New York pianist and keyboardist Ted Kooshian continues his love affair with classic TV, cartoon themes and the pop scene, on Hubub!
, offering a selection of striking originals influenced by his "enthusiastic love for pop culture," which includes tributes to actors Steve McQueen and William Shatner of Star Trek
fame. The album's sole standard is Leonard Bernstein
's classic "Somewhere" from the West Side Story
play, distinguishing this version from so many others with an atypically jaunty arrangement from the pianist.
To better understand and appreciate the music on this remarkable album, one should know that though now based in New York City, Kooshian was born in San Jose, California, and was raised in the Bay Area. where he was exposed to all of the cultural and musical influences that have formed and impacted the creative style of jazz he produces. Perhaps this is one of the reasons he is so unique.
Kooshian assembles a group of long-time collaborators, all seasoned musicians with whom he has worked on previous projects. The cast features trumpeter John Bailey
, bassist Dick Sarpola
, tenor saxophonist Jeff Lederer
who has appeared on all of Kooshian's recordingsdrummer Greg Joseph
and percussionist Dave Silliman
The title track, penned in 1992, starts the music rolling with a little help from his friends, Lederer and trumpeter Bailey on spritely solos as the funky, high-spirited piece kicks the music into high gear. In contrast to the opener, "Wandelen," which translates to "walking" in Dutch, it is a more laid-back and gentle tune bringing back memories of several Dutch Islands. One of the North Sea Islands Kooshian and wife visited was "Schiemonnikoog," which inspired the pianist's piece of the same name, offering a bluesy-flavored rollicking burner.
Holding down the soft spot on the set is the gorgeous "Hymn for Her," a love ballad with vocals from Jim Mola
accompanied by Katie Jacoby
on the violin and the leader on warm keys. A tune with perhaps the best melody of the session is "Desert Island Tracks" featuring bold solo moments from the saxophonist, sturdy drumming and superb piano work in a bid from the leader in hoping that this track, would be on someone's desert island picks.
"Space Train" lifts the music up into terrain Kooshian has previously explored with his cosmic Standard Orbit Quartet and features some of the best solo excursions from tenor man Lederer. The leader's homage to actor Steve McQueen follows, with "McQueen," much in the same texture as "Space Train" but, not as spacy as the finale tribute to the Star Trek
actor "Shatner," where Kooshian plays the electric piano to help this atmospheric piece of stellar music become one of the highlights of the album.
Pianist Ted Kooshian's talents as a composer are on display here where he crafts another "commotion" of an album, another "excitement" of a session in successfully engineering a call answering the question, what's all the Hubub!
about? The answer: it's "all about jazz" in a unique vehicle that only Kooshian knows how to drive.
Hubub; Wandelen; Sparkplug-She Came to Play; Somewhere; Schiermonnikoog; Tornetto; Hymn
for Her; Desert Island
Tracks; Space Train; McQueen; Shatner.
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