All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

93

Urban Survival: Storyhill

Franz A. Matzner By

Sign in to view read count
Less than daring, Urban Survival's sophomore release, Story Hill, covers familiar territory, but unlike many contemporary releases, at least it does it dexterously.

More a survey of the contemporary jazz scene than anything else—at least the more popular contours of it—the album presents a series of tunes ranging from the Latin-tinged to basic bop, to classic bluesy swing and everything in between. Highlights of the album include a savvy cover of "Eleanor Rigby," which takes full advantage of the group's arranging skills, musical craftsmanship, and fluid interplay; the extended "Tabula Rasa"; and the ballad "Soliloquy," on which both pianist Olsen and consummate bassist Donica shine.

Less appealing are the long-winded "Fire in the Belly," the technically astute "Great Day," and "Maelstrom." This last piece opens with an intriguingly experimental, disjointed, and expressionistic group improvisation which, though out of context from the rest of the album's efforts, feels for the first few moments like a genuine effort to break the band's self-imposed mould. Unfortunately, instead of continuing down this path, the tune resolves itself into a straight-ahead blowing vehicle of generic shape and development. From a critical perspective, it is fascinating that the band's major overall hurdle is condensed within these several bars. At the risky crossroads between experiment and safely executable crowd pleasers, this self-proclaimed "all-male baby boomer jazz quartet" abandons the road less traveled for the path most often taken.

At the conclusion of this admittedly excellently performed endeavor, one is left with the distinct feeling that the members of Urban Survival enjoy their comfort zone, but that if they made the collective effort to eject themselves from it, real sparks would fly. And that is the disappointment of the album.

Track Listing: Fire in the Belly; Tabula Rasa; Eleanor Rigby; Weather or Not; Horizontal Grey; Maelstrom; I'm Old Fashionoed; Soliloquy; Great Day

Personnel: Jim Donica (bass), Eric Olsen(piano), Chris Bowman (drums), John Isley (saxophones)

Title: Storyhill | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Unknown label

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Storyhill

Storyhill

Unknown label
2004

buy

Related Articles

Read Fearless And Kind CD/LP/Track Review
Fearless And Kind
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 14, 2018
Read 25th Anniversary Project CD/LP/Track Review
25th Anniversary Project
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Any Day Now CD/LP/Track Review
Any Day Now
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Adrift CD/LP/Track Review
Adrift
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Folkjazz from Finland CD/LP/Track Review
Folkjazz from Finland
by Anthony Shaw
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Circulate Susanna CD/LP/Track Review
Circulate Susanna
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 13, 2018
Read "Země" CD/LP/Track Review Země
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: March 12, 2018
Read "Last Minute Panic" CD/LP/Track Review Last Minute Panic
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 18, 2017
Read "Perception" CD/LP/Track Review Perception
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 15, 2018
Read "Just One More Time" CD/LP/Track Review Just One More Time
by James Fleming
Published: July 8, 2018
Read "Brothers" CD/LP/Track Review Brothers
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 24, 2018
Read "My Favorite Things (1960-1969)" CD/LP/Track Review My Favorite Things (1960-1969)
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 31, 2018