New York based Jared Gold brings us a classic set on his forth Posi-Tone release. Ranging from straight forward hammond B-3 fair to more daring arrangements and feel, showing us just what he is capable of with the support of acclaimed Ralph Bowen on tenor saxophone, Jim Rotondi on trumpet and Quincy Davis on drums.
All Wrapped Up as a whole draws from different corners of organ lead jazz and the punchyMy Sentiments Exactly opens the progressive set with gusto. The interaction between the band comes out flying through this ever twisting and turning bebop style piece. Get Out Of My Sandbox steps up with a super cool swing and biting keys from Gold gives the track a lingering edge.
Slowing the pace with Piece Of Me, an intoxicating combo of Sax and Trumpet interplay create a lilting harmonic that draws the listener in to a dreamy sounds-cape underpinned by snappy B3 organ, stitched together by the technically easy feel that Davis brings on drums. Dark Blue follows on as a mid paced ballad. A late night dreamy vibe brought to life by Rotondi’s timing and perfect phrasing.
Mama Said is classic, funky and fun. A foot-tapping groover guaranteed to bring a smile before Saudades goes introspective and wistful, showcasing a well thought out arrangement and bringing a moment for Davis to show off his percussive flair. Just A Suggestion wraps up the set in style with Bowen letting go of the reins and Gold’s slinky playing acting as the perfect foundation.
The band really comes together here and the whole album exudes class from ever pour. A great set mixing classic combo arrangements with one foot in the future. A really sweet summer record.
Hammond B3 organ master Jared Gold wastes no time building a head of steam, launching All Wrapped Up with “My Sentiments Exactly,” one of the more driving tracks on his latest CD. Like the other tunes on this entertaining disc, it gives each player plenty of blowing room. It’s a robust reminder of a time when jazz was sociable, and Gold’s light touch makes it cohere.
Listening to All Wrapped Up will awaken memories of walking into a neighborhood bar and coming across a cooking band: In this case, Gold plus tenor saxophonist Ralph Bowen, trumpeter/flugelhornist Jim Rotondi and drummer Quincy Davis. This is comfortable music no matter how fierce the improvisation or how passionate the playing. Check out how Gold sneaks around Rotondi’s solo in Davis’ “Piece of Mine,” how he gooses the jaunty “Just a Suggestion” to set up Bowen’s burly, jagged solo. The band is precise but loose playing this riff- and groove-heavy jazz.
Some titles pack double-entendres, hinting at Gold’s sensibility. The tracks segue easily, encompassing the sultry “Saudades,” the perky “Suggestion,” Rotondi’s slinky “Dark Blue” and “Get Out of My Sandbox,” a bop strut featuring Bowen and Rotondi at their joint best.
Organist Jared Gold Wraps up a Diverse, Intense Album
Jared Gold’s new B3 organ jazz album All Wrapped Up may not be the last thing you would expect, but it’s different. Before we get into this, let’s establish the fact that the world would be a much less enjoyable place without the B3 grooves of Lonnie Smith, Jimmy McGriff, the late Jimmy Smith and of course James Brown, who in case you didn’t know, first got an appetite for funk when playing this kind of stuff. Gold’s previous album Out of Line continued that great tradition: this is a lot more stylistically diverse. Once in awhile Gold will slip in a piano voicing; he’s also the bad cop here, bringing on the night when there’s too much sunshine. In addition to a couple of the usual grooves, the band also does a couple of swing tunes, slinks into noir mode and explores the fringes of Sao Paolo and New Orleans. Gold has a great cast behind him: Ralph Bowen on saxes, Jim Rotondi on trumpet and Quincy Davis on drums. The compositions are all originals: everyone in the band contributes.
