Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

284

Loren Stillman: It Could Be Anything

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Jazz fans seem to be constantly debating when the best period for jazz was. That some believe that now is unequivocally the worst time for a genre now in its second century is puzzling. The arguments most often heard have to do with there being no "significant innovations, and the predominance of high profile artists like Diana Krall and Jamie Cullum overshadowing more "serious jazz artists.

Whether or not top-charting artists are serious is an argument for another day. But it's inescapable fact that jazz's marginalized position—at least in terms of CD sales—means that the greater public's perspective on jazz is largely defined by the handful of big sellers like Krall, not to mention the predominance of reissues from the major labels. Still, one need only look to the plethora of independent labels to realize that jazz is hardly on its death bed. It's thriving and, if not seeing grand developmental leaps, there are inescapable steps forward day-by-day, release-by-release. That a twenty-something musician like saxophonist Loren Stillman can release an album as mature, well-conceived and personal as It Could Be Anything is clear evidence that creative jazz with a difference is still being made and that it's premature to be ringing its death-knell.

It Could Be Anything is Stillman's fourth release as a leader since 1998, and if there's anything more impressive than his growth as a player, it's his evolution as a writer. Some might consider him too cerebral—there's clearly an underlying complexity to his detailed compositions that is rich grist for inquiring musical minds. But analyses of his potent blend of irregular meters, vivid counterpoint and abstract harmonies would be of little value if his music didn't resonate so strongly. Stillman's impressionistic bent may mean out-of-the-box melodic thinking, but despite that he's unfailingly lyrical. Some writers are oblique for the sake of it, but it's clear that Stillman wants his music to sing.

Bassist Scott Lee and drummer Jeff Hirshfield date back to Stillman's second release, How Sweet It Is (Nagel-Heyer, 2003). The newcomer to the group is Gary Versace, more commonly heard these days on organ in guitarist John Scofield's touring band, as well as with Indo-Pakistani guitarist Rez Abbasi and on his own debut, Time and Again (Steeplechase, 2005). Here he's strictly on piano, and his abstract sense of musical suggestion is continued evidence of a significant musical voice gaining ground at almost warp speeds.

Stillman's technique is formidable—making his alto sound flute-like on the moody miniature, "Vignette: Ghost Town and evoking multi-hued multiphonics on the more insistent and deceptively-titled "I Don't Know What We're Doing. But his tone, possessing a gradual and gentle vibrato, remains warm and appealing throughout.

The quartet's simpatico is clear, despite communication being often so subtle as to be felt rather than heard. Feeling is, in fact, the defining characteristic of It Could Be Anything, where Stillman proves that it's possible to create intelligently multi-layered music that is emotionally compelling and speaks with its own voice.


Track Listing: Evil Olive; Noushka Foo; A Common Thread; Gnu; Vignette: Ghost Town; Drawn Inward; Old San Juan; A Simple Phrase; I Don

Personnel: Loren Stillman: alto saxophone; Gary Versace: piano; Scott Lee: bass; Jeff Hirshfield: drums.

Title: It Could Be Anything | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Evil Olive

Evil Olive

Loren Stillman
It Could Be Anything

CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Going Public

Going Public

Fresh Sound Records
2014

buy
 

The Big Eyes

Fresh Sound New Talent
2012

buy
Winter Fruits

Winter Fruits

Pirouet Records
2009

buy
Blind Date

Blind Date

Pirouet Records
2008

buy
Blind Date

Blind Date

Pirouet Records
2007

buy
 

Trio Alto - Volume One

SteepleChase Records
2007

buy

Related Articles

Read Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review
Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard
by Doug Collette
Published: December 13, 2018
Read The Forest from Above CD/LP/Track Review
The Forest from Above
by John Eyles
Published: December 13, 2018
Read Imaginary Band CD/LP/Track Review
Imaginary Band
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 13, 2018
Read Night CD/LP/Track Review
Night
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 13, 2018
Read An Ayler Xmas Volume 2 CD/LP/Track Review
An Ayler Xmas Volume 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 13, 2018
Read I Always Knew CD/LP/Track Review
I Always Knew
by Paul Rauch
Published: December 12, 2018
Read "Live in Japan" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Japan
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 12, 2018
Read "Back to the Sunset" CD/LP/Track Review Back to the Sunset
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 7, 2018
Read "Fearless And Kind" CD/LP/Track Review Fearless And Kind
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 14, 2018
Read "Life Anthem" CD/LP/Track Review Life Anthem
by Troy Dostert
Published: May 31, 2018
Read "Steve Reich: Drumming" CD/LP/Track Review Steve Reich: Drumming
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2018
Read "Disappeared Behind the Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Disappeared Behind the Sun
by John Sharpe
Published: January 21, 2018