There are two ways of looking at Hubub!, pianist Ted Kooshian's fifth album as leader. The first is, "nothing new here"; and the second, "everything is new here." On the one hand, Kooshian's able quintet hews closely to the post-bop canon which has given rise to its fabric; on the other, they do so within the framework of Kooshian's bright and engaging melodies, none of which seems commonplace or shopworn.
Kooshian wrote nine of the album's eleven sunlit numbers and co-wrote (with Judy Barnett) the lone vocal, "Hymn for Her," nicely sung by Jim Mola. The outlier is "Somewhere," Leonard Bernstein's heart-wrenching ballad from West Side Story. Included are salutes to a pair of Kooshian's onscreen heroes, Steve "McQueen" and William "Shatner," and another to free-jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman (the blustery "Tornetto").
Violinist Katie Jacoby and cellist Summer Boggess enlarge the group on "Hymn to Her," and Jacoby performs again on the aberrant and throbbing "McQueen," on which David Silliman adds percussion, as he does on the more celestial but no less rhythmic "Shatner." Besides those tributes, there are themes inspired by Kooshian's hectic time in New York City ("Hubub"), by his pet dog ("SparkplugShe Came to Play"), and by a visit with his wife to Holland ("Wandelen," "Schiermonnikoog"). "Desert Island Tracks" nods to a music fan's can't-live-without list, while "Space Train" explores territory previously staked out by Kooshian's Standard Orbit Quartet.
Kooshian is a talented pianist who solos and comps with assurance. Trumpeter John Bailey's solos are consistently sharp and engaging, whereas tenor saxophonist Jeff Lederer's are more uneven, with lows offsetting some highs. He is especially clamorous (as is everyone else including Kooshian playing electric piano) on the electronically enhanced "McQueen." Bassist Dick Sarpola and drummer Greg Joseph are calmly efficient, doing for the most part what needs to be done. An admirable session, given a more expressive voice thanks to Kooshian's winning way with a melody and forceful blowing by all hands.
Hubub; Wandelen; Sparkplug-She Came to Play; Somewhere; Schiermonnikoog; Tornetto; Hymn
for Her; Desert Island
Tracks; Space Train; McQueen; Shatner.
| Year Released: 2022
| Record Label: Summit Recoreds
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