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Tima Volozh: Jubilee


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Tima Volozh: Jubilee
Jubilee is the excellent debut release of Russian-born New York-based drummer Tima Volozh. The group was formed in March 2022, assembled for a benefit performance in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The rhythm section features bassist Jerome Harris and guitarist Brad Shepik, both of whom are known for their work with drummer Paul Motian, among notable others. Volozh met them while researching Motian's music for his master's degree thesis at New York University. Canadian pianist and composer Noah Franche-Nolan and saxophonist Timo Vollbrecht complete the ensemble splendidly. In tribute to Motian, whose work has had a major influence on him, Volozh included Motian's "Mumbo Jumbo" in the program. The piece was first recorded on Motian's Garden of Eden (ECM, 2006), with Harris on electric bass.

The album's first cut, "Adoration of the Earth," is based on the opening bassoon solo from Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, a theme that other jazz composers and improvisers have borrowed. Volozh is in good company as he adds to the trove of tributes. Stravinsky's bassoon call appears in Hubert Laws' Rite of Spring album (CTI, 1971), and The Bad Plus' album of the same name (Sony Masterworks, 2014). Ornette Coleman alludes to it on "Sleep Talk" on Human Feeling (Antilles, 1979) via Bern Nix's guitar line. Charlie Parker and Paul Desmond both quoted it in improvisations, as have others. Volozh's setting of the Stravinsky excerpt is straightforward and evocative. Drums and saxophone introduce a rhythmically enlivened version of the passage, which is then repeated, underpinned by an Afro-Latin groove. The arrangement has an elegant two-part structure. The first part is a one-chord minor mode, the second is an original twelve-bar chord progression. Each section is open and extended for solos. The earth is an increasingly complicated subject, arousing complex emotions, and Vollbrecht's saxophone work here is genuinely expressive.

The quirky little rhythmic intro to "Star Eyes," a feature of Charlie Parker's 1951 date with Miles Davis, Walter Bishop, Jr., Teddy Kotick, and Max Roach (Verve), is responsible—at least in part—for propelling the tune into the common practice jazz repertoire. Volozh's arrangement of "Star Eyes" begins with the intro, then toys with it, messing with meter, stretching and contracting the melodic phrasing, adding counterpoint in the lower register. The fun increases as he goes on to base the entire song on (his version of) the intro feel, transforming and contemporizing it. From a historical perspective, it seems fitting for the Parker intro to have finally taken over the piece as it does here. The effect is thoroughly invigorating. (Check the YouTube video at the bottom of the page.)

Program highlights include an artful reconstruction of Thelonious Monk's "Evidence" and an arrangement of "Lá Lauê," a capoeira corrido. "Lá Lauê" opens with a faint echo of berimbau, the Angolan bow associated with capoeira music, filtered through Shepik's guitar. Inclusion of the piece points to Volozh's experiences as a student of the Brazilian martial art form. Volozh's arrangements on Jubilee are well-crafted and the ensemble's performances are strong throughout.

Track Listing

Adoration of the Earth; Vortex; Lá Lauê; Star Eyes; Aisha; Mumbo Jumbo; Evidence.


Additional Instrumentation

Jerome Harris: electric bass.

Album information

Title: Jubilee | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Shifting Paradigm Records



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