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This Chicago-based quartet projects a raw and vibrant soundstage, nicely balanced with breakneck speed unison lines and introspective dialogues, topped off by tenor saxophonists Artie Black and Hunter Diamond's hearty choruses. They dig deep, yet on burners like the swiftly executed bop piece "Rudy's Mood," they dish out briskly executed unison lines, leading to hyper-mode frameworks, shrewdly contrasted by a sense of openness. Hence, the band doesn't clutter things up with tireless soloing escapades. Basically, the saxophonists effectively pick their spots while letting the music breath.
"Jacunda" opens with cheery sax phrasings as the frontline frames the primary theme, surging into breezy and pungent overtures. Here, drummer Neil Hemphill's peppery and darting drum patterns and bassist Matt Ulery's malleable bass passages underscore the leaders' odd-time signatures and dynamic shifts in tempo, as the band morphs into several bars of sprightly improv. However, "Mandala" is a laid-back blues, tinted with drifting qualities.
The quartet launches "Clay Feet" with an animated motif, anchored by the saxophonists' sonorous extended notes. Yet Ulery quietly drives the momentum via his smooth and quietly thrusting support. Moving forward, the musicians alter the flow and punch out the main theme with forceful accents while reassembling the principle melody with a more pronounced Latin-jazz groove. They also segment or modulate the pace towards the coda. In sum, Artie Black's strong compositions and clever arrangements provide a strong foundation for the artists' engaging improvisational activities.
Track Listing: Jim Jam on the Veranda; The Middle Way; Rudy’s Mood; Eleanor & Rufus; Jacunda;
Mandala; Village Within the City; Clay Feet; Little Melody.
Personnel: Artie Black: tenor saxophone; Hunter Diamond: tenor saxophone; Matt Ulery:
bass; Neil Hemphill: drums.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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