23 November 2010

Almost Back

Quick life announcement: I am heading back to school next year to pursue an MBA, so for the past month or so I've been swamped in B-school applications. I'm almost through, though, and will be back to blogging when the applications are done. In the meantime, check out this version of Nick Drake's Three Hours recorded by the Jason Parker Quartet on their recent tour. Jason recently reposted it to his blog, and it is a wonderful rendition, featuring a beautiful bass solo by Evan Flory-Barnes and some great trumpet work from Jason (dig the half-valve effect starting at 3:54, when Jason's horn starts to sound like an overdriven guitar amp).

Jason is currently working on a rearrangement of Drake's debut album, Five Leaves Left, for his band, and he is hoping to finance the project using a Kickstarter campaign. You can read more about the project at Jason's blog, or you can pledge your financial support for the project here. Jason is not afraid to try any method of financing his various musical projects, and he has seen some great successes with his fan-supported efforts. Help him keep up the good work and support his collaborators as well. You'll get to enjoy the music and the smug feeling of superiority when you tell all your friends about the independent artists who benefit from your largess. It's a win-win!

10 November 2010

A Random Thought

Sometimes when I hear a Lee Morgan solo, I wonder if I will ever be fortunate enough to create something so perfect. It's a lofty aspiration.

07 November 2010

Review: Introducing Triveni

Avishai Cohen
Introducing Triveni

It seems like every other album I've been listening to lately has been either a sax-bass-drums or piano-bass-drums trio. Finally I get some variety, in the form of a trumpet-bass-drum trio, no less. All kidding aside, I cannot find many examples of the trumpet-led pianoless trio (though Miles Davis' second quintet comes close, since Herbie Hancock sometimes sat out during Miles' solos). But the new album from Israeli-born Smalls-bred trumpeter Avishai Cohen is a refreshing statement of neobop which avoids cliche and stays interesting on multiple listens.

It seems the model for his band is not another trumpet player's group, but the early-1960s ensembles of Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane (Cohen covers Trane's Wise One and many of the scaler lines in his solos remind me of Sonny Rollins). The title of the album is a Sanskrit word meaning the confluence of the three holy rivers in the hindu tradition, the physical rivers Ganges and Yamuna, and the mythic Saraswati River. In Cohen's ethos, the Triveni are hard bop, funk, and the avant-garde, the three dominant strains of postwar American jazz.

Cohen's trio, which includes bassist Omer Avital and drummer Nasheet Waits, is well versed in the three styles alluded to in the album's title, and in most cases weave them together relatively seamlessly. On their version of Don Cherry's Art Deco, the group opens with a freeish take on Cherry's melody before moving into a more straightahead feel. Though playing a tune written two decades ago and referencing subgenres who saw their heydays years before that, the three sound totally of the moment. In doing so, they manage to avoid becoming a nostalgia act, which you should know by now is my biggest pet peeve.

   Avishai Cohen - Art Deco

Cohen's got chops. He can make the kind of dexterous runs across partials reminiscent of Freddie Hubbard's 1960s output. Though his lines seem very familiar at times (I swear I've heard Sonny Rollins play them before), he manages to sound fresh despite the familiarity. This is a very enjoyable album. I might not remember it well in two or three years, but in the month or so I've had this album in my iPod, I've enjoyed it more with every listen.

Track Listing: One Man's Idea; Ferrara Napoly; Art Deco; Mood Indigo; Wise One; Amenu; You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To; October 25th
Personnel: Avishai Cohen, trumpet; Omer Avital, bass; Nasheet Waits, drums