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Bruce Lindsay reviews Tom Tallitsch “Heads or Tales”…

Tenor saxophonist Tom Tallitsch makes his Posi-Tone debut with Heads Or Tales, a welcome addition to that label’s impressively strong roster of straight-ahead and swinging musicians. Tallitsch has a warm tone, a lyrical and flowing style and an ability to craft solos that add to the narrative of his compositions: qualities that make the tunes—all but one his own compositions—immediately accessible, yet capable of rewarding repeated listening with fresh revelations.

While Heads And Tales is his label debut, it’s actually the Cleveland-born, New York-based saxophonist’s fourth album since the self-produced Duality (2005). It’s the sound of an experienced and confident player; his tenor saxophone sound is stamped across the album, either crafting melodies or delivering finely-judged solos, but he never attempts to overwhelm his band mates, never outstays his welcome and never stretches a tune too far. There are plenty of other players who could learn from Tallitsch’s economy of composition and interpretation.

Guitarist Dave Allen is a strongly melodic player and an emphatic second lead voice. His single-note playing flows beautifully, giving his solos a fluidity and grace that matches Tallitsch’s own. “Double Shot” and “Flat Stanley” find Allen and Tallitsch trading fast-paced lines, while slower tunes, like the cool swinger “Travel Companion” and balladic “Perry’s Place,” give them space to share more reflective phrases underpinned by Jared Gold’s Hammond organ.

Gold can almost be described as Posi-Tone’s house organist, with numerous appearances on the label as leader or sideman. He is a consistently fine player, with a great sense of dynamics and a swinging, rhythmical, style. He forms an excellent partnership with drummer Mark Ferber, sharing a tough, driving, approach to the music that helps to build its power and excitement. Gold also contributes an imaginative array of tones, and some telling individual contributions such as his intense, tight solo on “Tenderfoot.”

Tallitsch closes with an unusual choice of cover tunes, Neil Young’s classic, “Don’t Let It Bring You Down.” Tallitsch plays it straight—his version just 20 seconds longer than Young’s original on After The Goldrush (Reprise, 1970)—but ensures that his saxophone sound retains the mood of Young’s lyric. It’s just one facet of Tallitsch’s abilities, as Heads Or Tales makes abundantly and enjoyably clear.

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Lucid Culture reviews Ralph Bowen “Total Eclipse”…

Ralph Bowen Flips the Script

If you were looking for a sequel to saxophonist Ralph Bowen’s 2011 release, Power Play, you won’t get it, at least not this time around. This blog called that one “hard-hitting, purposeful and tuneful beyond belief” and ranked it as one of last year’s five best jazz albums. Bowen’s new album Total Eclipse is quite a change. Although Jared Gold’s B3 anchors the tunes here, it’s hardly your typical organ-and-sax record. It’s as if Bowen decided to totally flip the script and do pensive and opaque instead of rigorously melodic. This one’s also a lot more rhythmically complex, but if you hang with it, it grows on you, with thoughtful and impactful playing from the rest of the band as well, Mike Moreno on guitar and the nonpareil Rudy Royston (of JD Allen’s trio) on drums. Bowen is playing a pair of cd release shows at Smalls this weekend, June 8 and 9 at 10 PM with a slightly different lineup, Gold on organ plus Freddie Bryant on guitar and Donald Edwards behind the kit.

All this is not to say that there isn’t memorable tunesmithing here. The closing cut, a soul ballad titled In My Dreams, begins with a nebulous, suspenseful sway and then artfully juxtaposes mysterioso ambience with Bowen’s warm, bucolic lead lines. A lickety-split showcase for Royston’s precise machine-gun attack, the funky Hip Check works clever rhythmic permutations on staggered sax clusters. Continuing in reverse order, the ten-minute epic Exosphere is the most ambitious and memorable track here. Beginning as a somewhat altered, anthemic soul tune held down by a signature Royston rumble, they go into tiptoe swing for a bit, Bowen adding some unexpectedly tasty microtones and chromatics, then bring it down ominous and suspenseful for a long, chordally-charged organ solo that Royston eventually can’t resist bringing out of the murk.

