All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

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...


Joshua Rager Nonet: Jondo

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
It's hard to decide what to make of this. Canadian-based composer / pianist Joshua Rager has assembled a splendid corps of musicians, nine in all (plus trumpeter Andy King on the three-part "Prodigal Son Suite"), to perform seven of the leader's original themes, one by Andre White and another by the Hollywood songwriting team of Al Dubin and Harry Warren. Rager writes well, perhaps a touch too well, as much of the music veers more toward scholarly than spontaneous, almost as if it were composed for credit in a course on how to design impressive charts for a jazz ensemble.

That appraisal, on the other hand, may be too uncharitable, as there are moments, as on "Child's Play," "The Master Waits" or "Inside Track" when Rager loosens the reins and allows the music to settle into a more unstudied groove. The nonet responds well, amplifying sturdy rhythmic support from bassist Dave Watts and drummer Richard Irwin with persuasive solos by Rager ("Child's Play"), alto Donny Kennedy ("The Master Waits"), Kennedy, tenor Frank Lozano, trumpeter Bill Mahar and Rager again ("The Inside Track"). Speaking of solos, one mustn't gloss over the emphatic statements by Mahar, baritone Cameron Wallis and an (unnamed) guitarist on the even-tempered "Summer Night." The (same?) guitarist (none is listed in the group's personnel) is showcased again on White's shapely ballad "No Goodbye."

It's a pity that all of this comes later, as the album's opening tracks ("Prodigal Son Suite, Parts 1-3," "Jondo") are relatively less engaging. Part 1 of the "Suite" opens with a nine-note theme repeated sixteen times (and again behind Lozano's solo), which some may see as excessive; Parts 2 and 3, combined on one track (it's puzzling to ascertain where 2 ends and 3 begins), are somewhat more animated, with a radiant solo by trombonist Jean-Nicolas Trottier adding luster, while "Jondo" is another well-crafted theme that flows gently along on the wings on Rager's efficient solo without leaving a discernible impression. The scenario brightens on "Child's Play," and the remainder of the album is by and large quite charming.

As for an inclusive assessment of Jondo, the word "uneven" springs to mind, as there are indeed moments of pleasure tempered by others that are less congenial. Perhaps "promising" would be a more accurate appraisal. To sum up, modest marks for the first half of the album, higher scores for the second.

Track Listing: Prodigal Son Suite Part I; Prodigal Son Suite Parts II and III; Jondo; Child’s Play; The Master Waits; No Goodbye; 3 Legged Dog; The Inside Track; Summer Night.

Personnel: Joshua Rager: leader, piano, composer, arranger; Bill Mahar: trumpet; Andy King: trumpet (1-2); Donny Kennedy: alto sax; Frank Lozano: tenor sax, flute; Cameron Wallis: baritone sax; Jean-Nicolas Trottier: trombone; Dave Watts: bass; Rich Irwin: drums; Miguel Medina: cajon (3).

Title: Jondo | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Bent River Records


comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles


Bent River Records


Related Articles

Read Lala Belu CD/LP/Track Review
Lala Belu
by Chris May
Published: March 23, 2018
Read All Melody CD/LP/Track Review
All Melody
by Phil Barnes
Published: March 23, 2018
Read The Future is Female CD/LP/Track Review
The Future is Female
by Paul Rauch
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Hunters & Scavengers CD/LP/Track Review
Hunters & Scavengers
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow CD/LP/Track Review
Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 22, 2018
Read Transatlantic CD/LP/Track Review
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 22, 2018
Read "Of Light and Shadows" CD/LP/Track Review Of Light and Shadows
by Phillip Woolever
Published: December 9, 2017
Read "ON Tour" CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "No Mundo Dos Sons" CD/LP/Track Review No Mundo Dos Sons
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: October 12, 2017
Read "Solos" CD/LP/Track Review Solos
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 24, 2018
Read "Tenderly featuring Gilad Hekselman" CD/LP/Track Review Tenderly featuring Gilad Hekselman
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 30, 2017
Read "Where Is My Mind?" CD/LP/Track Review Where Is My Mind?
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 11, 2017