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Pianist Allen Farnham leads a quintet of Chris Potter on tenor saxophone, Hendrik Meurkens on harmonica, Chris Berger on acoustic bass and Tim Horner on drums for "Samba de Sorvete" and "Lost in Zurich." The other tracks employ the quintet members as soloists with the RIAS Big Band from Berlin; the acronym stands for Radio In America Sector. This band was organized shortly after World War II and is now led by trombonist Jiggs Whigham. Farnham's talent as an arranger is put to use on each track, featuring other soloists and creating various soundscapes to match. Nat Adderley's "Work Song" is a hot arrangement with the big band supporting Farnham's piano solo, Potter's fiery tenor solo, and Meurkens' agile harmonica; the arrangement is particularly interesting because of its rhythmic irregularities.
Jobim's "Triste" features Meurkens' harmonica in a sweeping dramatic approach that lets loose the sentiment associated with that tune. Farnham's arrangement of John Coltrane's "Cousin Mary" follows in the Count Basie tradition, with an easy-going blues approach punctuated by high brass attacks. Whigham, Potter, Farnham, and flugelhornist Till Broenner take the spotlight solo work; Broenner proves to be a hidden talent deserving much wider recognition.
Other standouts include alto saxophonist Greg Peters on "There Will Never Be Another You," clarinetist Klaus Marmulla & flutist Walter Gauchel on "Triste," and Chris Potter's feature on "My Foolish Heart." Having just turned 27 and carrying nine years of professional experience under his belt, Potter has matured rather quickly and has developed a firm sound of his own. He's an ideal partner here for the suave harmonica tone of veteran Hendrik Meurkens, and they benefit from the absorbing arrangements of Allen Farnham.
Track Listing: RIAS-Ticity; Work Song, Part I; Work Song, Part II; Lost in Zurich; There Will Never Be Another You; Triste; Gai-Kichi; My Foolish Heart; Samba de Sorvete; Cousin Mary.
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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