalis, Victor Goines is a gifted woodwind player equally adept on the many saxophones as well as clarinet. One can hear shades of the great modern tenor men such as Benny Golson and Sonny Rollins, but upon closer inspection you can also detect the influence of swing masters like Paul Gonsalves and Paul Quinichette. It's Rollins that comes easily to mind on the opening "Wonderful, Wonderful, a brisk opening romp that sits squarely within the tradition.

But don't get too comfortable in pegging Goines' modus operandi, because he quickly turns around with a romantic take on the Ivan Lins standard "Love Dance, his clarinet speaking in dulcet tones which recall those of Jimmy Hamilton. Goines' own pieces show the signs of a budding composer of some merit and strapping support from pianist Peter Martin, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Greg Hutchinson help make this set a total success.

Joel Weiskopf
Devoted To You
Criss Cross Jazz

A central part of his brother Walt's many recordings for Criss Cross, pianist Joel Weiskopf possesses a chameleon like approach to music in terms of his adaptability to any situation. His brother's music can be seen as a forward-thinking advance on the hard bop sensibilities of saxophonist John Coltrane, while Joel's own recordings have sought a more spiritual and reflective stance that is no less rewarding.

Joel's most recent set is a return to the piano trio format and leans heavily on pieces from his own pen. Drummer Eric Harland is the obvious choice for this kind of recital in that he is a highly interactive drummer who fills in the spaces with ornately variegated rhythms. Many of tunes stray from swing in a conventional sense going for a straight eighth note or bossa type of groove, most notably on a recasting of the venerable "A Mighty Fortress.

Alex Sipiagin
Criss Cross Jazz

Active on the New York scene for almost two decades now, trumpeter Alex Sipiagin must be somewhat of a personal favorite of Criss Cross producer Gerry Teekens as he has released a steady stream of albums for the label over the past several years, with the present set being his latest submission. Often heard in many large ensembles including the big band of bassist Dave Holland, Sipiagin is a strong voice in terms of his technical facility, but also in terms of the way he pushes boundaries, both as a player and a composer.

Like most of Sipiagin's previous efforts, much of the music here is his own and frequent partner saxophonist Chris Potter helps make for a sturdy front line. The pair often speaks in craggy and serpentine lines like on the aptly named "Bumpy Road. David Kikoski uses the Fender Rhodes on several of the tracks, giving the pieces a progressive groove and a sound not unlike the current work of trumpeter Dave Douglas. Sipiagin's way of thinking comes into shaper focus with a listen to his reworking of Thelonious Monk's "Epistrophy, a mix of odd meter statements and a toss up of various rhythms for the duration. Drummer Antonio Sanchez is an obvious advantage in this type of setting and Potter continues his strong showing as one of the players to watch these days.

Adonis Rose
On the Verge
Criss Cross Jazz

Finally, we come to one of the best albums of the year and a recital that is receiving somewhat of a delayed appearance. Recorded in 2003, this is the third of drummer Adonis Rose's sets for Criss Cross and it's definitely his best thanks to superb writing and selfless leadership in service of the music. Nicholas Payton and Tim Warfield are easily one the most memorable trumpet-tenor leads of modern times and Rose makes the most of their burnished amber tones with smoky lines that float with an elegant grace. Both versions of "Robin In Pink are poetry in motion, making a strong case for less being so much more.

The title track is the centerpiece of the set, its resolute pulse bringing forth a catharsis of sorts from all hands on deck. Like many of the tracks, it also offers a strong showing from up and coming vibraphonist Warren Wolf, a name that we'll hopefully be hearing more from in the near future. On The Verge makes up in spades for its belated debut and is one the finest examples of the current state of progressive jazz.

Tracks and Personnel

Love Dance

Tracks: Wonderful, Wonderful; Love Dance; New Arrival; Cootie; Sunrise; Confirmation; Midnight; Out The Box; Home.

Personnel: Victor Goines: saxophone and clarinet; Peter Martin: piano; Reuben Rogers: bass; Greg Hutchinson:drums.

Devoted To You

Tracks: Beauty For Ashes; Devoted To You; Giving Thanks; November; St. Denio; The Strongest Love; You Must Believe In Spring; Wondrous Love; A Mighty Fortress; One Bright Morning.

Personnel: Joel Weiskopf: piano; John Patitucci: bass; Eric Harland: drums.


Tracks: Path; Bumpy Road; Prints; Mood 3; Epistrophy; Orbit; For You.

Personnel: Alex Sipiagin: trumpet; Chris Potter: tenor saxophone; David Kikoski: piano; Scott Colley: bass; Antonio Sanchez: drums; Monday Michiru: flute.

On The Verge

Tracks: Robin In Pink I; Liyah's Blues; Lies In Beauty; Shed; Gingerbread Boy; Robin In Pink II; On The Verge; Shades Of Light.

Personnel: Adonis Rose: drums; Nicholas Payton: trumpet; Tim Warfield: saxophone; Warren Wolf: vibes; Aaron Goldberg: piano; Reuben Rogers: bass.


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