All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

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

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 with whom you can be who you are CD/LP/Track Review
with whom you can be who you are
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Inner Core CD/LP/Track Review
Inner Core
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Dirigo Rataplan II CD/LP/Track Review
Dirigo Rataplan II
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 21, 2018
Read The Window CD/LP/Track Review
The Window
by Chris Mosey
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Mønk CD/LP/Track Review
Mønk
by Chris May
Published: September 20, 2018
Read The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming CD/LP/Track Review
The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2018
Read "Elusive" CD/LP/Track Review Elusive
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 23, 2017
Read "A Sequence of Waves (Twelve Stories and a Dream)" CD/LP/Track Review A Sequence of Waves (Twelve Stories and a Dream)
by Paul Naser
Published: December 8, 2017
Read "Provenance" CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 4, 2017
Read "Edmund Rubbra – The Sacred Muse" CD/LP/Track Review Edmund Rubbra – The Sacred Muse
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 31, 2018
Read "Invisible Threads" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Threads
by Samuel Stroup
Published: January 24, 2018
Read "Vidas Simples" CD/LP/Track Review Vidas Simples
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 19, 2018