Arrows of Light alternates tricky funk with purposeful swing, Bowen setting an apprehensive tone early on that Moreno and Gold bring even higher in turn with a chromatic intensity. On Green (as in “go on green”), which precedes it, works a casual-versus-tense dichotomy, a pervasive sense of the unexpected finally resolving into a sense of triumph on the wings of Gold’s insistent, unpredictably stabbing chords. They set that one up with The Dowsing Rod, a similar tension (Bowen calm and bucolic, Gold on edge) resolving picturesquely when they suddenly hit the water table. There’s also the swaying, offbeat Into the City, sort of a polyrhythmic take on a go-go theme with some smartly intricate beatwise interplay between Bowen and Gold; Behind the Curtain, with pensive syncopation, Gold artfully shadowing a casually piercing Moreno solo (his fat, slightly reverb-tinged tone here always raises the intensity factor); and the opening, title track, brightly swinging but avoiding any type of resolution. Why explain these tracks in reverse? Because the album makes more sense that way: start with the catchy stuff and work your way back to the more abstruse numbers and everything makes more sense. It’s out now on Posi-Tone.

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JazzWrap writes up Tom Tallitsch “Heads or Tales”…

You know those albums that you fall in love with immediately after about two songs in–well this one of those albums. Tom Tallitsch delivers a killer does on hard bop that is fueled by both some heavy chops as well as crisp songwriting. His fourth album (first for Posi-Tone), Heads Or Tales is simply an awesome display of muscle and dynamics.
Like a late night jam session, Heads Or Tales kicks off in fine form with “Coming Around,” a real barn-burner. Tallitsch rips through a number of chords and his newly assembled quartet adds fuel to the fire with Allen and Gold sparking hot exchanges that match the saxophonist’s muscle.

The luscious ballad, “Perry’s Place,” is absorbing. Tallitsch gives a deep soulful performance that instantly grabs you. Gold’s organ stays close with a rhythm providing strong effect. Feber’s drums are tempered here but still add soft touches just under the melody.

“Travel Companion” is a well paced midtempo piece in which Tallitsch allows Gold and Allen to show-off some solid individuality. Tallitsch comes back in to bring the band home with some warm tones as closing notes.

“Dunes” moves along swiftly and sweetly. Ferber conjures up some nice patterns that rise and fall alongside Tallitsch rhythms. Allen lays down some chords that felt almost early George Benson-esque. For some reason I kept gravitating back to this track. There’s something quietly entrancing and beautiful about the harmonies that you might find as well.

Closing out on Neil Young’s “Don’t Let Bring You Down” is pretty brave. And you almost don’t recognize it until you get to the chorus. This introspective ballad gets a heavy treatment that ends up being more surprising than you would originally imagine. It’s treated with care but still creating its own identity.
Heads Or Tales is more than just another solid session for Tom Tallitsch. It’s a document that really should awaken the eyes and ears of many would need to know his name and his skill as a composer and musician.
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Lucid Culture reviews Tom Tallitsch “Heads or Tales”…

Vivid, Catchy, Intense Compositions from Tom Tallitsch

Saxophonist Tom Tallitsch has a strong, diverse and thoroughly enjoyable album, Heads or Tales, out recently with Jared Gold on organ,Dave Allen on guitar and the semi-ubiquitous Mark Ferber on drums. Tallitsch plays with a slightly smoky tone and a light touch, heavy on the nuance which makes him sneaky fast – when he has to drive home a particular phrase, it doesn’t take a lot of effort. The result is impeccable taste: the melodies get plenty of time to breathe here. There are no stampedes to the finish line, but there’s a terrific amount of sympatico playing and strong compositions. Don’t file this one away in the postbop ghetto.

Maybe this is par for course from a guy who can be very allusive, but the album starts off on a bit of a wishy-washy if well-played note with the rhythmically tricky Coming Around, a sort of warmup with lots of steady minor blues scales from Tallitsch and Allen. Then they give you the gem, Tenderfoot, which sounds like a Marc Ribot noir classic, but done as straight-up jazz rather than dramatic, cinematic main title theme. Beginning as a staggered bolero, morphing into a slinky organ boogie lit up by suspenseful staircases by Tallitsch, they swing it through a series of Middle Eastern-tinged riffs and then out with graceful filigrees from Allen. It’s one of the most evocative jazz songs you’ll hear this year.

