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Do they still give out Grammy Awards for best cover art? If so, here's a nominee: a peaceful retriever in repose, chin on the floor, captured in a sanguine tone on Matt Jorgensen + 451's Hope.
A great cover, of course, does not a successful CD make. It's the music.
The music on Hope a sax and rhythm section outing with additional sax on five of the eleven tunes, with the warm tones of a trombone on anotherfalls into that familiar yet foreign sound, sort of traditional, but quite progressive, too. Drummer Matt Jorgensen seems as influenced by rock as he is by jazz. Coldplay's "God Put A Smile On Your Face" gets a forward-looking jazz treatment, with keyboardist Ryan Burns pulling wah- wah guitar sounds out of the ether, or maybe it's his Fender Rhodes, though I've never heard those sounds from one before. Or maybe it's added electronics. Not that it matters; two sax partsboth by Mark Taylordance in front of a driving beat on a simple yet compelling melody.
The title tuneseparated into three parts, slipped into the mix at three different spots in the setbegins with Part 1, sounding ethereal, with a spiritual Indian feel; Part 3 hums into a drone-like atmosphere with bowed bass and a distant rumble of percussion: and Part 2, that closes the disc, opens with a sitar-ish hum into which Mark Taylor's sax whispers.
"Slinky" opens the set on a tight groove, plaintive sax in front of a churning Elvin Jones-ish rhythm, while "Pack Sack" rides a subtler groove, with the leader's drum work bringing the great Chico Hamilton to mind. A solid set of sounds, start-to-finish, a nice mix of originals and covers, with Mingus's "Fables of Faubus" taking things to the raucous end of the spectrum, and the dream-state Hope parts punctuating the more traditional-sounding tunes perfectly. Flip the CD cover over and even the dog is perked up and listening.
Track Listing: Slinky, God Put A Smile On Your Face, Hope, part 1, Che, Pack Sack, Peacefulness, Hope, part 3, Sanguine, Fables of Faubus, Ibrahymn, Hope, part 2
Personnel: Mark Taylor—alto and tenor saxophones; Ryan Burns—piano and Fender rhodes; Phil Sparks—bass; Matt Jorgensen—drums, Rob Davis—tenor sax (4); Hans Teuber—tenor Sax (1,7,9,10); David Marriot—trombone (10)
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.