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Bassist Gregg August is a dynamic and vastly underrated arranger and composer. On One Peace he enhances a hard bop template with complex chord structures, layering of inimitable horn arrangements and echoes from other musical genres.
On "Nastissimo for example, trumpeter John Bailey, altoist Myron Walden and tenor man Stacy Dillard play almost mournfully over the quicksilver vamp by August, pianist Luis Perdomo and drummer EJ Strickland. "One for Louis" showcases Bailey, who plays throughout with a strong, even tone, whether whispering or soaring. Perdomo's electric piano and Walden's alto work beautifully on the Latin-styled "Modal Tune, while "In Dedication is a gorgeous ballad that melds hard bop and big band sensibilities. The sleek "Crescent Mood has a "Caravan type of feel, driven by Yosvany Terry's wonderful tenor, and Mike Lowenstern's stellar bass clarinet work on the Middle Eastern-flavored "Cascading gives the song a mysterious dimension.
Another thing that makes August's composing so intriguing is that one never knows how a tune will go. The dazzling "Sixth Finger" opens with a private-eye theme and then a swirling horn crescendo transforms the tune into a burner, with Yosvany Terry's Cain-raising tenor leading the charge.
August's tunes leave ample room for singular expression and his band mates take full advantage of their moments on center stage. One Peace is not an album of mere by-the-numbers mimicry and the challenges issued by his composing bring out the best in every player on this excellent work.
Track Listing: Hand to Mouth; Nastissimo; One for Louis; Modal Tune; Contradiction; Sixth Finger; In Dedication; Change of Course; Crescent Mood; Cascading.
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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