A prime exponent of the Cecil Taylor school of modern-free jazz piano, Virginia resident Joel Futterman also exhibits admirable capabilities as a saxophonist, (primarily the curved soprano sax) and flutist while having recorded with innovators such as Hal Russell, Joseph Jarman and Jimmy Lyons among others. With over 20 recordings to his credit we now take a peek into some of Futterman's recent accomplishments on the Kali Records label as he performs with modern day pioneers, bassist William Parker, New Orleans' esteemed saxophonist, educator, Edward "Kidd" Jordan and guitarist Jimmy Williams.
With three 1999 releases under his belt, to coincide with a hefty touring schedule, Joel Futterman seemingly enjoys quite a bit of activity as an improvising artist. Of course the residuals often generate increasing notoriety yet Futterman is not associated with any one specific movement or trend-setting environment i.e. The New York Downtown Scene orThe Chicago Free-Jazz scene (although Futterman is a Chicago native). However, Futterman adds new meaning to the word - conviction as his inspiring and often mind-boggling sense of momentum and flux can only be matched by a select few which is glaringly evident on his recording with bassist William Parker and guitarist Jimmy Williams titled, Authenticity.
The 39-minute opus titled, "Authenticity Part One" gets off to an expeditious start thanks to William Parker's resonant yet often-muscular attack as guitarist Jimmy Williams and Futterman - who doubles up on curved soprano sax, expound upon fluctuating themes thus giving way to extensive dialogue. Throughout, the musicians reveal an energetic spirit while bestowing new meaning to artistic expressionism as the trio converges, backs off and redesigns the overall flow and meter. More often than not, Futterman provides the backbone or framework for the ongoing rhythmic developments and the often-cataclysmic impact found within many of these pieces, which is largely due to his powerful percussive crescendos and complex left-right hand progressions. With "Authenticity Part One", the pianist toggles between piano, curved soprano sax and what sounds like a small tin flute as he suggests or ruminates brief themes like some sort of avant-garde pied piper. Overall, we can safely state that the passionate inter-communication, vehement stride and multifarious abstractions might suggest something indicative of a perilous journey...The musicians pursue peppery flurries and spurious dialogue on the piece, "Authenticity Part Two" as the band seemingly enacts some bizarre form of hide and seek!
Futterman and Jimmy Williams work as a duo on Relativity which is comprised of ten tracks that are titled, "Relativity" yet are listed in inverted order. On (track 1), "Relativity 10" Williams executes darting, jabbing and rapidly executed single note lines which often reminded this writer of modern jazz guitarist Joe Morris. Williams bends and distorts his notes on "Relativity 8" as if he were emulating an ecstatic or highly emotional human voice in accordance with Futterman's circuitous and highly conversational clusters. The duo injects intersecting lines and sharp angles amid judicious sentiment and colorful vistas augmented by fierce intentions as Futterman propels these modulating themes onto a higher realm.
Renowned tenor saxophonist, educator and one of the few notable or active practitioners of free/modern-jazz musicians emanating out of the New Orleans area, Edward "Kidd" Jordan teams with Futterman on the "live" recording titled, Revelation. Jordan and Futterman (performing on his curved soprano sax) - trade fervent choruses on the opening cut, "Revelation Part One". The duo melds wistful yet potent themes in synchronous fashion as Jordan's reverence for the blues presents an interesting proposition while the twin saxophonist's trade heated fours and fragmented themes. Hence, tumultuous dialogue ensues. Again, Futterman firms up the underlying crosscurrents as he subsidizes his saxophone excursions with a cavalcade of booming chords performed on piano. Ever the colorist and protagonist, Futterman thrives on impulsive notions while seemingly compelled to alter the tone and flow with brief spurts and jagged notes, which of course affirms his deeply personalized visions and artful improvisational speak...Jordan's barrel-toned tenor sax sound meshes well with Futterman's torrid inventions on piano during "Revelation Part 4" as the musicians execute with a sense of supreme urgency which elicits imagery of fighting the crowded New York City Subways. "Revelation Part 6" features Futterman's linear yet crashing accumulation of chords as the duo attains somewhat of a pinnacle of emotional outpourings, accelerated by Jordan's plaintive cries and Futterman's deft ruminations on piano.
Joel Futterman's adventurous conceptual approaches, multidimensional frameworks and acute realizations firmly secure his rather impressionable stature within this ever-evolving art form. And while performing with esteemed notables such as William Parker, Kidd Jordan and Jimmy Williams, Futterman tends to supersede any preconceived expectations.
Visit the Kali Records website at: www.kalirecords.com
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.