While it may be tempting to simply call Dialectics a straight-ahead session, Kevin Sun's liner notes set the record straight: According to Sun, "neo-hard bop" is a more accurate term for this music. What's most important to note, however, is that the music is pretty irresistible, regardless of what you call it.
On the sophomore album from Curtis Nowosad, the drummer delivers an invigorating program of music with a killer quintet born out of the Winnipeg native's time spent studying at the University of Manitoba. This group got together regularly over a three year period starting in 2009, when saxophonist Jimmy Greene was still teaching at that institution. Nowosad is now a New Yorker and, as many know, Greene left The University of Manitoba to move to Connecticut, but this band didn't run out of steam because of those moves: Nowosad's group recently toured Canada sans Greene, and the whole band got together in Winnipeg in June of 2014 to record this album.
The nine numbers on Dialectics seem to fly by. Tight arrangements, thrilling solos, and memorable melodies all help to make for a pleasant listening experience. Nowosad demonstrates his compositional skills, arranging savvy, and drumming acumen throughout. There's a high-energy, rhythmically-revised take on a Wayne Shorter classic ("Speak No Evil"); an original blues that sounds like it could've been in Art Blakey's book ("A Casual Test"); an Afro-Cuban twist on a Thelonious Monk number ("Bye-Ya"), influenced by Nowosad's studies with Bobby Sanabria at the Manhattan School of Music; and a funky number that gives Nowosad, Greene, and trumpeter Derrick Gardner some space to blow ("Dialectics"). Nowosad also delivers the requisite ballad ("Reconciliation"), voiced through the horns and guided by pianist Will Bonness, and the expected waltz ("Gleaning & Dreaming"), though it departs from expectations by vacillating between three and five.
Nowosad, Greene, Gardner, Bonness, and bassist Steve Kirby have a good thing going here. These men have real musical chemistry, not the fabricated camaraderie that comes with so many jazz releases today. While it will likely be difficult for Nowosad to keep this group going, here's to hoping that he does.
Speak No Evil; Empirically Speaking; Dialectics; 159 & St. Nick; A Casual Test; Reconciliation; Bye-Ya; Gleaning & Dreaming; I Remember You.
Curtis Nowosad: drums; Jimmy Greene: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Derrick Gardner: trumpet; Steve Kirby: acoustic bass; Will Bonness: piano.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.
African Jazz Beyond Jazz Big Band Blues Brazilian Classical Dixieland / New Orleans / Swing Electronica Free Improv / Avant-Garde Fringes of Jazz Funk / Groove Fusion / Progressive Rock Hot Jazz Jam Band Latin Lounge / Exotica Modern Jazz R&B / Soul Straight-ahead (Bop, Hard bop, Cool) Vocal