Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Brooklyn Jazz Underground Ensemble's Fond Portrait Of Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Jazz Underground is a cooperative association of jazz artists who aim to build a greater awareness of original music emerging from Brooklyn, NY. Five of the members have collaborated on a new recording A Portrait of Brooklyn on the association’s sister company, Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records. The members forming the Brooklyn Jazz Underground Ensemble are David Smith (trumpet), Adam Kolker (tenor sax, alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute), Dan Pratt (tenor sax, clarinet, flute), Anne Mette Iversen (bass) and Rob Garcia (drums). In addition to being excellent musicians, instrumentalists and band leaders, each contributed two compositions to this recording. While the compositions are inspired by Brooklyn, this recording does not attempt to define the Borough.

Listening to the performances here, one is impressed by not simply the compositions and playing, but also the ensemble work. One might suggest several influences of the overall sound including the classic Ornette Coleman Quartet, and such post-Ornette influenced groups as Old Dreams and New Dreams. Ornette's influence perhaps is most evident on Kolker’s JV, a selection that evokes Ornette’s classic groups (and Kolker’s alto saxophone here echoes Coleman’s blues-infused tone). Smith’s trumpet provides a nice contrast while Pratt plays in a bit more gutbucket fashion. If not sounding like a previously unrecorded Coleman composition, Smith’s Starr St. is a lively original in the post-Ornette vein. Kolker is strong on alto here (not sounding like Coleman) and also adds bass clarinet to the ensemble passages. Garcia’s playing is especially strong here, including during Smith’s solo.

Garcia’s “King” is a strong free-bop performance with a solo from Pratt along with nice supporting riffs by the other horns. Iversen provides a firm anchor as Garcia propels the performance along. Pratt’s Buttermilk Channel is built upon an intriguing motif stated by Kolker on bass clarinet. Garcia’s other original is the lovely, wistful 1898 (the title referrs to the year the City of Brooklyn became part of the City of New York), with thoughtful and lovely playing by Smith as Pratt provides embellishments under the solos.

Iversen’s Osgood in Brooklyn has imaginative interplay between the horns while Garcia’s The Hill is a toe-tapping performance with excellent playing by him as well as from Kolker on tenor. Pratt’s The Cyclone (named after the famed Coney island roller coaster) closes this recording in a hard bop vein, conjuring up some of Woody Shaw’s compositions and recordings. A Portrait of Brooklyn is an excellent collection of first-rate original compositions and terrific playing.

For more information visit http://www.bjurecords.com/artistsBJU.html. I received my review copy from a publicist.

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