Based upon the packaging, I suspected that this disc would contain avant-garde or at the very least cutting-edge, Knitting Factory-type jazz. There are no liner notes, just photos of the personnel and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler's name staring me in the face. Well, my guess couldn't be further from the truth. Reinventing the World is a well-thought-out, mainstream combo recording with many fine moments.
Several critical opinions on this album have cited Mr. Middleton's environmental concerns. Perhaps these themes are reflected on his previous albums but, aside from a few titles like "Three Mile Island" and "X's For Eyes," there's not really any evidence of that here. I also gather that "Atlas Shrugged" is not a literary reference. Middleton has been compared to ECM reedman Jan Garbarek, but his style on tenor and soprano sax is much warmer than that of the Scandinavian saxman. The album begins with "Ode to Ken Saro Wiwa" in an intelligent and attractive mid-tempo melody and continues with "Les Beaux." Just like the leader's name implies, his tenor sax delivery is right down the middle, neither rushing forward nor raising the level of intensity. Likewise, his soprano sax work is pleasant, not brittle.
I've heard Kenny Wheeler on many recordings, largely on his decade-old ECM career, in a variety of genres. Here he's the perfect foil for Middleton, playing crisply with only an occasional hint at wanting to take the next note over the edge. Nils Wogram's trombone is attractive when he gets a chance on "Naugahide." For the most part, the ten original compositions are user-friendly and only on "Naugahide" does he show a more jagged melody line, a setting in which Middleton's solo is angrier. Drummer Owen Howard is featured on "Naugahide" and John Hebert takes his bass through a solo on (no surprise) "Bass Intro." Although pianist Henry Hey isn't proiminent in featured solos, his work is consistent and very supportive of the group. Now that curiosity has kicked in, I'll be checking out Middleton's Nomad's Notebook from 2000.
Track Listing: Ode to Ken Saro Wiwa, Les Beaux, Three Mile Island, Gaviotas, At the Foot of the Hill, Naugahyde, Bass Intro, Atlas Shrugged, X's For Eyes
Personnel: Andy Middleton, saxophones; Sheila Cooper, saxophones; Kenny Wheeler, trumpet,flugelhorn; Nils
Wogram,trombone; Darcy Hepner, clarinet, bass clarinet; Henry Hey,piano; John Hebert,bass; Owen
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.