Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

422

Josh Berman: Old Idea

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
As co-leader of the Emerging Improvisers and Umbrella Collective with drummer Mike Reed, cornetist Josh Berman has been a pivotal force in the Chicago jazz scene. A regular member of Jason Adasiewicz's Rolldown, Jeb Bishop's Lucky 7's, Keefe Jackson's Project Project and Fast Citizens and Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star Orchestra, Berman has proven to be a strong new voice of the post-Vandermark generation.

A richly textured and delicately nuanced record, Old Idea is Berman's long awaited debut as a leader, fronting a quintet of regular collaborators Keefe Jackson (tenor saxophone), Jason Adasiewicz (vibraphone), Anton Hatwich (bass) and Nori Tanaka (drums). As is typical of the tight-knit Chicago scene, all of the quintet members play together in other ensembles, lending the session an air of carefree congeniality.

Berman is a longstanding member of Adasiewicz's quintet whose debut, Rolldown (482 Music, 2008), shares many stylistic similarities with this date. Like Adasiewicz, Berman re-interprets the asymmetrical melodies, fractured rhythms and striking harmonies of the innovative mid-1960s Blue Note recordings of Eric Dolphy, Andrew Hill, Jackie McLean and Grachan Moncur III for a modern age.

Berman's open-ended writing is complemented by his buttery tone and malleable phrasing, favoring the cornet's mid-range over piercing, brassy pyrotechnics. Mirroring his approach towards improvisation, Berman's pieces rely on oblique narratives rather than conventional head-solo-head formats for direction. The loose "On Account of a Hat" opens the record with a capricious arrangement and string of feverish solos driven by endlessly modulating rhythmic accompaniment. Berman and Adasiewicz contribute strong statements as Jackson's blustery tenor provides the tune's climax over a rapidly deconstructed vamp.

"Let's Pretend" invokes the noir ambience of Dolphy's Out To Lunch (Blue Note, 1964), as Adasiewicz's metallic flourishes pirouette across staccato martial rhythms and a descending melodic line, while the leader's fervent salvos negotiate roiling accompaniment from the band. The episodic "Nori" features similarly thorny detours, transitioning from frantic collective improvisation to serene balladry, punctuated by a swinging coda.

The timeless ballads "Db" and "Almost Late" resonate with maturity, the latter featuring a sumptuous, restrained duo cadenza between Berman and Jackson—a perfect pair. The Latin-themed "What Can?" employs similarly unconventional instrumental combinations, with Berman and Tanaka locked in an effusive duet.

Serving as brief interludes, three different versions of "Next Year" offer potent reminders of Berman's compositional prowess, veering from contrapuntal exercises to rhythmic studies. A carefully balanced session of bluesy, cinematic atmospheres bolstered by old school avant-garde traditions, Old Idea looks to the past while forging headlong into the future.

Track Listing: On Account of a Hat; Next Year A; Let's Pretend; Nori; Next Year B; Almost Late; What Can?; Db; Next Year C.

Personnel: Josh Berman: cornet; Keefe Jackson: tenor saxophone; Jason Adasiewicz: vibraphone; Anton Hatwich: bass; Nori Tanaka: drums.

Title: Old Idea | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Delmark Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Acknowledgement CD/LP/Track Review Acknowledgement
by Don Phipps
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Lessons And Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review Lessons And Fairytales
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 23, 2017
Read The Child in Me CD/LP/Track Review The Child in Me
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: November 23, 2017
Read The Way Home CD/LP/Track Review The Way Home
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Shadow Work CD/LP/Track Review Shadow Work
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Veterans of Jazz CD/LP/Track Review Veterans of Jazz
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 22, 2017
Read "The Colours Suite" CD/LP/Track Review The Colours Suite
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 29, 2017
Read "Live in Sant’Anna Arresi, 2004" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Sant’Anna Arresi, 2004
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 17, 2016
Read "Strykin’ Ahead" CD/LP/Track Review Strykin’ Ahead
by John Kelman
Published: September 2, 2017
Read "Dreamsville" CD/LP/Track Review Dreamsville
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "The Behemoth" CD/LP/Track Review The Behemoth
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 11, 2017
Read "50" CD/LP/Track Review 50
by Doug Collette
Published: July 22, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor