Maryland, Virginia and the Washington DC area have been melting pots for progressive rock bands over the years, yet every so often a modern jazz unit such as the Baltimore, MD based quartet who call themselves “Krill” emerge and people generally take notice! With this new release we hear a band who merge extremely engaging and somewhat unique and altogether memorable compositions with intricate and finely honed dialogue of an improvisational nature. Bassist F. Vattel Cherry is perhaps the better known of the bunch, mainly from his work with saxophonists Charles Gayle, David Murray, John Tchicai and pianist Cecil Taylor among other heavyweights of this often enterprising genre. Here, Mr. Cherry and drummer Will Redman provide the heartbeat while serving as the axis for this extremely thoughtful and often invigorating set featuring the twin saxophone attack of John Dierker and Evan Rapport.
The band lulls you into a slow blues groove during the opener, titled “All Systems Go” as Rapport and Dierker trade wistful lines, then converge and turn up the heat amid sudden spurts of boisterous unison choruses. Here and throughout, Cherry steers the band through various motifs and time signatures whether performing arco or plucking some fairly mean and at times ominous notes while Redman adds crisp rhythms, nuance and timber. Basically, Redman is an impeccable timekeeper and provides a mini clinic on the art of modern jazz drumming! At times, the band intermingles sonorous melodies with terse interludes of reckless abandon yet the compositions for the most part, are structured and articulately executed. On “Dust” the band exhibits their extensive range and shrewd utilization of space via a whirlwind of cunning motifs, shifting patterns and free-style dialogue which is heightened by Rapport’s raspy-throated soprano sax work and Dierker’s corpulent, full-bodied blowing on tenor sax. The musicians implement breezy and lightly swinging vibes on “To A People Yet Unborn” complete with cerebral interplay and raw power along with counterbalancing themes as the band supplements their often complex frameworks with an overall air of refinement and subtle elegance. Quirky rhythms, relaxed swing motifs and penetrating explorations comprise, “Grateful Fred” while the multi-reedmen continue their combined sonic assaults on “The Count”.
Folks, this is exciting stuff! Krill achieves that often-elusive blend of loosely based, yet meaningful improv and themes integrated into well organized compositions that come at you from disparate angles. Let’s hope this newly formed band sticks around for awhile as these lads have seemingly found some sort of archetypal niche that is clearly their own! Highly recommended!
* * * * ½ (out of * * * * *)
Evan Rapport; Saxophones, Clarinet, Flute, Humanatone & Recorders: John Dierker; Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet & Bass Clarinet: F. Vattel Cherry; Double Bass: Will Redman; 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.