Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Curtis Nowosad Dialetctic

Winnipeg-raised drummer Curtis Nowosad (now based in New York) scores with a solid recording "Dialectics" (Cellar Door). Bandmates include tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene (who taught in University of Manitoba for awhile), Canadian pianist Will Bonness, and Canadian-based, New York expatriates, bassist Steve Kirby and trumpeter Derrick Gardner (both currently on the faulty at the University of Manitoba).

Featuring mostly Nowosad's original compositions, the album is described as neo-Hard Bop. According to Kevin Sun in the liner notes "“Neo-hard bop” retains the driving, synchronized horn line as its focal point as well as the tightly arranged format and extended soloing that we associate with stacks of 50s and 60s Blue Note records, but takes these elements even further: more hits, more vamps and interludes with bass and piano ostinato, more pyrotechnical blowing." Sun says many of these albums have little to offer other than a nostalgic sound. In contrast, Nowosad's group "has the sound of a working band that’s been steadily pursuing its own mode of collective communication."

Nowosad's arrangement provides a fresh rhythmic take on Wayne Shorter's "Speak No Evil," before Gardner explodes on trumpet, followed by Greene whose tenor solo quickly builds the intensity, and then the leader takes a crisp solo. "Empirically Speaking," based on the changes of a Duke Pearson composition, has pianist Bonness soloing strong which transitions into Greene who comes off like a Clifford Jordan or Booker Ervin. This is followed by a couple of choruses from Kirby and then one by Gardner. This is a wonderfully paced performance followed by the title track with a touch of funk in the groove.

The briskly paced “159 & St. Nick” alludes to "Sweet Georgia Brown," while "A Casual Test," is a  blues performance with strong playing by Gardner, Greene and Bonness before the horns trade fours with Nowosad. "Reconciliation," is a lovely ballad, while Nowosad provides an Afro-Cuban setting for a vibrant rendition of Thelonious Monk's “Bye-Ya,” Greene plays soprano sax on “Gleaning & Dreaming,” a fascinating waltz with shifting tempos. A fast rendition of "I Remember You," closes the CD  with strong, spirited, and fresh, playing from all.

"Dialectics" has wonderful original compositions and fresh arrangements of some well-known songs, strong ensemble interplay with plenty of musical invention by the quintet. Those wanting straight-ahead jazz in a hard bop vein will savor the music here.

I received my review copy from a publicist. Here Curtis with Jimmy Greene on sax performing
"Empirically Speaking."

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