Music

The Uptown Quintet: Live in New York

Uptown Quintet -- not quite hard bop, maybe contemporary delight bop from young lions who served their musical apprenticeships on Manhattan Island, and the one very together band they were.


The Uptown Quintet

Live in New York

Label: Callar Live
US Release Date: 2006-02-21
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

Another classy example of young jazz musicians who don't suppose they've a duty to always play the latest things. Better, surely, to be human beings who act on a love of music, and the ultimate values represented by not ceasing to do good things, rather than merely distilling the latest residues.

These guys seem to have worked together before they left New York, in other jobs Ira Gitler refers to in exemplary and even fascinating -- if uncomfortably printed -- liner notes. At least three of the musicians have two or more CDs under their own name, and if they attended conservatories -- and even studied jazz history with Professor Gitler -- they know why this music ought to be played. This has a lot to do with the music itself giving reasons why it should be heard.

There does seem to be some very good jazz in New York, proceeding respectfully from earlier music and paying no heed to the whims of journalists and other cliché-peddlers -- those who always demand something new and esteem young talented technicians while ignoring the frequent failure of such callow sprites to do all that much. While similar to several hyped undeserving juniors, the Uptown Quintet's members say what they have to say, which fortunately isn't nix, zilch, nothing, or minimal. The proprietor of one non-giant label keeps repeating that the recorded and marketed stuff and the good stuff are not and too often have never been exactly the same thing. Just because he said it first is no reason why I shouldn't come out with the same comment. I would also add that this CD owes its existence to the proprietor of a Canadian jazz venue -- to whom the listeners are indebted -- who started a label to issue Canadian recordings. His name is Cory Weeds and long may he flourish. When the alto saxophonist on this set was working with Weeds in a different capacity, said label boss heard the tape of a gig by the presently dispersed quintet and issued it. (The third item in his one-line CD is, as it happens, "jazz-fan".)

On his own "O'Cleary's Shuffle", Ian Hendrickson-Smith gets applause from the audience for an inspired and earthy alto solo, and Ryan Kisor really shines on his pretty-toned trumpet turn. Spike Wilner likes to phrase across the rhythm when soloing on piano, and after he has impressed it's Barak Mori's turn. There's a lovely lightness and fluency to "In the Kitchen", with Kisor's hot trumpet, and Charles Ruggiero is seriously exciting in a drum solo which is anything but tokenism.

The themes and lines are certainly out of the bop to hard-bop bag, but these guys know the sort of music they want to make with these materials. The piano mini-concerto of "A Foolish Lament" challenges the listener to relax, which Kisor does with his beautiful sound on a solo which can seem like a loving benediction to the music's heroes. The altoist gets intelligently serious on this slow medium performance.

The little-known pianist Ronell Bright's tune "Sweet Pumpkin" tries to be a nicer tune than "If I Were a Bell", and the rhythm allows the altoist to relax and do some lovely melodic business, which is duly emulated by Kisor and Wilner, who composed three of the tunes featured. Sonny Clark's output was drawn on for "Blue Minor", and Clark's own playing presumably appeals to the pianist here.

The two-horn ensemble work on "Calypso Cove" reminds me of the way the great Red Rodney used to play in perfect tune with a front line partner: sometimes what he played seemed to come out of an altoist's horn, and the saxophone from the bell of Rodney's trumpet. I almost regret being in a good mood, the mildly Caribbean number is so soothing. The extended piano solo is full of examples of something I notice among current young boppers, a sense that the soloist has just thought of a quote from another tune, and at once turned it into a fresh idea. The music sounds familiar, but not in a heard-it-before sense. Very affectionate music, but fresh and spirited.

Wilner's "Joyful Abandon" is the closer, and might represent a grandchild of Oscar Brown Jr., the now grown-up son of the little boy who kept asking about "Dat Dere". The music has many of the same satisfactions encountered a few years ago, when the Heath Brothers quartet toured playing very, very mellow 21st century bop.

8

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image