Origin Arts: The Tsunami from Seattle
In general, the median quality of Jazz Music is several orders of magnitude greater than that of Popular Music. To this writer, this is best evidenced by the flood of music spilling out of my mailbox on a daily basis. Amazingly, the vast majority of music that I listen to is of a very high quality. That offers the writer the distinct challenge of providing the warranted attention to an ever-increasing number of finely crafted Jazz CDs. Northwest based Origin Arts sports two labels: Original Records and OA2. The former label was started by Seattle drummers John Bishop and Matt Jorgensen to showcase Northwest American talent. OA2 was started to include other than regional musicians. The mixture is a potent brew, as you will see...or better yet, hear.
Phil Kelly and the New Prevailing Winds
(Origin 22017, 2004)
Convergence Zone is a straight-ahead big band offering (unlike the later described A Mind for Scenery. Composer/Band Leader Phil Kelly has been a mainstay in film and television recording over the past 40 years. Bright brass and humming reeds characterize his writing and arranging skills. This recording blasts with "Damp Brown Places," (a take off on "Camptown Races") struts with "Cuzn Bubba Luvz Ewe," and laughs and plays with "Sweet Georgia Upside Down." This is some of the hippest big band writing that we could hope for. "Sweet Georgia Upside Down" could have died on the vine as a bad idea but insead wings as the focal point of this superb disc.
Point in Time
(Origin 82418, 2004)
Point in Time follows two previous well-received recordings by the Seattle-based drummer Steve Corn. The drummer is back with his now trademark double saxophone front of Mark Taylor and Rob Davis, each inhabiting a stereo channel. A savvy bandleader, Korn also features noted pianist Marc Seales and bassist Paul Gabrielson. Korn composed the lion's share of the disc, populating it with airy, new age themes that boast a lot of space. The music addresses the full repertoire of modern, post-bop jazz playing, paying certain attention to soul music, most notably in "Theme from the Sit-Com of the Same Name" and the ethereal ballad delta of "Little Bird." Both saxophonists are soprano experts well versed in the language of the instrument as well as its repertoire. As for the drummer, he is serviceable with an impressive arsenal of techniques. As a bandleader and composer, Korn has much to be proud of. A more pleasant listing experience might scarcely be hoped for.
Matt Jorgensen + 451
(Origin 82419, 2004)
Another drummer hanging out in the great Northwest is Matt Jorgensen. He and his band, 451, have previously released several recordings. Jorgensen borrows Mark Taylor from Steve Korn and features Korn's other saxophonist, Bob Davis on Several cuts. Jorgensen employs a double saxophone front for the opening of this disc, "Slinky," giving the band a big muscular sound that is propelled by Ryan Burn's Fender Rhodes. The band hits a bull's eye with their cover of Coldplay's "God Put A Smile on Your Face," again featuring Burn's Miles Davis-distorted electric piano and some very nifty saxophone playing by Mr. Taylor. Jorgensen's drumming on the piece is insistent and incendiary. The music on this recording, while some being abstract, is very appealing and accessible. "Che" has a distinct "A Love Supreme" vibe with coherent saxophone soloing over the ebb of the rhythm section. All pieces are provocative and intelligent.
Michael Vlatkovich Tritet
(Origin 82420, 2004)
Now here is something different, a trombone trio. Michael Vlatkovich steps into the daring shoes of Roswell Rudd and produces the music Rudd would have produced had he been a member of Jimmy Giuffre's famous '60s Free Jazz Trio Trio. Joining Michael Vlatkovich are bassist Jonas Tauber and drummer Ken Ollis, both veterans, for a playful romp through the sanctified fields of the jazz trio. The disc opens with the tortuously entitled, "Our Costumes Tell Us Who We are And What We Think." This piece has a very big sound resulting from Vlatkovich's powerful open-bell playing. Ken Ollis plays his absolute best Elvin Jones. And that is merely the beginning. Check out the deft bass work on "All Flat DeeGee GeeGee Too." The orderliness of the recording begins unraveling with "The Length of the Tail Doesn't Really Matter But It Does Have to Be Bushy" (how could it not). This is music that must be sent to the principal's office for bad behavior and how splendidly wonderful that bad behavior is. If the freedom principle is your cup of tea, pick up Queen Dynamo, it is guaranteed to satisfy.
Marc Seales Band
A Time, A Place, A Journey...
(Origin 82421, 2004)