The first cut, My Sentiments exactly works a pretty traditional shuffle groove and a triumphant horn hook, Bowen and Rotondi spinning off bright, bluesy eighth-note runs. A vivid swing tune, Get Out of My Sandbox has Bowen artfully playing off a descending progression as Davis adds rumble and crash, Rotondi getting to the point much more quickly with some scurrying downward chromatics. Gold messes with the tempo: if Keith Emerson wasn’t so hell-bent on showing off, he might have sounded something like this. Piece of Mind, by Davis, introduces a casually catchy, upbeat swing tune afloat on Bowen’s melismas, Davis varying his tread from nimble to stomping, with an intense, animated group conversation out of a pianistic Gold solo.
Midnight Snack, by Bowen shoots for nocturnal and noirish quickly – a nonchalantly crescendoing sax solo goes gritty, Rotondi’s insistent glissandos heighten the tension and Gold pushes him as he takes it up. And then the organ morphs it into a moody jazz waltz. Dark Blue, by Rotondi, brings it further down into the underworld, a slow slinky blues ballad with Taxi Driver ambience. Gold’s biting staccato righthand adds neon glimmer in the shadows; the whole band takes it up to a wailing, somewhat tongue-in-cheek crescendo.
Mama Said starts out as a jaunty New Orleans strut and ends up as a crime movie theme, Davis and Gold again working in tandem to boost the suspense, the organ eventually taking it down and then matter-of-factly back up in a vintage Quincy Jones vein. They follow with Suadades, a deceptively creepy, languid number, again with matter-of-factly impactful, ambling mysterioso ambience from the organ and drums, Bowen bringing a rare gentle balminess. They close the album going back to the funk, if not completely all the way, with Just a Suggestion, a lauching pad for Bowen’s on-and-off-kilter, weaving lines and Gold’s Memphis allusions. There’s an awful lot going on here: while it takes a lot of time to get to know this, stick with it, it’s all good. It’s out now on Posi-Tone; Gold is at the Fat Cat on May 20 at 10:30 with a quintet.
Jared Gold’s fourth album as leader, All Wrapped Up, finds fresh faces joining the organist as he releases his first recording without a guitarist. This is also Gold’s first all-originals album—although he shares the writing credits with his band mates, who each contribute a tune. The new lineup and new tunes ensure that this album, and Gold’s playing, sounds bright and upbeat from the off.
All Wrapped Up is Gold’s follow-up to 2010’s relaxed, almost laidback Out Of Line (Posi-Tone). It’s a much more muscular collection, with its roots in hard bop and its front line of trumpeter Jim Rotondi and tenorist Ralph Bowen both favoring an attacking, energetic, style of playing that Gold and drummer Quincy Davis are happy to match. Indeed, Gold seems less inhibited than on his previous outings, the result perhaps of his increasing confidence as a player as well as the influence of his new partners.
The combination of Rotondi and Bowen gives the music a real spark and intensity. Bowen delivers a nicely languid solo on Gold’s “Saudades,” but for most of the time the horn duo is up for something a bit more lively. The quartet lets loose from track one, “My Sentiments Exactly” moving along with a terrific energy as all four players drive ahead. “Get Out Of My Sandbox” is a little more relaxed, but Rotondi and Bowen have such a rich sound that they seem like an entire horn section.
Davis’ “Piece of Mine” is a mid-tempo swinger marked by one of Rotondi’s best solos, while Bowen’s “Midnight Snack” is underpinned by Gold’s slinky groove. But overall it’s Gold whose compositions have the edge, and make best use of his Hammond sound.
Jared Gold – All Wrapped Up (Posi-Tone, 2011)
Los Angeles-based Posi-Tone Records sends me red-meat jazz discs faster than I can keep up with them. Here’s what I think of some of the label’s most recent releases from musicians who have been on its roster for a while now:
All Tied Up (Posi-Tone)
The latest CD from organist Jared Gold could equally have been billed as an outing by the Posi-Tone All-Stars. The fourth disc by Gold on Posi-Tone in as many years, All Tied Up features Gold with label-mates saxophonist Ralph Bowen and trumpeter Jim Rotondi. Completing the quartet is drummer Quincy Davis, on faculty these days at the University of Winnipeg’s jazz program. He has a precise, powerful hookup with Gold and contributes just the right crackling swing.
