Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

304

James Carney Group: Ways & Means

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Inspired by his work scoring Edward Sloman's 1925 silent film, His People, for the Syracuse International Film Festival in 2006, New York-based keyboardist James Carney continued to explore the narrative potential of cinematic structures. Funded in part by commissions from Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Carney produced Ways & Means, a "virtual film score" recorded with his regular touring group.

Steadily winding their way through this episodic suite, Carney's ensemble evinces an array of moods, ranging from austere to ardent. His septet features a killer front-line—Peter Epstein (soprano, alto), Tony Malaby (tenor), Ralph Alessi (trumpet), and Josh Roseman (trombone)—some of the most industrious players on the New York scene. With bassist Chris Lightcap and drummer Mark Ferber, they navigate Carney's atmospheric soundscapes with focused determination and effervescent élan.

Carey's formative years were spent playing in rock and pop bands—experiences which continue to influence his lyrical sensibility, both in his writing and improvising. His fifth album as a leader, Ways & Means encapsulates his compositional talents, as mellifluous melodies and lush harmonies alternate with brash contrapuntal horn charts and angular, shifting rhythms.

The album unfolds slowly, modulating effortlessly from one emotion to the next, buoyed by sophisticated, multi-layered arrangements that evoke the episodic pacing of celluloid narrative. The bittersweet opener, "Nefarious Notions," introduces the suite with plangent harmony and a string of muscular solos, while the pensive meditation "Squatters" alternates between edgy drama and brooding suspense as Carney's kaleidoscopic electric piano, Epstein's fervent alto, and Alessi's forlorn trumpet contribute to the ominous ambience. Drifting between moods, the languid opulence of "Onodaga" and "Fallout" evokes the poignant vistas of the most luxuriant film music, while "Champion Of Honesty," "The Business End," and "Pow Wow" punctuate the set with spiky, aleatoric interludes, providing the session with a seedy, futuristic film noir undercurrent.

Carney's melodious electro-acoustic approach is balanced by occasional detours into more aggressive territory. His coiled electronic cadences on "Legal Action" inspire the ensemble's most exuberant playing, featuring coruscating statements from Alessi and Malaby. Carney's bluesy acoustic variations on the Gospel-infused "Gargoyles" offer the inverse—controlled meditations that both sooth and rejuvenate the soul.

A slightly more reserved and cohesive endeavor than Carney's previous record, Green-Wood (Songlines, 2007), Ways & Means embodies the singular focus of the best film scores—a luminous statement from one of today's up and coming new composers.


Track Listing: Nefarious Notions; Squatters; Champion Of Honesty; Onodaga; The Business End; Legal Action; Fallout; Pow Wow; Gargoyles.

Personnel: 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.

Title: Ways & Means | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Ways & Means

Ways & Means

Songlines Recordings
2009

buy
Green-Wood

Green-Wood

Songlines Recordings
2007

buy
Thread

Thread

Jacaranda
2003

buy

Related Articles

Read Without You CD/LP/Track Review
Without You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 19, 2018
Read Internal Combustion CD/LP/Track Review
Internal Combustion
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 19, 2018
Read Chant Triptych II CD/LP/Track Review
Chant Triptych II
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 19, 2018
Read Oasis CD/LP/Track Review
Oasis
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 19, 2018
Read Les Oiseaux de Matisse CD/LP/Track Review
Les Oiseaux de Matisse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 19, 2018
Read Drum Solos For Dancers Only CD/LP/Track Review
Drum Solos For Dancers Only
by David A. Orthmann
Published: December 18, 2018
Read "Electric Miles" CD/LP/Track Review Electric Miles
by Jerome Wilson
Published: December 4, 2018
Read "Grime Scene" CD/LP/Track Review Grime Scene
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 20, 2018
Read "Mizu" CD/LP/Track Review Mizu
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 29, 2018
Read "Persistent Fancy" CD/LP/Track Review Persistent Fancy
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: November 30, 2018
Read "Sheroes" CD/LP/Track Review Sheroes
by Jim Worsley
Published: July 6, 2018
Read "The Nobuki Takamen Trio" CD/LP/Track Review The Nobuki Takamen Trio
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 23, 2018