Pianist James Carney takes the parameters involved in scoring films and applies them with the discipline of a jazz composer on the ambitious Ways & Means, the kind of challenging and cohesive work that listeners have come to expect from this exemplary musician.
Carney's band is as great a gathering of talent as one can find and they don't waste a note in his intricate arrangements. The excellence of Tony Malaby's tenor and Josh Roseman's trombone drive "Nefarious Notions"; Carney blends acoustic and synthesized sounds to produce a wonderful aural bouquet on the epic "Squatters," Peter Epstein adding a sprite of a soprano sax above Mark Ferber's impatient cymbal tapping, while trumpeter Ralph Alessi doesn't play a solo as much as sing an aria. The improvised "Champion of Honesty," which opens with someone (probably Alessi) mumbling into his horn, sounds like Satan's Philharmonic warming up before a concert.
Carney's layered keyboard work paces the eerie "Onondaga," with Ferber's measured drumming and Epstein's passionate soprano building up the tension. "Legal Action" sounds like a marriage between jazz and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. "Pow Wow" is a free jazz type of improv that sounds like something Charles Mingus or John Coltrane might have assembled. Even the ballad "Gargoyles," a touching tribute to Carney's late drummer Dan Morris, is just as rich with the layered interplay that defines the disc.
To say that Carney is simply a jazz musician would be somewhat off the mark. With all of the styles and influences he seamlessly integrates on Ways & Means, his music would disintegrate the boundaries of any single genre into which one might try to place it.
Nefarious Notions; Squatters; Champion Of Honesty; Onodaga; The Business End; Legal Action; Fallout; Pow Wow; Gargoyles.
James Carney: acoustic and electric piano, analog synth, glockenspiel; Peter Epstein: soprano and alto saxophone; Tony Malaby: tenor saxophone; Ralph Alessi: trumpet; Josh Roseman: trombone; Chris Lightcap: contrabass; Mark Ferber: drums.
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.