In Magic Tales, organist Radam Schwartz and Conspiracy For Positivity have delivered jazz to enjoystraight-ahead, spiced with funk, with creativity to burn.
Like many jazz musicians today, Schwartz also teachesin his case as a director of the Jazz Institute of New Jerseywhile keeping his hand in performing with side gigs. For a number of years, he has led groups composed of former students, with Magic Tales the second release by the current Conspiracy quintet.
Schwartz has been around some 25 years, paying dues with the likes of Arthur Prysock, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Russell Malone and David "Fathead" Newman. In the liner notes, he says he's not a showcase soloist on organ, such as Joey DeFrancesco, who pulls out all the stops all the time; rather, he favors the ensemble style perfected by his favorite organists Jack McDuff and Charles Earland.
Here he sets a steady groove which pulls together a talented assemblageJames Gibbs III on trumpet, Anthony Ware on alto sax, Mischa Fatkiev or Ryan Clackner on guitar and Joe Brown Jr. on drums. Anthony Hopkins' baritone sax contributes mightily on four tracks. The group plays nine originals, mostly by Schwartz, along with a Mariah Carey pop tune and Joe Henderson standard.
Standing out on the play card is Schwartz's complex arrangement of the title track, its funky beat supporting a swirling horn chorus and introducing Nelson, who takes an assertive low-down solo.
Schwartz's majestic organ chords usher the ensemble into his "Imprecise Exactitudes," before the arrangement spotlights outstanding solos: Ware's creative alto improvisation giving way to Clackner, who soon hands it back to the leader for a driving finish. Ware's talents are also featured on Schwartz's plaintive ballad, "Love Conversation," where he contributes a soulful solo.
Variety is the keynote of the album, and Schwartz changes gear with his "Half GibbsFull Nelson." As the title suggests, Gibbs' trumpet is teamed with Nelson's baritone, as they ping-pong back and forth, exchanging bars with abandon.
On Magic Tales the mentor can be proud of his subjectsand himself as well.
You'll Always Be My Baby; Sands of Time; Sunday Off Broadway; Magic Tales; The Kicker; Imprecise Exactitudes; Love Conversation; Stevie's Beautiful Soul; Between Me and You; Half Gibbs-Full Nelson; World Anthem.
Radam Schultz: organ; James Gibbs III: trumpet; Anthony Ware: alto sax; Anthony Nelson: baritone sax (3, 4, 7, 8, 10); Misha Fatkiev: guitar (1-5, 7, 10); Ryan Clackner: guitar (6, 8, 9, 11); Joe Brown Jr.: drums.