On their third recording the trio of saxophonist Jared Sims, guitarist Eric Hofbauer, and pianist Tyson Rogers elected to add veteran bassist Cecil McBee and ubiquitous drummer-du-jour Matt Wilson. The group was formed in 1997 when the members of the trio were students at the New England Conservatory. One's impression from the liner notes is that this is their most "inside" album and they chose the added musicians for their flexibility in performing with free jazz players (McBee had worked with Pharoah Sanders and Abdullah Ibrahim) and adaptability to fit into many grooves (Wilson).
The eight compositions are all originals penned by Sims, Hofbauer and Rogers. The album is bookended by the most mainstream tunes "The Priest's Sermon" and "Dead Mouse Blues." Sims enters both on tenor sax with a muscular, metallic tone in the Michael Brecker-Bob Berg mold, while Rogers and Hofbauer come through with some tasty solo work. If the "priest" is someone named Thelonious, the tune did not strike me as an homage, despite the twists and turns of the melody. However, "Dead Mouse Blues" is an attractive and laid back composition that swings. "Abdullah" is an obvious reference to the African pianist, and Sims switches horns for a funky statement and solo and offers a good opportunity to hear the interplay between the sax and Hofbauer's guitar, followed by Roger's comping. "Molecular Mischief" is the most adventurous of the tracks. After a quiet piano intro, McBee, Wilson and Sims seem to be playing in a different phases and in jagged free jazz fashion. Wilson switches from toms to sticks and plays in counterpoint to the others. Hofbauer solos nicely.
So, who will be most attracted to this effort? The group strives to straddle the mainstream and outside playing without alienating its potential audience. It seems likely that listeners who enjoy a more bracing jazz presentation without any stratospheric displays will likely find this music to their liking.
Track Listing: The High Priest's Sermon; Until We Have Names; Abdullah; Bench Carvin'; The Old Country; Molecular Mischief; Monkey; Dead Mouse Blues
Personnel: Jared Sims (tenor and soprano saxophones), Eric Hofbauer (guitar), Tyson Rogers (piano), Cecil McBee (bass), Matt Wilson (drums)
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.