Armed with solid musicianship and a spiritual belief in music, the As-Is Ensemble brings their mix of original compositions and occasional covers to venues up and down the East coast. On react, the collaborative demonstrates a variety of styles and combinations which are all to be taken "as-is."
The two-toned opener, "Acceptance," features the Latin percussion of North Carolina School of The Arts alums John C.B. Wilson and Troy Pierce along with the sambaed guitar and piano of Long Islander Marc Ciprut and composer Michael Bellar. "Dungey On The One" features SOTA grad Bellar in a more rhythmic duet with Fayetteville-born double bass player John Vernon Brown. "Now I Can Only Listen" matches a more mellow Bellar with subtle guitar and percussion backing. "A Thanks For Today-A Prayer For Tomorrow" places the listener in a casual after-hours setting, with Bellar's drifting piano dropping in and out of stride pockets and mellow rhythm trio grooves. The collaborative "Money Ain't Funky Like This" begins with a botched Cheech and Chong bit, then sneaks into a percussive third-line swing driven by Bellar's firm-handed ivory-tickling. The sixth track, "Face!", commands the listener to do just that through driving rhythms featuring Brown's nimble, buzzy bass snaps over a repetitive and occasionally draggy percussion line.
After a short cabaret piano cover of Harold Arlen's "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," the collaborative "Troy's Magic Plaything" weaves the ensemble towards a well-arranged up-tempo climax. "Trust" opens with Ciprut's guitar and Bellar's piano, making way for an extended group effort pushed forward by percussive spurts and deep rhythm runs. The penultimate track is the "super silky magic mix" of the untouchable Lennon-McCartney standard "Blackbird." Over-extended and over-played, this seven minute vocalized cover undoes the simple pleasures which had thus far been accruing along the tracks. Though only a short tease, the album's closer, "Celebrate The Life Of William Bright," gives the listener one last 'up' taste of the ensemble's full cast, washing down the hard-to-digest cover.
Overall, React1 is well-arranged and accessible and demonstrates solid musicianship and well-defined orchestration which should work well in the ensemble's many performance workshops. Be sure to watch for As-Is as they tour North Carolina, New York, and places less native to them.
Track Listing: 1. Acceptance
2. Dungey on the One
3. Now I Can Only Listen
4. Thanks for Today-A Prayer for Tomorrow
5. Money Ain't Funky Like This
7. Over the Rainbow
8. Troy's Magic Plaything
10. Blackbird [Super Silky Magic Mix]
11. Celebrate the Life of William Bright
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.