In 2005, visionary composer/guitarist Paul Nash lost his battle with brain cancer. Some six weeks prior to his passing, Nash was able to complete production on Jazz Cycles, a suite orchestrated for his ensemble, Manhattan New Music Project (MNMP). The resulting disc is chock-full of intricate writing, spontaneous group interplay and staggering solos. Stylistically, Nash's music runs the gamut of contemporary jazz; from free-form, to post-bop to funk.
The ensemble work throughout the disc's fifteen tracks is stunning. In the tradition of Gil Evans and Charles Mingus, Nash's thoughtfully arranged compositions garner strength from the individual personalities of some of the finest musicians performing in jazz today. The camaraderie for each other and for the spirit of their fallen leader can be heard from the opening theme and variations of "Passaglia to the immense waves of rhythmic gust on the closing "Epilogue.
Each member of the MNMP is given ample solo space. Trumpeter Shane Endsley blows with conviction on "Outside In, alto and soprano saxophonist Bruce Williamson soars elegantly on "Ballad for T, tenor saxophonist Tim Ries explores an aggressive edge on "Desire, pianist Jim Ridl exercises immense patience on "Wind Over the Lake, bassist Jay Anderson maintains a lyrical intensity on "Interlude 1 and "Interlude 3, guitarist Vic Juris burns through "Tamalpais Night and drummer Grisha Alexiev brings vibrant closure to "It's Only a Dream.
The unwavering dedication of the members of MNMP to the legacy of Nash and his incomparable work is heard in bursts of joyous conviction, anguish and urgency. Jazz Cycles, amazingly recorded in a single six-hour session, is an adventure in risk taking. Nash left a bright light shining on the music world.
Passaglia; Night Flight; Desire; Wind Over the Lake; Interlude 1; Strange Rife; Outside In; Ballad for T; Interlude 2; Interlude 3; It
Shane Endsley: trumpet; Bruce Williamson: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Tim Ries: tenor saxophone; Vic Juris: guitar; Jay Anderson: bass; Grisha Alexiev: drums; Jim Ridl: piano.