Sail twenty miles up the Hudson River from New York City and you find Hastings-On-The-Hudson, a vibrant artists' colony situated on the river's shore. Among the town's artists you'll find jazz pianist David Janeway
, a New York City transplant via Detroit, Michigan. The Hastings Jazz Collective is Janeway's brainchild. He presents the all-star group's debut with Shadow Dances
. Though he claims the title "musical director" of this contemporary mainstream jazz quintet, he also stresses the "leaderless aspect" of the group's approachon this eight-track album, three parts jazz cover band, five parts composers' workshop for himself and his bandmates.
"Blackbird," from the Beatles songbook, get its fair share of covers (drummer Tony Williams
and pianist Brad Mehldau
, among many others). The tune serves as the opener for Shadow Dances
. This take is on the darker, more mysterious side, opening with Janeway's gorgeous, pensive piano intro. Saxophonist Tim Armacost
plays the melody in straightforward fashion, with his characteristically bold, burnished tone. Earl Zinder's "How My Heart Sings," inspired in part perhaps by pianist Bill Evans
' 1962 take on the tune, is a gregarious, energetic, reaching-for-the-stars rendition, with a sinuous guitar solo by Jay Azzolina. Wayne Shorter
's "Edda" showcasesamong other soundsa high octane piano solo by Janeway, and, as always, a clean and seamless group dynamic.
Covers aside, the album offers up one composition per band member, as per the composers' collective mandate: drummer Ron Vincent
's "Question Mark" with its hot groove momentum; bassist Harvie S
's shape-shifting "Courage," guitarist Azzolina's sizzling, then ebb and flow "MEG," saxophonist Armacost's soulful funk-fest, "Blueslike," and the title tune from David Janeway's pen, an engaging composition in the finest tradition of the modern jazz genre.