140

The New Jazz Composers Octet: The New Jazz Composers Octet

David Adler By

Sign in to view read count
Upon hearing pianist Xavier Davis’s "First Steps into Reality," which opens this album and provides its title, some might voice familiar objections. "Wait, these guys play tradition-bound hard bop and wear jackets and ties. It’s just another crop of Young Lions. Nothin’ new about it." Well, keep listening. David Weiss, founder, leader, and trumpeter of The New Jazz Composers Octet, is onto something, and it’s far more than a neocon nostalgia trip.

Compositionally speaking, Xavier Davis and alto saxophonist Myron Walden are the stars here. Walden pens the mellow yet challenging "I’ll Always Love You" and the multilayered "Untitled in A flat Minor." In addition to "First Steps," Davis contributes an harmonically ambitious waltz titled "When the Spirit Hits," as well as the quasi-"out" closer, "Liberation." It’s a logical progression: We take our "First Steps" a bit carefully, with a classic sound that recalls Birth of the Cool, and we proceed step by step toward our "Liberation," taking greater risks in the hope of greater rewards.

Bassist Dwayne Burno’s "I’m A Comin’ Home" begins and ends in ballad fashion with a chorale-like minor melody, morphing into a medium slow minor blues for the solos. Tenorist Gregory Tardy blows with restrained, elegant fire, and the late James Farnsworth, to whom the album is dedicated, takes his turn on baritone. Weiss’s trumpet solos are redoubtable on "Tribute to the Elders," "First Steps," and especially "D Minor Mint," a Freddie Hubbard composition arranged by Weiss and the one non-original of the session.

Other performance highlights include Burno’s adventurous yet solid accompaniment on "I’ll Always Love You," drummer Nasheet Waits’s inspired interaction with Davis on the same tune, and Andrew Williams’s fluid trombone solos on "First Steps" and "D Minor Mint." Someone plays flute on Walden’s "Untitled," but no flute credit is given—my hunch is that it’s Walden himself. Jimmy Greene and Dave Rickenberg replace Tardy and Farnsworth, respectively, on three tracks. Greene turns in fine solos on "D Minor Mint" and "When the Spirit Hits."

Ironically, it’s trumpeter/leader Weiss who turns in the least noteworthy chart, the hard bop grab-bag "Tribute to the Elders." Granted, the title alone tells us that Weiss was not out to foment revolution. On the whole, however, Weiss has done his part to keep jazz moving forward. This album, and this octet, are feathers in his cap for sure.

| Record Label: Blue Moon | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Circles CD/LP/Track Review Circles
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Windmills CD/LP/Track Review Windmills
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Ugly Beautiful CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beautiful
by David A. Orthmann
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Trickster CD/LP/Track Review Trickster
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Caipi CD/LP/Track Review Caipi
by Geannine Reid
Published: March 24, 2017
Read United CD/LP/Track Review United
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 23, 2017
Read "Disappearing Day" CD/LP/Track Review Disappearing Day
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 21, 2016
Read "Wild About You" CD/LP/Track Review Wild About You
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 2, 2016
Read "Paco and John - Live at Montreux 1987" CD/LP/Track Review Paco and John - Live at Montreux 1987
by John Kelman
Published: August 29, 2016
Read "Live At The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 3, 2017
Read "Flux" CD/LP/Track Review Flux
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 12, 2016
Read "Duopoly" CD/LP/Track Review Duopoly
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 26, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!