154

Fred Hess Big Band: Into the Open

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Fred Hess Big Band: Into the Open Denver, Colorado-based tenor saxophonist/bandleader Fred Hess isn't one to sit around and wait for the muse to pay a visit. He boasts fifteen CDs as a leader, cranking one out every year now for better than a decade. His profile rose on the surge of a set of small group outings, beginning with Crossed Paths (Tapestry, 2005), and culminating—small group-wise—with Single Moment (Alison, 2008), on which he experimented by expanding, very successfully, his free jazz quartet to a sextet.

Hess made the leap to the big band arena with the outstanding Hold On (Dazzle Records, 2009), which had much more of a traditional feeling than his small group outings would suggest. Into The Open finds Hess pushing deeper into big band land, with a freer atmosphere than Hold On had, with superb results.

Opening with "Sooz Blooz," one of Hess's most engaging compositions—reprised from his sextet outing How 'Bout Now and anchored, now as then, by the versatile team of bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Matt Wilson—the band drives hard on a circuitous journey that moves into one of the leader's characteristically searing and serpentine solos. The ensemble surges with heavy muscle, giving way to trombonist Tom Hall, who blows with a subdued elegance, leading into alto saxophonist John Gunther's wailing, Dixieland-like interlude.

Alison's Dream" starts out with bass tromboinist Gary Mayne's leviathan groans, then swirls into a surreal world full of stop/start story lines—some majestic, some bluesy and soulful, and some with an off-kilter swing—put together to tell an odd and fractured tale, laid down in part by trumpeter Brad Goode's strange and manic "vocalizations," sounding like a musical version of Uriah Heep, the oddball character of Charles Dicken's David Copperfield.

The Clef Family is back. They have joined Hess on at least his last seven recordings, and things are always, with them, unpredictable. This time out it's to celebrate "Baby Clef's Birthday." There are fanfares and baby cries, chitchat, dog howlings, disarray and the dark, murky undercurrents of an extended family shindig.

But Hess— an artist who continues to push the music forward —saves the best for last. "Ninth House" is his sixteen-minute tour de force tribute to jazz giant John Coltrane, combining bits and pieces of the late saxophonist's recorded legacy with the energy of Hess' magnificent powerhouse big band.


Track Listing: Sooz Blooz; Home Base; See You (Illuma Soma); Norman's Gold; Alison's Dream; Journey to Sentosa; Baby Clef's Birthday; Ninth House.

Personnel: Fred Hess: tenor saxophone; Brad Goode: trumpet; Dave Rajewski: trumpet; Al Hood: trumpet; Ron Miles: trumpet; Tom Ball: trombone; Nelson Hinds: trombone; Hoyt Andres: trombone; Gary Mayne: trombone; John Gunther: alto saxophone; Johan Eriksson: alto saxophone; Peter Sommer: tenor saxophone; Mark Harris: baritone saxophone; Marc Sabatella: piano; Ken Filiano: bass; Matt Wilson: drums; Tyler Gilmore: conductor.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Alison | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
John Coltrane John Coltrane
saxophone
George Kahn George Kahn
piano
Sonny Rollins Sonny Rollins
saxophone
Lester Young Lester Young
saxophone
Eric Dolphy Eric Dolphy
reeds
Ornette Coleman Ornette Coleman
sax, alto
Michael Brecker Michael Brecker
sax, tenor
Chris Potter Chris Potter
reeds
Joe Lovano Joe Lovano
saxophone
Joe Henderson Joe Henderson
sax, tenor
Hal Galper Hal Galper
piano

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Henrik Jensen's Followed by Thirteen: Blackwater" CD/LP/Track Review Henrik Jensen's Followed by Thirteen: Blackwater
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "Sunday Bolero" CD/LP/Track Review Sunday Bolero
by James Nadal
Published: June 15, 2016
Read "Moons" CD/LP/Track Review Moons
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 16, 2016
Read "Interstellar Space" CD/LP/Track Review Interstellar Space
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: May 29, 2016
Read "Light Shines In" CD/LP/Track Review Light Shines In
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 2, 2016
Read "Pathways" CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by James Nadal
Published: February 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

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!

Buy it!