One of the strengths of Marc Free’s Posi-Tone imprimatur is that it is responsible for introducing us to many great and upcoming jazz artists. Drummer Jordan Young is a Detroit native who has studied with some of the best of the modern-day masters and is making a name for himself in New York. His sophomore release for Posi-Tone, Jazz Jukebox, is a bristling thirteen-track collection that lives up to its name. There’s a nice smattering of standards, pop ditties, and hard bop chestnuts, each clocking in between three and four minutes. While the brevity of the performances might be construed as a negative on first glance, it actually further ties in with the theme at hand. Think seven-inch 45s with a song on each side and you get the idea.
Two pieces with ties to the classic Blue Note era of the 60s kick off the date. “Son of Ice Bag” figured prominently on Lonnie Smith’s Think album, while Larry Young’s “Paris Eyes” is a gem from the organist’s Into Somethin’. Both receive a contemporary update with Brian Charette‘s iconic organ tone at the forefront. On the bop front, Wayne Shorter’s “E.S.P.” gets a spirited romp bolstered by Young’s dry cymbal beat. Guitarist Matt Chertkoff speaks volumes both in his solid comping and fleet-fingered solo work, his tone and attack sounding like a cross between Melvin Sparks and Pat Martino.
Charette keeps it lowdown and greasy on Jimmy Smith’s “Eight Counts for Rita.” By contrast, he calls up some vibrato and gets that classic ballad feel on “I Want a Little Girl.” Young likes to play with various grooves and manages to put a different spin on such disparate material as the theme from “Love Boat” and Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle.” The former starts almost like a second line groove before morphing into a funk beat, while the latter number moves as a high octane waltz.
Tenor saxophonist Nick Hempton can be heard on four of the tracks and doesn’t necessarily add or take anything away from the proceedings. What makes the trio cuts sparkle is the obvious connections these players have developed on the job. Jordan himself doesn’t go out of his way to deliver flashy solos, but instead serves the music with his tasteful interjections. As just one example of many, listen to his tasty fills on the Charette’s toe-tapping “Giant Deconstruction.” Utilizing a vintage Gretsch kit, Young sounds like he’s done his homework. Given even wider parameters, I would love to hear what other things he’s got up his sleeves.
C. Andrew Hovan – All About Jazz
The predominance of the jukebox in social situations is essentially a thing of the past. But how much has really changed? Those once-ubiquitous machines that brought musical happiness to the good people in corner bars and diners throughout the land may have vanished, but the concept they put forward has not. It’s simply been modernized, with shuffling playlists, random streaming, curated listening parties, and smartly programmed albums like this now carrying the jukebox flame and furthering the mix-it-up musical formula.
Jazz Jukebox is exactly what you’d expect, both based on the title and what drummer Jordan Young cooked up on his first two albums—Jordan Young Group (Self Produced, 2010) and Cymbal Melodies (Posi-Tone, 2012). It’s a diverse program built on sharp and concise arrangements of jazz and pop nuggets. Everything from Thelonious Monk‘s “Rhythm-A-Ning” to Jim Croce’s “Time In A Bottle” and Hugh Masekela‘s “Son Of Ice Bag” to Charles Ira Fox’s campy “Love Boat” makes it into the mix, and nothing overstays its welcome. The longest tracks don’t even crack the four-and-a-half minute mark.
Young keeps things moving here, largely focusing on upbeat material pulled from different corners of the music world. He nods to Larry Young with a performance of the organist’s jaunty “Paris Eyes,” gets his sloshy hi-hat going for a spell on The Beatles’ “I’m Only Sleeping,” prods organist Brian Charette and guitarist Matt Chertkoff during their solos on Wayne Shorter‘s “ESP,” and trades with glee on “Tadd’s Delight.” If that’s not enough variety, there’s also Charette’s “Giant Deconstruction,” an odd-metered, ascending twist on John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”; Jimmy Smith’s soulful and bluesy “Eight Counts For Rita,” one of four numbers to bring tenor saxophonist Nick Hempton into play; and Chertkoff’s arrangement of “Will You Still Be Mine,” a caffeinated brush feature for the leader.
In choosing to work with Charette and Chertkoff, Young capitalizes on musical relationships that have been fostered over a long stretch of time—basically week in, week out at Tribeca’s Authentic Bar B Flat and other New York haunts. Due to those bandstand-forged connections, this crew is incredibly comfortable in its own skin. That’s something that tends to cut both ways. On the positive side, it makes for a strong team mindset in the music. All the stops, turns, and hits are incredibly tight. The group chemistry also fuels solid groove expressions—swinging, samba-esque, and soulful at different turns—which carry the music forward. The downside with the musical amity between these men is that it sometimes leaves the music wanting for more heat and/or friction. The band occasionally feels too comfortable. But is that really a problem? For most listeners, probably not. Those who dig the idea of sundry selections served up by a bright and polished trio fronted by an articulate drummer will be happy as can be when spinning Jordan Young’s Jazz Jukebox.
Dan Bilawsky – All About Jazz