Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

11

Steve Messick: Endemic Ensemble: Tangled

Paul Rauch By

Sign in to view read count
Veteran composer/bassist Steve Messick has brought back the eclectic group of musicians he formed in 2010, Endemic Ensemble, for a new album entitled Tangled. The session presents nine new compositions, three each from Messick, pianist David Franklin, and saxophonist Matso Limtiaco. The ensemble, rounded out by drummer Christian Krehbiel, and noted saxophonist Travis Ranney, have created an album of solid compositions and arrangements, skillfully crafted in the big band tradition, but presented more with a hard bop edge.

Two of the composers in Endemic Ensemble have roots in large ensemble,or big band jazz, Messick with Orchestra Seattle, and with Limtiaco in the Emerald City Jazz Orchestra. Travis Ranney plays tenor in the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, and is truly the soloist that elevates the performance of this solid, swinging, straight ahead combo. The utilization of low tones from both baritone and tenor sax, without brass, is an interesting and notable approach taken by Messick in forming this ensemble, that provides the unique identity that keeps the listener engaged. Indeed, if as a listener you have preference for a more polyrhythmic or rubato approach, this is not the record for you.

Throughout these nine closely crafted compositions, the rhythm section is solid, relying on a straight ahead approach, from which the soloists outside of Ranney take little advantage. While the performance portrayed on this album comes across as very capable and professional, it expresses a feel more emanating from an academic technical approach, at times lacking the spontaneity and adventuresome spirit of the bandstand. One might get the feeling the musicians need to break free of the tether the studio provides, and the recording process assures, and delve into the creative world influenced by real life in club dates and jam sessions. There appears to be a lot of life yet to inject into this project.

The opening salvo, Messick's "Sugar Ant," opens with an Ellington like theme, the beautiful metered arrangement leading to a strikingly Johnny Hodges like solo by Ranney, utilizing the upper register of his tenor in an alto like voice. The baritone of Limtiaco follows with a deep blue solo, leading into a spirited exchange with Ranney, accentuating the beautiful tonal colors the baritone/tenor combination offers.

Pianist Franklin displays his "not afraid to swing" piano style, with his composition, the title track, "Tangled." Following a riveting latin intro, the sax combination of Ranney and Limtiaco carries the melody line into Franklin's lovely solo. Ranney once again displays his skills as the combo's premier soloist. His offering on this number begins as a duo with Messick, building into a trio adding drums, and then shifting into overdrive with the full rhythm section supporting a meteoric solo that stands out ultimately as the creative thread for the true jazz listener throughout these nine compositions.

Messick's "The Snort," personifies perfectly the overall sound he was searching for in assembling this unique instrumentation, and envisioning these equally unique personalities. Though the baritone of Limtiaco will never be compared to bop master Gary Smulyan, or baritone legends Pepper Adams and Gerry Mulligan, his ensemble playing, elegant soloing and thick monster baritone, is the low end counter weight of this music.

Limtiaco's "Tolovana Stomp," is the album's most intoxicating melody, harmony and arrangement. The lively and inspired energy is drenched in the entire jazz tradition. Ranney's solo flows like spring runoff cascading over the rhythm's break, swinging hard, with Messick's bass line providing the backbone and pulse, from stomp to swing and back.

Mr. Limtiaco does not stop there. The album's dynamic finale, "Retro," is his as well, and is perhaps the most memorable melody of the session. Writing a piece for this ensemble from the perspective of the baritone saxophone, seems to be fitting. Playing with wit and tonal elegance, Limtiaco combines with Ranney to play with a feel reminiscent of the classic works of Thad Jones and Mel Lewis. Travis Ranney plays through the changes with probing intelligence, stretching the harmonic structure of the composition every which way, finalizing his status as the true pearl of this entire recording. Messick's inventive bass solo is a treat, his beautiful intonation clearly expressing the tonal originality of the piece.

Tangled is a solid effort from this evolving ensemble. Messick's vision is one that needs to continue forward on its journey. It is clear that the band is a complement of skilled composers, and musicians, who have an ever expansive narrative to share. Let's hope we have the opportunity to see them live on the bandstand in the near future. The fine writing and pedigree of musicianship demands the exploration and introspection only live interpretive performance can provide. For that, I anxiously look forward.

Track Listing: Sugar Ant; Tangled; The Snort; Change of Scenery; The Tolovana Stomp; Maui Chimes; Goodbye, Old Friend; Nassau Place; Retro

Personnel: Steve Messick: bandleader, double bass; Travis Ranney: tenor and soprano saxophones; Matso Limtiaco: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; David Franklin: piano; Christian Krehbiel: drums

Title: Endemic Ensemble: Tangled | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Acknowledgement CD/LP/Track Review Acknowledgement
by Don Phipps
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Lessons And Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review Lessons And Fairytales
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 23, 2017
Read The Child in Me CD/LP/Track Review The Child in Me
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: November 23, 2017
Read The Way Home CD/LP/Track Review The Way Home
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Shadow Work CD/LP/Track Review Shadow Work
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Veterans of Jazz CD/LP/Track Review Veterans of Jazz
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 22, 2017
Read "Floating City" CD/LP/Track Review Floating City
by James Nadal
Published: March 9, 2017
Read "The Rhythm Method" CD/LP/Track Review The Rhythm Method
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 14, 2017
Read "Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960" CD/LP/Track Review Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 29, 2017
Read "A Sleepin' Bee" CD/LP/Track Review A Sleepin' Bee
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 3, 2017
Read "Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert" CD/LP/Track Review Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 24, 2017
Read "Pandora's Bag" CD/LP/Track Review Pandora's Bag
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 25, 2017

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!

Please support out sponsor