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.
Track Listing: Nefarious Notions; Squatters; Champion of Honesty; Onondaga; The Business End; Legal Action; Fallout; Pow Wow; Gargoyles.
Personnel: Peter Epstein: soprano and alto saxophones; Ralph Alessi: trumpet; Tony Malaby: tenor saxophone; Josh Roseman: trombone; James Carney: acoustic and electric pianos, analog synthesizer, glockenspiel; Chris Lightcap: contrabass; Mark Ferber: drums.
I love jazz because it expresses things so deep that I can't transform in words.
I met John Pizzarelli.
The best show I ever attended was MASP in São Paulo Brazil.
The first jazz record I bought was a Baby Dodds CD.
My heroes on drums: Papa Jo Jones, Sid Catlett, Gene Krupa, Baby Dodds, Zutty Singleton, Ray Bauduc, Vernell Fournier,
Shelly Manne, Jimmy Cobb, Joe Morello, Daniel Humair, Kenny Clarke, Sonny Carr, Buddy Rich, Sam Woodyard, Cozy Cole,
Sonny Greer, Neil Peart, Carl Palmer, Tony Sbarbaro, Vic Berton, Edison Machado, Milton Banana, Rubens Barsotti.
My heroes in jazz: Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Ahmad Jamal, Coleman Hawkins, Teddy Wilson,
Barney Kessel, Lester Young, Johnny Hodges, Jelly Roll Morton.