For those who want an indication of whether their tastes are in sync with an artist's essence, going along for a ride with multi-reedist Craig Yaremko is as straight-ahead as driving on a highway. Yet this is also someone who likes taking the scenic route. These are not detours off the main path but intrinsically threaded into the overall route so this should not upset those who prefer jazz straight-up. But this penchant can extend this leader's appeal to those who like some novelty and modernity in their listening.
The selection of music reflects Yaremko's dual ability to deliver flawlessly to both camps. Beautifully rendered standards stand comfortably shoulder to shoulder with confident originals, the latter including "Two Kings and the title track. Lennon/McCartney's "Michelle is entirely recognizable to those in the know but is transformed into an edgy and fresh existence that serves the original's poignancy and wistfulness. Antonio Carlos Jobim receives tribute in "Zingaro (aka "Portrait in Black and White ), which is stunningly portrayed, as is Monk's "Ruby, My Dear. Added to the mix are fetching compositions by Yaremko's driving partner, the highly capable trumpeter and flugelhornist Nathan Eklund.
Yaremko and Eklund snap, crackle and pop throughout this excellent recording, while bassist Bill Moring and drummer Steve Johns most effectively pump the engine of the quartet.
In a live performance at the cozy New York jazz haunt Louis 649 to celebrate the CD release, Yaremko sparkled on his various reeds with assured precision while Eric Bloom ably supplied counterpoint on trumpet and flugelhorn and Moring and New York-based veteran drummer Tim Horner expertly fueled the rhythm section to full throttle.
Track Listing: Two Kings; Sync; Time Goes; Remember; Zingaro; Topwise; Michelle; 9/19; Ruby, My Dear; Trance Prelude; Trance.
Personnel: Craig Yaremko: soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, flute, bass clarinet; Nathan Eklund: trumpet and flugelhorn; Bill Moring: bass; Steve Johns: drums.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.