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The light country air that Abby and Norm Zocher convey for their latest album keeps the session cool and comfortable. And yet they've added just the right amount of tension through many harmonic and rhythmic surprises. The title track stirs up powerful forces and makes your hair stand on end. This is the same band that's been tearin' it up since 1994.
Abby's fingerstyle guitar and sensitive vocals hold something for everyone. When she pairs with George Garzone's tenor, she's flying high and charged up to full strength. When she scat sings in unison with husband Norm's virtuosic bass, their phrases are classic. 'Freestyle,' her surging guitar tribute, features a demonstrative piano interlude by Bevan Manson to complement her fiery technique. Together, guitarist and pianist remind us how effectively jazz can make use of creative improvisation and spontaneity. After Brooke Sofferman punctuates the track with an extended and thrilling drum kit solo, the pair resumes a volatile tirade. This band doesn't hold back.
The lyrics of 'My Funny Valentine' hold no surprises. The song merely requires (and receives) a quiet and sensual interpretation. At midstream, however, Abby and Norm step forward in tandem with a unison interlude that pairs electric bass with scat singing in a beautiful affair. Abby follows that with a loose guitar solo that fits the occasion quite well.
The Abby & Norm Group offers creative music that's been tempered by tradition and altered by spontaneous freedom. How else can the music grow? In the hands of the Zochers, jazz will continue to blaze fresh trails that run apart from the beaten path, but never too far out of sight.
Track Listing: Canadian Suite (for Prince Edward Island): Hymn for the Open Country, CBC at Night, Always
(Returning), A Place Called Home/Kitchen Party; Freestyle; My Funny Valentine; Melodic Miner?s
Daughter; Miles; Caramel; A Fox in the Woods.
Personnel: Abby Aronson Zocher- nylon string guitar, electric guitar, electric bass, voice; Norman Zocher-
electric guitar, acoustic bass, electric bass, 7-string quantum guitarbass; George Garzone- tenor
saxophone, soprano saxophone; Bevan Manson- piano; Brooke Sofferman- drums.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.