Canadian drummer Barry Romberg (who played last month as the drive behind the large ensemble NOJO at Jazz Standard) has released the third part of his Random Access series. As with previous installments, he has gathered together a noteworthy cadre of his friends that include some of Canada's top jazz musicians to present a percussively led paradise of sound. In this case, nine musicians join Romberg in various combinations for a completely original program.
There is a definite fusion feel to these offerings. This is in no small part due to Romberg employing synth and electric percussion alongside his more standard drum kit, and pianists Greg de Denus and Adrean Farrugia choosing Rhodes instrumentation. Hugh Marsh's highly inventive electric violin and the sometimes searing electric guitar stylings of Geoff Young likewise steer things in this direction. However, top Canadian horn man Kevin Turcotte's cool Miles-like trumpet and newcomer saxophonist Kelly Jefferson are able to play off this electronic stew to make for many intriguing encounters. Romberg himself is able to go both ways, as he does on the quirky "Day 23 and the marvelously broad opus "The Two Elvins. For the latter, brilliant bassist Kieran Overs keeps things rhythmically focused while he alternately permits the free bluesy feel of "Not a Speck of Cereal.
All twelve of these cuts feature complex rhythms upon which each instrumental soloist is able to impart their own melodic take to make for interesting counterpoint. "The Long Haul, with free formish first and third movements that don't quite fit in with its frenetically structured middle, is an apt tribute to "beat writer Charles Bukowski. While Turcotte excels at coolly soaring, as he does on tunes like the all-too-short "A Peace of Mind, and Jefferson admirably bops on "Good Morning Mr. Phelps, Marsh's playing, including pizzicato baritone violin, is textural and otherworldly, adding to an overall absorbing rhythmical fabric.
Track Listing: Day 23, The Two Elvins, On the Lamb, A Peace of Mind, Good Morning Mr. Phelps, Serenity Now, Unneccesary Celebration, Easy Forward, The Plastics, Big Rotten, Not a Spec of Cereal, The Long Haul
Personnel: Barry Romberg: drums, electric percussion, synth; Hugh Marsh--violins; Kevin Turcotte--trumpet; Kelly Jefferson--saxophones; Geoff Young--guitar; Levon Ichkanian--guitar; Rich Brown--bass; Adrean Farrugia--fender rhodes; Greg De Denus--fender rhodes
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.