They follow that up with the briskly walking Double Shot, which is essentially a souped-up blues with Gold at the absolute top of his game as trickster, setting up a satisfying series of alley-oops from Allen early on, harmonizing with Tallitsch and then casually making his way through a cruelly tricky series of right-vs-left rhythms when it’s time for a solo. By contrast, Perry’s Place could be a lakehouse theme – it seems to be the kind of joint where you can start the day at noon with a hot dog and a couple of bloody marys. Contentment and good companionship shine through Allen’s slow, richly judicious solo, Gold’s sunny midsummer chords and then Tallitsch’s methodical arc to a crescendo. Gold goes back to ham it up again in the funk-infused Flat Stanley; later on, The Lummox is Tallitsch’s moment to draw a caricature – in this case, of somebody who’s basically a hopeless doofus even if they have a serious side.

There are three more tunes here. Travel Companion swings with a carefree but purposeful vibe, Tallitsch reaching for the lows on tenor, Gold switching up his pedal rhythm artfully. Dunes vividly depicts a rolling, crepuscular tableau, a suspenseful series of shifts between sax and organ that Allen eventually gets to spice up with additional bounce. The album winds up with Neil Young’s Don’t Let It Bring You Down, done as you would pretty much expect, understatedly and tastefully, after hearing everything that came before. You could call this a good driving record, and it is, but the thought and creativity that went into it obviously transcends that label: the more you hear it, the better it gets. Another winner from Posi-Tone.

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Brent Black takes on Ralph Bowen “Total Eclipse”…

Swing is rhythmic feel or groove created by the musical interaction or chemistry between the performers. Swing or this “groove” manifests itself in a visceral response essentially music your feel with your hips and feel with your feet.
With a total solar eclipse the Sun’s corona can be seen shining in all directions around the moon. This glimpse of the corona is breathtaking as this is the only time the corona can be seen.
While this somewhat academic explanation may seem odd as applied to Ralph Bowen’sTotal Eclipse allow the idea of Bowen as the celestial body and his first call trio that passes through this release as the breathtaking corona that highlights the intense swing of Ralph Bowen.

There are a million tenor players in the naked city with many having the ability to play the notes but not make the music. Bowen is a master technician who blows with the precision of a surgeon while drawing an intense lyrical swing from a visceral place most players can play thirty years and still not find. Shying away from the word “sidemen” we have Jared Gold on organ who is the perfect musical visionary for his role on this or virtually any other recording I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Mike Moreno adds texture and swagger to an ensemble that are far more than just a handful of some of the better “sidemen” you can find. Moreno may well be the equivalent of sonic glue in bringing the rhythm section together. Rudy Royston is perhaps one of the most underrated drummers working the scene today. If Royston is on a release the rhythm section will be tight and the pocket will be held firmly in hand by Royston.

Opening with the title track “Total Eclipse” the straight ahead power of Bowen will hit you right between the eyes. A hard edged lyrical sense of purpose as the groove laid down by the ensemble and especially the first rate solo turned in by Gold is a thing of beauty. Seemingly working without a harmonic net this 4tet goes for it and takes no prisoners. A release of all originals can be somewhat of a musical roll of the dice but not for Bowen whose tunes can take one make to the days of Blue Note and Impulse which was when real swing was king. Posi-Tone can lay claim to a huge chunk of that crown now. The somewhat soulful ballad oriented “The Dowsing Rod” differs totally in style. While the lyrical drive is never absent the intensity is transferred nicely to a tune that showcases Bowen’s versatility not only in compositions that can go slightly more post bop influenced but in his mastery of improvisational consistency that is seldom heard. Moreno clean single note runs move deftly in and out of a tune that develops its own organic pulse and finds a musical happy place between post bop and modern jazz. “Hip Check” has Royston checking in with an opening solo that is more of an instructional guide or masterclass for those with drumming aspirations. Bowen is on fire with an improvisational firepower most tenor players struggle to pull off with this kind of intensity and direction.

While there is no doubt Ralph Bowen can swing like a beast perhaps the most captivating aspect of Total Eclipse is the variety and texture. Taking a sonic page from the ECM playbook there is an ebb and flow that allows this release to give up a little something new with each subsequent spin of disc. This is not a release for the jazz faint of heart. This is meat and potatoes swing that you can sink your teeth into. At times Total Eclipse is the perfect example of controlled sonic fury. My sincere hope this is not the last we have heard from this particular 4tet. A swing that is hard, honest and with a strong sense of lyrical direction this my friends is what swing is all about!

