Saxophonist/composer Bruce Eskovitz makes music that is playful and appealing yet challenging and thoughtful at the same time. On an earlier recording, he paid tribute to saxophonist Sonny Rollins in a quartet setting, but here he displays his impressive composing and arranging chops in a big band setting. Eskovitz knows about intimacy and so the charts express a closeness often only achieved in smaller settings. The orchestra never sounds dense or thick, and despite the fact that the leader is an academicit's Dr. Bruce Eskovitzthe music is bright, never calling attention to itself.
The set opens with a samba in which flutes carry the melody over a driving piano and electric bass. The track has a lot going for itdazzling horn section work, smart solos by guitarist Ian Robbins and Eskovitz (on soprano) and an infectious melodic line. It ends first with a bang...! Then offers a quick, quiet release.
And speaking of Latin-ish tempos, Dr. Bruce takes that much over played standard "Invitation" and spins it south of the border. It's a clever take: with a pulsating rhythm and the brass riff providing a bed for Eskovitz, slowly and deliberately stating the famous melody atop. The effect is memorable and Eskovitz shines with a dynamic solo that deliciously revisits the colors of the theme and builds to a passionate climax without ever losing the majesty of the tune. The band subtly yet emphatically brings the song to close.
These are charts of sterling diversity there's a little of everything. The leader clearly likes Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythmsthey show up again in "Latin Fever" and "Dialogue"but there's some gospel in "One Last Time," some rousing Rollins-inspired grooves in "Just in the 'Newk' of Time," some fusion funk in Freddie Hubbard's classic "Red Clay". Of course all of this features big-band writing and arrangements that range from mellow and relaxed to powerful. And the soloists ain't bad either as they smartly interpret all that the good Doctor has prescribed!
Track Listing: Breakthrough; Damien's Dance; Invitation; Latin Fever; Detour Ahead; Just in the "Newk" of Time; Dialogue; A Walk in the Park; Red Clay; One Last Time
Personnel: Dr. Bruce Eskovitz: tenor and soprano saxophones, alto flute; Billy Kerr: alto saxophone, flute; Larry Williams,Jeff Jarvis: trumpet and flugelhorn; Andrew Lippman: trombone; Ian Robbins: guitar; Mark Balling: keyboards; Adam Cohen: basses: Angel Figueroa: percussion; Steve Barnes: drums
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.