381

New Jazz Composers Octet: The Turning Gate

Greg Camphire By

Sign in to view read count
New Jazz Composers Octet: The Turning Gate From the first track on The Turning Gate, it's obvious that the New Jazz Composers Octet has spent considerable quality time together since their founding in 1996. The sheer number of hours spent writing, arranging, and playing material has strengthened this fresh ensemble into a superior example of jazz excellence. With each member working at the top of their game, the NJCO balances cohesion and freedom to create a listening experience that is always satisfying and often transcendent.

The Turning Point deals with several long-form compositions and a multi-section suite; all of them are classy, swinging, and edgy. The performances are full of nuance and shifting counterpoint, and each player sounds engaging in their own ways. Reference points include the warmth of the Duke Ellington Orchestra's elegant swagger, or the wild commotion of Charles Mingus' groups. But the NJCO takes those influences and operates under the maxim of "do as they do, not what they do."

Drummer Nasheet Waits is stellar, overflowing with boldly inventive ideas and a crisp attack that drives the ensemble while underlining all the details. Tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene is searing and soulfully intense, soloing on "David and Goliath" to build up a fierce dialogue among the other brass players. Myron Walden's alto sax is full of superb surprises as well, twisting and turning his way through the knotty playfulness of "Bad Alchemy."

Pianist Xavier Davis, an exemplary player who deserves more props, is pristine throughout. And trumpeter David Weiss, in addition to his leadership and compositional skills, just kills it with poignant solos. A case in point is the moody ballad "Once," wherein Weiss makes a compelling statement before passing the baton to the pianist, who picks right up on the romantic vibe with a characteristically creamy cascade of notes.

The band really shines on Xavier Davis' "The Faith Suite," which unfolds over six sections in the album's second half.The movements are alternately peaceful, turbulent, and ambiguous—just like the nature of the subject matter. "In the Beginning" takes the listener on an intriguing and winding pathway, as a meditative feeling takes hold. "Twilight" picks up the pace, offering moments of carefully orchestrated abandon and developing into a bright, clean melody. During "The Doubtful," Steve Davis' trombone spouts inquisitive poetry, prodded by the horn section and underscored by a march rhythm that advances towards an unresolved ending.

The bustling traffic of "Panic" evokes a frantic chase scene that threatens to spiral out of control. The cats in the band are all on fire here, burning through the chart and mimicking all the qualities that the title suggests. Finally, "Onward" points to new directions with a stunning arrangement of harmonic voices, majestic, and mysterious. Walden's turn on flute is astonishing here, while the whole band develops a breath-like momentum throughout the piece.

The Turning Gate marks a high point in 21st century acoustic jazz. The NJCO's soulful artistry and memorable compositions reveal subtle yet significant shifts in the ongoing evolution of the tradition.

Track Listing: The Turning Gate; New; David and Goliath; Once; Bad Alchemy; The Faith Suite (I; In the Beginning; II; Twilight; III; The Doubtful; IV; Panic); Onward.

Personnel: David Weiss; trumpet; Xavier Davis; piano; Myron Walden; alto saxophone; Dwayne Burno; bass; Steve Davis; trombone; Jimmy Greene; tenor and soprano saxophone; Nasheet Waits; drums; Norbert Stachel; baritone sax.

Title: The Turning Gate | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Motema Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Company I Keep CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ma De Re Sha CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ask Seek Knock CD/LP/Track Review Ask Seek Knock
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Air and Light and Time and Space CD/LP/Track Review Air and Light and Time and Space
by John Eyles
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Eleven Cages CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Cages
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Afro-Caribbean Mixtape CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "The Wild" CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Over the Rainbow" CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Transparent Water" CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Serenity Knolls" CD/LP/Track Review Serenity Knolls
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 14, 2017
Read "Live: SFJAZZ Center 2016 - Music of Miles Davis & Original Compositions" CD/LP/Track Review Live: SFJAZZ Center 2016 - Music of Miles Davis &...
by John Kelman
Published: June 13, 2017
Read "Discoveries on Tracker Action Organs" CD/LP/Track Review Discoveries on Tracker Action Organs
by John Eyles
Published: January 21, 2017

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.