The University of the Arts in Philadelphia (UARTS) has one of the premier jazz education programs in the USA. This excellence is apparent in the exceptional careers of some of their alumni, such as bassist Stanley Clarke
and trombonist Robin Eubanks
. It is also documented well in the many recordings that the university's various ensembles release. Under the attentive guidance of the head of graduate jazz studies, pianist Don Glanden
and through his tireless mentorship the students have many superb albums to their credit. School of Music Graduate Ensemble's Like No One Else
is another intriguing Glanden production.
The pianoless quintet interprets all original compositions that have a modal flavor. Vibraphonist Dimitris Angelakis
opens his own title track with ringing and resonant unaccompanied beats. Thus he sets the darkly romantic mood. Languid horns and loose, sashaying rhythm section enter adding depth and breadth to the melody. Angelakis takes center stage with a mordant and poetic improvisation that becomes a shimmering and heady ballad. Saxophonist Tal Shtuhl
follows, with his tender and muscular tenor, weaving a fervent and imaginative soliloquy. Angelakis introduces understated Latin hints to the energetic conclusion as trumpeter Daniel Nissenbaum
blows warm phrases in a clear and burnished tone.
Nissenbaum's composition "Quai Du Seine" explores popular French motifs. Drummer Conner Saltzer
engages in a lithe and elegant dance that the frontline punctuates with brief up-tempo vamps. After Nissenbaum and Shtuhl state the melody, the former takes a lyrical and passionate solo that swings like mad as the band percolates in the backdrop. Around this loose hard-boppish core Shtuhl's charming saxophone flows gracefully and with a poetic sense.
One of Shtuhl's own contributions, "A Thousand Years Apart," is intimate and introspective and features languid ensemble refrains. Shtuhl embellishes the tune with eloquence and yearning. His inventive duet with Nissenbaum adds to the dramatic ambience as does the latter's fiery, clever extemporization.
The centerpiece of this alluring album is its closer the exquisite "The Sketch." Penned by Glanden, it functions as a grand finale both in its scope as well as length. Shtuhl and Nissenbaum overlap undulating lines to form a pliable sonic web around the Angelakis' cascading strikes, Saltzer's rumbling kit and bassist Ryan Kuhns
' reverberating strings. The individual musicians launch into a stimulating and free flowing conversation that transforms into five, stream of consciousness, monologues. A very cinematic exchange of ideas ensues with an ardent and gripping harmonic structure that falls between the mainstream and the progressively adventurous.
The combination of such raw talent with the first-rate nurturing institutions like UARTS provide, assures that the future of jazz is secure and bright. A listen to this captivating disc is enough to convince anyone of this fact.
WR; Interlude: Saxophone; Quai Du Seine; Interlude: Drums; Snowscape; Interlude:
Trumpet; Like No One Else; Interlude: Bass; A Thousand Years Apart; Interlude:
Vibraphone; Poem; Nostalgia; The Sketch.
Don Glanden: composition; Daniel Nissenbaum: trumpet; Musician Name #3: instrument;
Dimitris Angelakis: vibraphone; Tal Shtuhl: saxophone; Ryan Kuhns: bass; Conner