The disc is all about swinging fiercely and blowing hard, with an occasional break for a bit of funkiness. Gold contributes five of eight tracks and there’s one apiece from each of the other musicians. Gold’s My Sentiments Exactly and Get Out of My Sandbox and may not be so striking when it comes to their titles, but they’re rousing themes that give the CD plenty of ignition as Gold, Bowen, Rotondi and Davis tear into them. Gold’s a potent player coming out of Larry Young’s arresting modal style, and he draws on the organ’s sonic possibilities to spur the music on. Bowen, one of Saskatchewan’s biggest gifts to jazz, is an absolute terror thanks to his passionate sounds when it comes to exploring chords with long lines. Rotondi steps up and sounds sassy on this disc, a bit Hubbard-like at times, only more mortal.
The disc is pretty much balladless if we’re talking about songs that express tenderness or romance. Instead, the slow songs Dark Blue (by Rotondi) and Gold’s own Saudades are more in keeping with the disc’s muscular, bopping vibe. Mama Said, and the closer, Just A Suggestion, funky, gospel-tinged.
Power Play (Posi-Tone)
On his third Posi-Tone disc in as many years, saxophonist Bowen works his way deeper into the post-bop bag that he’s been exploring for almost three decades. In the mid-1980s, soon after he graduated from Rutgers University, the Guelph native was tapped for the post-Wynton, Young Lions outfit Out of the Blue, which also included Renee Rosnes and Kenny Garrett in one of its incarnations. A stylistic straight line connects the music on those OTB records and the hearty, hard-swinging fare on Bowen’s aptly named Power Play CD.
Bowen’s made his reputation as a virtuosic, eloquent tenor player, and on tracks such as the swaggering KD’s Blues, the brisk harmonic slalom Two-Line Pass, the urgent modal exhortationThe Good Sheppard, and the lyrical but exciting Walleye Jigging, his flowing lines and rhythmic drive consistently delight. Bowen’s one of many saxophonists of his generation who flow out of the John Coltrane-Michael Brecker branch of tenor saxophone, but he’s certainly among my absolute favourites in this subset of hornmen.
That said, Bowen branches out on this disc, demonstrating how he can express himself on other horns. On one track, he plays alto saxophone (the knotty, intense, BreckerishDrummheller Valley, which finds him in a few spots recalling his former OTB bandmate Garrett). On two change-of-pace tracks, Bowen plays soprano saxophone. The slow, waltzing Jessicaand the disc’s closer, A Solar Romance are fine, although the latter tune’s placement at the end of the disc gives Power Play a less powerful finish.
Alternately, the disc might have ended with its only standard, a gorgeous, classic My One And Only Love, to send listeners out with a reiteration of Bowen on his primary horn. It sounds like it could have been a classy set-ender to me, akin to a ballad encore.
Bowen’s rhythm section consists of the Philadephia pianist (and Posi-Tone recording artist) Orrin Evans, who is unfailingly interesting as he draws upon pianists from Wynton Kelly to McCoy Tyner, bassist Kenny Davis (an OTB alumnus like Bowen) and drummer Donald Edwards, a snappy, convincing player.
Captain Black Big Band (Posi-Tone)
Captain Black Big Band
Here’s a video that says what the Captain Black Big Band, directed by pianist Orrin Evans, is all about:
The group’s eponymous CD features seven tracks culled from three nights of gigging in Philadelphia and New York. Regardless of when and where the music was recorded, the excitement on the bandstands and in the rooms is clear. While I sometimes wish the disc’s recording quality was better, it still allows the whoops and exhortations of the band members to be heard during the driving performances.