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Another review for Jared Gold “Golden Child”…

Jared Gold credits Larry Young, Don Patterson, and Jack McDuff as influences. His multifaceted style landed him gigs with John Abercrombie, Adam Nussbaum, and Don Braden. His adventurous original compositions and fresh takes on standards have distinguished him among his contemporaries. Gold’s latest “Golden Child” (Positone) is feel good music! Guitarist Ed Cherry and drummer Quincy Davis lay down the rhythmic base, and it’s difficult not to tap your foot or move with the music. Gold’s originals such as “A Change is Gonna Come,” “Hold That Thought,” and “14 Carat Gold” all have soulful melodies and funky grooves. Gold’s treatment of Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” is very lyrical. “I Wanna Walk” is a medium swinger that grooves hard and provides an excellent change of pace. It features an understated solo by Cherry that serves as a springboard for one of Gold’s most dynamic solos on the record. Duke Ellington’s classic ballad “In a Sentimental Mood” is played at a medium tempo with a few subtle re-harmonizations in the head.  “Times Up” is a modern up-tempo swing tune that is highlighted by an explosive drum solo by Davis. The march-like “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South” concludes the record and is another example of how well this groups swings.

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Another positive review for Jared Gold “Out of Line”…

With the musical irony for this tenor player being nothing hits my musical sweet spot harder than a B3, Jared Gold is the epitome of the groove, swing and spontaneity that is a top flight organ ensemble while developing his own style. Gold is a B3 visionary with one foot in tradition and the other foot pushing the groove as far and as tight as possible while never tripping that self indulgent landmine lesser talents so frequently find. Out Of Line is the epitome of everything good that is the B3 sound. Raw yet with a lyrical sense of purpose and direction this foot to the floor release does not just push the envelope of harmonic exploration of the B3 – the envelope is sent certified mail!
A somewhat eclectic mix is right in Gold’s wheelhouse. The 1967 tune from Hank Mobley “An Aperitif” kicks things off with Gold and saxophonist Chris Cheek playing as one. This musical cohesion and chemistry continues throughout this stellar release and is somewhat reminiscent of the old Blue Note sound from which the Mobley tune originated. The Gold original “Preachin'” is a groove you can use. Making old school new cool is not easy unless you happen to be Jared Gold. Covering Stevie Wonder is a musical roll of the dice for any artist but Gold digs deep and opens up with a more soulful spin that is as inventive as it is engaging. Having reviewed more lame vocal disasters on the classic “Skylark” (there are no vocals on this release), Gold does an odd metered arrangement showing his keen sense of melody and the ability to work without a harmonic net. “Skylark” is the prime example of why I referred to Gold as a visionary on his most recent release for Posi-Tone.
Jared Gold does not seem to be on a mission to make a living doing Jimmy Smith or Charles Earland covers. Gold is doing a riff on himself while clearly establishing his voice on the B3 as original, innovative and at times adventurous. Out Of Line is on point every step of the way and highly recommended for the organ enthusiast!
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A fresh take on Dan Pratt “Toe The Line”…

To toe the line implies a strict adherence to follow the rules. So right away the title is certainly a contradiction in terms but the end result is a remarkable organ quartet that while maintaining that special soulful groove never forgets the lyrical straight ahead sense of urgency with the finished product being a smoker!
For the uninitiated, Pratt’s professional resume includes work with Joe Lovano, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, and the Christian McBride Big Band. While having chops to spare, Pratt is a prolific composer having penned eight of the nine composition on this release. “Houdini” gets the party started with organ phenom Jared Gold and drummer Mark Ferber establishing the groove that has Pratt and trombonist Alan Ferber trading leads. Never content with playing it safe, Pratt’s solo takes a more free jazz turn without every tripping that ever present self indulgent sonic landmine lesser talents seem to find with minimal effort. A unique use of texture here is Jared Gold’s organ serves itself well by providing the bass line on all tunes. “Doppelganger” is certainly worthy of note. The term refers to the double of a living person. Trombonist Alan Ferber may well be Pratt’s musical doppelganger as the chemistry and cohesion displayed throughout the release borders on the uncanny. “Star Crossed Lovers” is the lone cover and presented with panache and style to create a most engaging number for the listener.
Dan Pratt has chops galore. Impressive lyrically driven solos with the ability to free lance where needed, Pratt is the real deal. The addition of Alan Ferber on trombone was a stroke of pure musical genius as two individual players seem to morph into one horn voice. Jared Gold and drummer Mark Ferber are as good as they come. The original compositions from Pratt are inventive and tunes of forward movement while maintaining a healthy respect for tradition. There are a handful of straight ahead acts that are working what some are calling the new sound of straight ahead jazz. To paraphrase Sonny Rollins, ” There is nothing new because of everything is a derivative of something else.” The pseudo-intellectual jazz enthusiast can argue theory and sub genre till they are blue in the face. I will be far too busy listening to Dan Pratt’s Toe The Line and this is certainly the future of modern jazz.
Tenor Saxophonist/Composer Dan Pratt succeeds in combining lyrical melodies with complex rhythm in an elegant fashion to foster a creative music that evolves and mixes together the soulful swing of yesteryear along with the steady swing of today’s most modern sounds.
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A new review for Jared Gold “Supersonic”…

