All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

3

The Jim Olsen Ensemble: We See Stars

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
For We See Stars, Oregon-based composer / arranger Jim Olsen has pared his usual big band down to a more manageable tentet but hasn't lessened the ebullience and ingenuity that are invariably a part of Olsen's broad palette. The album, Olsen says, evolved from a casual post-concert conversation in which he asked trumpeter Bobby Shew and saxophonist Dick Oatts, longtime friends and colleagues who had performed and recorded together in the past, if they would consider teaming up to do it again. Instead of brushing aside his request, Shew and Oatts embraced the idea, and it wasn't long before Olsen had faced a piano, written some new music and assembled a band to play it, with the two superstars as its nucleus.

Among the characteristics of Olsen's music that stand out are rhythmic vitality and harmonic variety, the first of which propels the band inflexibly forward while the second provides an alluring sonic counterpoint. Shew and Oatts are wholly at ease within that shifting framework, as their tasteful solos clearly affirm. Oatts' alto is showcased with the splendid pianist John Harmon on the aptly named "Wistful," Shew's flugelhorn, again with Harmon, on the ethereal "We See Stars," which precedes the bright, well-grooved finale, "Running Amok," on which Shew and Oatts provide yet another sample of their improvisational artistry.

Earlier, there are effective solos by other members of the ensemble including alto / soprano saxophonist Hashem Assadullahi, tenor Lynn Baker, trumpeter Dana Heitman and trombonist Glenn Bonney, none of whom is found wanting. As for the rhythmic framework, it is in the capable hands of Harmon, bassist Andrea Niemiec and drummer Jason Palmer, with percussionist Mike Snyder joining in on "We See Stars" and "Dark Sun." Speaking of which, that theme is Olsen's shadowy take on Lionel Hampton's jazz standard, "Midnight Sun." Without going into specifics, every other tune is thematic as well. By name, they are "Scary Hair," "Illogical Conclusion," "Shard" and "What Needs to Be Said." Shew and Oatts solo on every one save "Dark Sun," while Olsen adds an alto flute solo on "Shard."

Even though Olsen didn't expect much from what was basically a casual chat with a couple of fellow musicians, wouldn't it be nice if other such conversations were to produce the same kind of results. The stars truly were aligned that day, and Olsen has made the most of his good fortune on We See Stars.

Track Listing: Scary Hair; Dark Sun; Illogical Conclusion; Shard; What Needs to Be Said; Wistful; We See Stars; Running Amok.

Personnel: Jim Olsen: composer, arranger, flutes; Bobby Shew: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dana Heitman: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dick Oatts: alto, soprano sax; Hashem Assadullahi: alto, soprano sax; Lynn Baker: tenor, soprano sax; Glenn Bonney: trombone; John Harmon: piano, electric piano; Andrea Niemiec: basses; Jason Palmer: drums; Mike Snyder: congas, percussion.

Title: We See Stars | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: OA2 Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Scary Hair

Scary Hair

Jim Olsen
We See Stars

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
We See Stars

We See Stars

OA2 Records
2014

buy

Related Articles

Read 9 CD/LP/Track Review
9
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 19, 2018
Read For Gyumri CD/LP/Track Review
For Gyumri
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Sextet (Parker) 1993 CD/LP/Track Review
Sextet (Parker) 1993
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Esperanto/Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim CD/LP/Track Review
Esperanto/Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim
by Kevin Press
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Orientation CD/LP/Track Review
Orientation
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Romaria CD/LP/Track Review
Romaria
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 18, 2018
Read "Esse" CD/LP/Track Review Esse
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 5, 2017
Read "Rising Tide" CD/LP/Track Review Rising Tide
by Geannine Reid
Published: May 16, 2017
Read "Lyn Stanley – The Moonlight Sessions, Volume 2" CD/LP/Track Review Lyn Stanley – The Moonlight Sessions, Volume 2
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 12, 2017
Read "Flying Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Flying Heart
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 23, 2018
Read "Avant-Garde Party Music" CD/LP/Track Review Avant-Garde Party Music
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 26, 2017
Read "High Time" CD/LP/Track Review High Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 26, 2017