175

Ralph Simon and Magic Club: Music for the Millennium

Glenn Astarita By

Sign in to view read count
Music for the Millennium is saxophonist/composer Ralph Simon’s second release for the Postcards label which in case you haven’t heard was an admirable early to mid 90’s jazz label featuring the creme de la creme of the jazz world. Thankfully, Arkadia Records has acquired the Postcards catalogue resulting in a venerable crop of reissues featuring the original artwork, and liners. Here Ralph Simon and “Magic Club” pursue an aggressive conceptual approach that articulates free-jazz, ethereal sonic soundscapes combined with ethnocentric percussion along with tracks featuring Elizabeth Panzer’s expertise on the Harp.

As a soprano saxophonist, Ralph Simon gets quite a bit of mileage out of briefly stated yet imperturbable phrasing while possessing near flawless intonation. On his composition titled, “The Ballad Quartet will Now Play”, Simon goes head to head with famed pianist Paul Bley who also shares some of the synth chores on this recording. Here, Simon executes affable yet fragile passages over swirling motifs and free-jazz style drumming from fellow Postcards recording artist, Bruce Ditmas (see Nov’99 AAJ reviews). On this piece, Bley utilizes choral-vocal midi patches to round out the background tonalities; however, these sounds become a bit too prominent in the mix toward the finale, yet ...only a minor beef. Simon’s multi-part “Suite First Take” features the great trombonist and “Postcards” charter member Julian Priester along with the estimable bassist Gary Peacock and others as Simon directs the band through dialogues that may suggest hybrid world – free jazz stylizations complimented by weaving, multi-tonal and temporal passages. Keith Jarrett’s “Windsong” is a duet featuring Simon and bassist Gary Peacock as Simon’s lyrically rich and earnest phrasing seems to emanate from within the soul as if here were in a meditative or spiritual trance. A soft interpretation of Miles Davis’ classic “Blue and Green” closes out this interesting set as Simon bridges the gap between mainstream/free jazz along with otherworldly themes and disparate modal developments.

Music for the Millennium is befitting as we count down the days to Y2K - Simon’s slightly futuristic vision works well, while exhibiting a unique stylistic approach which may in fact become more commonplace as music of this ilk progresses into the 21st Century. * * * 1/2


Personnel:

Ralph Simon; Soprano Saxophone, Breath-Controlled Synthesizers: Paul Bley; Piano & Synthesizer: Gary Peacock; Bass: Julian Priester; Trombone: Bruce Ditmas; Drums & synthesizers: Alan Pasqua; Piano (track 11): Jeff Berman; Vibes: Tom Boyer; Percussion & Synthesized Percussion: Elizabeth Panzer; Harp: Michael DiSibio; Trumpet (coda of track 11)

Title: Music for the Millennium | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Postcards


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Whispers on the Wind CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Heptagon CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Silent Light" CD/LP/Track Review Silent Light
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 3, 2017
Read "Live at the Blue Whale" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the Blue Whale
by Phillip Woolever
Published: May 9, 2017
Read "Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert" CD/LP/Track Review Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 24, 2017
Read "Seaside" CD/LP/Track Review Seaside
by John Eyles
Published: January 30, 2017
Read "Alaya" CD/LP/Track Review Alaya
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 9, 2017
Read "Ready Take One" CD/LP/Track Review Ready Take One
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 13, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.