The first few tracks on the CD lean toward minor modal thrashing. Case in point is the opener, Art of War by drummer Ralph Peterson.
On the disc, Art of War is a punchy, concise opener, featuring Rob Landham’s tart alto saxophone. It’s followed by two tracks that extend the minor modal vibe — Here’s the Captain, a lush Latin tune by Gianluca Renzi that features saxophonist Victor North, and bass clarinetist Todd Marcus’ Inheritance, which pulls from John Coltrane’s India, and which allows Marcus and the Handel-quoting trumpeter Walter White to stretch out.
Big Jimmy, the first of four Evans tunes, is a bright, classic swinger. Trumpeter White seizes the tune by the horns during his solo, and Ralph Bowen contributes a sprinting soprano saxophone turn. Captain Black offers some swaggering swinging, and Bowen is back, tearing through the changes.
Easy Now, the disc’s longest, slowest track, feels a bit baggy to me at first as it moves through its rumbling overture — better recording quality would likely have helped — but the piercing trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt lifts the music up during his feature.
The disc closes with its most intense piece, Jena 6, which is named after six black youths in Louisiana whose arrests on an assault charge gave rise to massive civil rights demonstrations in 2007 (trumpeter Christian Scott’s composition Jenacide is similarly inspired). After the tune’s initial, dirge-like passage, alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw is utterly searing as the tune moves from roiling, rubato to fast, frenetic swinging to a Coltrane-style ovation. Shaw finishes the tune by himself, adding some screech to his sound during the powerful cadenza.
The End of Fear (Posi-Tone)
The End of Fear is the stylistic outlier of this batch, eschewing Posi-Tone’s primarily post-bopping sensibility for music with more jagged edges and not-so-thinly-veiled social commentary.
The clearest link to Posi-Tone is pianist Orrin Evans, who joins bassist Eric Revis and drummer Nasheet Waits to form Tarbaby. Guesting on selected tracks are trumpeter Nicholas Payton, tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen and alto saxophonist Oliver Lake.
The disc’s four shortest tunes function as interludes but they’re also bursts of energy and attitude that tell you a lot about where Tarbaby’s coming from. The first of them is the opener by Revis, E-Math, which combines dark fractured funk lines with layers of mysterious muttering — snippets such as “Does it swing?” “Swing is old,” “The only way you can could swing is from a tree — put a noose around your neck,” and “Where’s the melody?” compete with someone muttering mathematical gibberish. Heads is a condensed bit of meta-music and protest, opening with the words, “Jazz. The word to me means freedom of expression. That’s what I think of it. That’s all.” Someone yells “Go!” and after a minute and half of tumultous free playing, the track ends with Malcolm X saying — apropos of the disc’s title — “No, I don’t worry. I have no fear whatsoever of anybody or anything.” Tails is an roiling, miniature companion to Heads. The CD’s other sub-two-minute track is a run through the Bad Brains’ Sailin’ On, true to its hardcore punk spirit.
Also defiant, and in a more programmatic way, is Evans’ Jena 6. Performed by Tarbaby’s core trio, it’s more mournful and less fierce than the version heard on Evans’ big-band recording.
While they may not be so explicit in their politics, covers of pieces by Sam Rivers (Unity) and Andrew Hill (Tough Love), as well as Oliver Lake’s urgent, start-and-stop swinger November ’80 are similarly spirited. In a similar vein, Revis’ Brews is, in fact, a blues and a waltzing, fractured one at that.
In the middle of the CD, there’s a moment of rest when the trio, joined by Allen, offer a melancholy, beautiful reading of Fats Waller’s Lonesome Me, stressing its melody over any flourishes of improvisation.
Hesitation by Waits, which features Payton, begins as a rumbling ballad but grows to be florid and turbulent. Paul Motian’s Abacus provides a wispy, ethereal conclusion for a CD that for much of its duration was spiky, tense and audacious — to the point that it did not sound quite like a Posi-Tone CD.