It was a performance that began at 1:00 AM in the heat of the desert, but if the sound is any indication, the John Fedchock NY Sextet was cool during its recording of Live at the Red Sea Jazz Festival
Fedchock is a composer, arranger and trombonist who earned a Grammy
nomination in 2002 for No Nonsense
(Reservoir Music), recorded with his big band. After critical acclaim for Hit the Bricks
(Reservoir Music, 2000), he formed the NY Sextet.
"Elvin's Empire" is a symphony of cool, with the horns harmonizing on the easygoing melody. Drummer Dave Ratajczak closes lines with extra emphasis, while bassist David Finck
and pianist Allen Farnham
leave their mark as well. Farnham's solo has two personalitiesthe drama of the overall story told in the music, and a pleasure stroll. Fedchock begins with a deep, throaty phrase and gradually warms up, while tenor saxophonist Walt Weiskopf
pushes a series of free-form phrases, at times underscored by the other horns and always supplemented by the rhythm section. During one sequence, Weiskopf takes the instrument from a low growl to a high wail, drawing a response from the audience.
Trumpeter Scott Wendholt
leads the melody of "Moon Alley," but the entire sextet is involved. The piece quickly shifts to a series of solos, beginning with Wendholt, while Fedchock's horn sounds a bit muffled, though not muted, at the start of the trombonist's solo.
Drums and bass set the pace to open the group's arrangement of Duke Ellington
's "Caravan." The melody is faithful up to a point, and then the song bounces back and forth between some rapid and moderate tempos. Ratajczak works the toms and rims during the front end of Fedchock's solo, later shifting to snare and cymbals. Live at the Red Sea Jazz Festival
was recorded during a 2008 performance in Eilat, Israel. Though Fedchock has other releases under his belt, this is his first with the sextet. One constant throughout the set is that, no matter which instrument is out front, there's never a moment when the background instruments aren't noticedexcept for a few times when only one instrument is playing, as in Ratajczak's extended solo on "Caravan."