Saturday, October 09, 2010

Brooklyn Jazz Underground's Diverse Modern Jazz

I had been listening for several months to “Brooklyn Jazz Underground, Volume 4.” This is one of several compilations of performances by some of today’s modern jazz performers who call Brooklyn home. BJU is a collective of composers and musicians who operate in a similar manner to Chicago’s AACM, and other similar groups, enabling BJU to showcase their own music. In addition to producing recordings, they have produced festivals to showcase the BJU performers.

This sampler provides a sample of the musical range within the BJU. The collection opens up with “Cataldo One” by Danish bassist Anne Mette Iversen, a rousing hard bop number with some tenor sax from Jerome Sabbagh and piano from Danny Grissett. It is followed by Adam Kolker’s strutting “Flag Day,” from a new Sunnyside album, with a band that includes John Abercombrie and drummer Paul Motion. Kolker’s dry tenor sax is very appealing to these ears and complemented by Abercombrie’s chords and single note runs. Just these two numbers one provide the listener with a sense of the variety to be heard. I am not going to run down all eight selections, but simply mention three more. Sunny Jain Collective is led by drummer and composer, Sunny Jain, and the track “Avaaz,” from the album of the same name mixes the sounds of his native India including sitar guitar and the vocals of Samita Sinha, with Steve Welsh’s emphatic tenor saxophone creating a wonderful blend of sounds. Another drummer, Rob Garcia, contributed the fascinating “Little Trees,” opening with some free sounding piano from Dan Tepfer, before tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger engages in some call and response with Tepfer as drummer Garcia and bassist Chris Lightcap answer and provide a responsive foundation.“After,” by tenor saxophonist Dan Pratt, is composition that evokes some of Abdullah Ibrahim’s ballads. The group that includes trombonist Alan Ferber, organist Jared Gold and drummer Mark Ferber, and opens with the leader’s bluesy saxophone and there is strong interplay here between Pratt and trombonist Alan Ferber.

Brooklyn Jazz Underground, Volume 4” is a marvelous introduction to these independent and inspired musicians. BJU also has a series of podcasts where the musicians discuss their music at length from influences to their present objectives. This can be downloaxded from their website,, and this writer has them on his itunes. Also listening to this sampler, has led to the purchase of several albums by these performers. More information on the artists and the recordings can be found on the BJU website and many of these artists have recordings available on cdbaby.

The review copy (or downloads) was sent by the publicity firm for the Brooklyn Jazz Underground.

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