Violinist Jason Anick and pianist Jason Yeager share an open-minded approach to jazz. Anick is best known as a member of the neo-Gypsy Jazz ensemble Rhythm Future Quartet , while Yeager performs post-bop and third stream music. But this album presents a mostly original, eclectic collection of music where both of them frequently step out of character. Even the cover choices are eclectic: two compositions from the Polish violinist Zbigniew Seifert; George Harrison's "Something;" and Miles Davis' "All Blues."
Yeager's "Achi" opens the set with propulsive, Israeli-inspired rhythm, and introduces the core quartet with bassist Greg Loughman and drummer Mike Connors. Anick's "Bird's Eye View" has a tango feel, and benefits from the first guest, alto saxophonist Clay Lyons. "Well Red" features the first appearance of Anick's mandolinwhich provides a refreshing contrast every time he uses it in place of the violinbut it's really a feature for Yeager. He takes a lengthy unaccompanied piano solo, a beautiful lyrical showcase, before the band re-enters. The Seifert tune "Turbulent Power" finds guest saxophonist George Garzone supplying much of the power.
The cover of George Harrison's "Something" brings the mandolin forward as lead instrument. They play it pretty straight, with some crafty little alterations in the tune and the accompaniment patterns. It's easy to imagine a jazz guitarist or bluegrass mandolinist equally well taking Amick's role in the arrangement. "La Segunda" also features the mandolin, this time in partnership with the piano, playing a folkloric sounding theme with an Argentine rhythm. The program closes with the two Jasons in violin/piano duet, a loose, playful cover of Miles Davis' "All Blues." No dramatic rearrangement here, just an elegant treatment that breathes fresh life into what is fast becoming a chestnut.
Everything about United is a joy: the playing, the choice of material, and the unfettered way that musical genre is ignored. Jazz violin fans, especially, should not miss it. Jason Anick is a special player indeed.
Achi; Bird's Eye View; Well Red; Stillness; Harlem Hoedown; Something;
Turbulent Plover; Sweet Pea; La Segunda; All Blues.
Jason Anick: violin, mandolin; Jason Yeager: piano; Greg Loughman: bass (1-3, 6-8); Mike Connors: drums (1-3, 6-8); John Lockwood: bass (5, 9); Jerry Leake: percussion (5-9); Jason Palmer: trumpet (3, 5); Clay Lyons: alto saxophone (2); George Garzone: tenor saxophone (7).
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