There are many fine selling points for the city of Tampa, but being a "jazz Mecca" probably isn't at the top of the list. With its aspirational title, Out of This Town may be the vehicle that takes the Zach Bartholomew Trio (ZBT) from their native Florida to some greater exposure. The group's debut recording is an exercise in democratic creativity with its namesake leader, bassist Brandon Robertson and drummer Miles Bozeman each contributing original compositions.
Like many burgeoning piano trios of late, ZBT has one foot planted firmly in the established post bop idiom and another in far less familiar territory. A case in point is "Lazy Bird." Bartholomew introduces the piece as a ballad before Bozeman joins with an improvisation that seems to intentionally clash with the original narrative. At first, it is a bit disconcerting but that proves an effective motivation to listen carefully. What more vigilant attention reveals is that the deviation itself becomes compelling. The players neither attempt to stylistically reconcile or dominate and what emerges is a grudgingly accepted treaty.
A subcutaneous tension propels much of the material in this program. On mid-tempo pieces such as "Stop and Go," "Road Trip" and the title track, conventional structures are augmented with Bartholomew's very personalized use of more elaborate rhythms and melodic patterns. "Lover's Lament" is the best example of the group's agility in shifting tempos and themes seamlessly. The melancholy opening is in a classical vein but changes character almost imperceptibly, guided by Bozeman's brushes. Robertson utilizes bowed and pizzicato bass in the lower register to propel the tempo. It's a fine showcase for the trio's individual talents as well as their synergy.
Out of This Town is a promising first effort from this young group of musicians. The interplay between them reflects both empathy and individuality. ZBT demonstrates a refined appreciation of harmonic architecture and a nuanced expression of improvisation. The compositions combine good melodic hooks with erratic timing in an effective angular treatment of the tunes. The pieces don't jump off the disc, as much as they inspire deliberation.
Track Listing: Stop and Go; Out of This Town; Shades of Blue; Lover's Lament; New Beginnings; Road Trip; Lazy Bird; Forever More; Another Shade of Blue.
Personnel: Zach Bartholomew: piano; Brandon Robertson: bass; Miles Bozeman: drums.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.