A religious man at heart, composer/band leader and producer Brian Eisenberg leads an 18-piece big band (The Brian Eisenberg Jazz Orchestra) on a personal musical exploration on the meaning of love through the perspective of what may be beautiful, and what may seem hurtful on the very introspective and challenging Pain & Beauty. The album, as he writes, "is dedicated to that ideal of genuine love...painful yet, beautiful love." Eisenberg sets the musical bar quite high on such lofty and idealistic inspiration and as such, the expectation of the music from this contemporary large ensemble is also high.
Except for the three-part suite, "The Cost of War," featuring Special guest artist Meagan Martin on Mezzo-Sprano vocals and the standard "Pure Imagination," with Christian Jacob on solo piano and the other guest artist Bob Mintzer on bass clarinet, all songs on this project were composed and arranged by producer Eisenberg. Many of the tracks here are lengthy, beginning with the opener "Battle Cry," a powerful and provocative tune highlighting performances from Fields, Iles, Henry and Wendholt.
The Title track "Pain & Beauty" is a simmering and thought-provoking statement featuring rich solos from guitarist Andrew Synowiec and horn man Wendholt on both trumpet and flugelhorn with spritely backup by the pianist and drummer. Staying true to the pain/beauty theme of the album, "Five Wounds" (of Jesus, as Eisenberg writes) turns out to be an almost eleven-minute gorgeous ballad with trumpeter Wendholt once again featured throughout aided by spurts from altoist Fields on one of the best tracks of the set.
In what seems to be a departure from the theme here, "Scram Jam" takes a different direction featuring a host of players including Brad Dutz on the vibes, in an atypical hard-bop and energetic swinging number. Tenor saxophonist Sheppard and trumpeter Ron King on flugelhorn take center stage on the marvelous "A Song for Rick," one of the other burners of the album.
Certainly not your typical straight-ahead contemporary jazz sound, this album is far more challenging and soul-searching, it is a musical journey into the mind and heart hoping to evoke feelings of love expressed in unique harmonies and melodies. Composer and band leader Brian Eisenberg produces one of his best musical statements yet on Pain & Beauty and the all-star lineup of an ensemble is one reason why.
Battle Cry; Pain & Beauty; Five Wounds; Scram Jam; A Song for Rick; Dried Corsages; Helping
Someone to Die; My
Dead Are Not Silent; Pure Imagination.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.