Few drummers assume the role of composer—and with rare exception when they do, the results often sacrifice the finer points of melodic and harmonic development in favor of arrangements focused on complex tempo changes, dynamic shifts, unusual rhythmic structures, and of course, extra-long drum solos. While such pieces often successfully—and justifiably—illustrate overlooked and under-appreciated aspects of drumming, they are also likely to lack broad appeal. As exhibited on The Painter, however, virtuoso instrumentalist, bandleader, arranger, and composer Ari Hoenig is an exception. Hoenig has developed an unusual capacity to create compositions as memorable for their depth as their exploration of the percussive idiom.
Consisting of six original tunes and two standards, The Painter was recorded live at Fat Cat in New York last September and successfully captures the remarkable energy and highly developed rapport shared by bandmates Hoenig, Jean-Michel Pilc (piano), Jacques Schwartz-Bart (tenor sax), and Matt Penman (bass). The album opens with an inventive rendition of Monk’s “I Mean You,” before turning to the six Hoenig pieces. The leader contributes a continuously inventive stream of rhythmic ideas throughout, mixing bravura displays with nuanced support of the band.
Highlights include the elaborate title track, which showcases Hoenig’s ability to combine sticks and brushes to extract an incredible range of sounds from his set; the introspective “Remembering”; Jacques-Schwartz-Bart’s intensely personal performance on his co-authored “Condemnation”; and an unusual, poignant arrangement of “Summertime.”
An album of exceptional quality performed by a close-knit group of phenomenally talented, deeply passionate musicians, The Painter is a must. See them live to experience the intensity, listen at home to discover the subtlety.
1. I Mean You 2. The Painter 3. For Tracy 4. Condemnation 5. Remembering 6. Birdless 7. Pilc-ing Around 8. Summertime
Ari Hoenig: Drums;
Matt Penman: Bass;
Jacques Schwartz-Bart: Tenor Sax.
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