Guitarist Ryan Blotnick is on a journey of exploration on this, his first CD. All of the compositions are his originals with one exceptiona ballad by alto saxophonist Pete Robbins. Blotnick is accompanied on this journey by Robbins as well as Albert Sanz (piano), Perry Wortman (bass) and Joe Smith (drums), a quintet that was assembled for a tour last year and is well-attuned to each other.
There is a chamber feel to this CD because of the tightly-knit ensemble playing and the nature of the music. Blotnick's compositions are short musical statementssimple lines using different time signaturesthat allow for each track to be mostly improvisation. Robbins' ballad "Barceloneta has more of a melody than the rest, but is also loosely structured so as to blend nicely with the rest of the material.
Each player has their very good moments. There is some well-done contrapuntal work between Blotnick and Wortman; Smith provides some tasty brushwork and Robbins' saxophone shines on several tracks. Blotnick is always present and evinces a smooth style of playing.
This CD is almost a "concept" piece in the sense that the tracks are very much alike in feeling and ensemble approach. It is almost an act of bravery for an artist to record all originals for a first CD. However, there is curiosity as to how Blotnick would have interpreted one or two standards as a contrast to his personal statements. But since he is only 24 years old, he has much more exploring to do.
Track Listing: Winter Melt; Thinning Air; Music Needs You; The Quiet Space Left Behind; Barceloneta; Liberty; You Can Talk During This; Wrong Turns; Tired House.
Personnel: Ryan Blotnick: guitar; Pete Robbins: alto saxophone; Albert Sanz: piano; Perry Wortman; bass; Joe Smith: drums.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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