Any critic or as I prefer to call myself a “jazz advocate” that does not have or claim definitive favorites is simply playing fast and loose with the musical truth. The 2009 release Supersonic marks Jared Gold stepping out as a leader and this funk infused gem features guitarist Ed Cherry and one of the most underrated drummers around in McClenty Hunter. This is some high octave stuff as this formidable trio lay down a groove that some working bands can search years for and not find.
Opening with a kicked-up riff on the 70’s TV show Welcome Back, Kotter we find the trio in an old school mood. What Gold does best is what I enjoy calling making old school new cool. With one foot in the past respecting the history of why he is here, Gold keeps another highly inventive foot in the future deciding where the music will take him. The soulful if not emotionally charged “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” couple with the smoker “Battle of Tokorazawa” make this a release of diversity and texture. Harmonic exploration is Gold’s wheelhouse and has never been as evident as it is with Supersonic. There is even a more gospel influenced take on “Home Again.” The retro vibe is a tough one to pull off well much less consistently but Gold and his trio do it with ease.
Organ trios and smaller ensemble seem to be on the uptick. Mike LeDonne, Pat Bianci, Tony Monaco are to name but a few of the accepted masters of their craft. Jared Gold is a musical visionary quickly establishing his own voice and can even now be tossed in the mix when the better players are mentioned. High points on this release may be too many to list. A diverse and slightly eclectic song list sets the recording apart from the mundane and boring. The sound quality on Supersonic is pristine. One would have to look long and hard and dig incredibly deep to find fault with one of the better debuts as a leader you will ever find.
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Critical Jazz reviews Jared Gold “All Wrapped Up”…

Change is never bad, just different. The forth Posi-Tone release for Gold finds two stellar horn players to replace the use of guitar on the previous three outings and with surprising results. Saxophonist Ralph Bown and trumpeter Jim Rotundi add freshness and depth to the eight composition where Gold compositions are featured on five selections and Jim Rotondi, Ralph Bowen, and Quincy Davis compositions round out this tight release and new musical chapter in Gold’s Posi-Tone discography.
The Gold tune “Mama Said” kicks off the fun with both horn players working through the swinging head and a deceptively subtle soul groove starts to build around the traded solos along with the finesse of drummer Davis. While each member contributes at least one composition, Ralph Bowen’s “Midnight Snack” is a syncopated adventure in odd meter punctuated with the rhythmic pop and vitality of what sounds like a working band having played together for a great many years. Bowen’s passion is certainly felt through the lyrical intensity of his playing and in turns spreads like wildfire throughout this formidable 4tet. “Dark Blue” is the sexy Rontondi composition which follows and intensity may be dialed back the passion is no less evident and is part of an intoxicating ebb and flow that envelopes All Wrapped Up. The Gold tune “Mama Said” has an intriguing all most retro vibe. A soulful groove you can use. “Just A Suggestion” closes this soulful romp with Bowen’s solo alone worth the price of the release. An odd metered tune but Gold is masterful is not building an entire release around the odd meter or harmonization of the melodies so as to become a member of the flavor of the month club. The addition of the two horn players is a stroke of genius as they in turn open Gold’s sound by highlighting some of the more soulful qualities and find Gold channeling his inner Larry Young or a young Jimmy Smith.
The creative juices flow deep on All Wrapped Up with Gold proving yet again he may be a relatively new shooter in the world of jazz organ but he is the real deal. All Wrapped Up is a virtually flawless release where Gold welcomes you to the land of rhythm and groove!