With just two exceptions, Barbara Montgomery's new album relies entirely on her own compositions, many of which she collaborated on with her long time accompanist Barry Sames. The two exceptions are carry overs from her previous album Dakini Land which paid tribute to the compositions of Chick Corea and Neville Potter. The purpose of this album is one of providing therapy from the terrible events of September 11 and its aftermath. Consequently, the material on this session is very serious stuff. Although Montgomery lightens up now and then with a touch of optimism and a bit of humor, there's not much happy music here. The songs seem to represent different levels of remedy and reconciliation. The highly improvisational "Vox Barbara" is "composed"on the spot and addresses the issue of whether only the strong can survive the trials and tribulations of modern times. This is free jazz in the sense that the words appear to be spontaneous expressions of fears, hopes, anxieties and aspirations all expressed with in the framework of highly emotional sounds created by the instruments, especially Chris Farr's sax. The remaining songs have their lyrics reprinted in the liner notes. One of the more haunting pieces on the CD is "An Illusion" with Montgomery's cool, profound voice played against John Swana's soft muted trumpet, a la Miles Davis. There's some hope in "When We First Met" which comes pretty close to a love song, although ending up with the pessimistic conclusion that "I thought you were in love, not that you cared for me."
As terrible as it was, I for one am beginning to become a bit leery about events hitched to that modern day of infamy, September 11 (although other unhappy events in Montgomery's life at this time seem to darken her thoughts). Not everything needs to be tied to 9-11 to make it appreciated and acceptable. This album, while oozing with dark colors, is good enough to stand on its own without reference to the Twin Towers attack. Visit Montgomery at http://www.bjazz.com.
Track Listing: An Illusion; E-mail Blues; As the Sun (Little Sunflower); Idle Moments; Armando's Rhumba; You're Always in My Space; When We First Met; Web of Glass; Vox Barbara
Personnel: Barbara Montgomery - Vocals; Barry Sames - Piano; Chris Farr - Tenor Sax; John Swana - trumpet/flugelhorn; Lee Smith - Acoustic Bass; Chico Huff - Electric Bass; Craig Ebner, Steve Giordano - Guitar; Marlon Simon - Drums/Percussion; Tony Miceli - Vibraphone; Gregory McDonald, Wilby Fletcher, Dave Brown - Drums; Abdou Mboup - Percussion
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.