Friday, August 24, 2012

Michael Feinberg: The Elvin Jones Project

I received a delightful recording for review: The Elvin Jones Project.  I am a big fan of Elvin Jones, so I was happy to see this tribute album.  I will be lazy and give you what the publicity release has:

Twenty five year old bassist/bandleader Michael Feinberg was particularly inspired by the core of Coltrane’s rhythm section: drummer Elvin Jones.  While he perused his favorite drummer’s catalog, Feinberg found himself drawn to the interplay the legendary percussionist had with a multitude of bassists. Feinberg soon discovered that his favorite bassists had had a significant musical relationship with Jones. The study of these relationships became the root of Feinberg’s project and subsequent recording: The Elvin Jones Project.

Feinberg’s third recording as a leader, The Elvin Jones Project, was inspired by the relationships that Jones established with bassists Jimmy Garrison, Gene Perla, George Mraz, Richard Davis and Dave Holland. Feinberg decided to create an ensemble that would tackle compositions reflecting the link between these rhythmic pairings without emulation. As Feinberg was set to channel the vibe of these various bass players, he enlisted the great drummer Billy Hart to substitute for the deceased Jones.

Two years younger than Jones, Hart had a close, brotherly relationship with the drummer. The two had been good friends and Jones’s techniques had rubbed off onto the younger player. Feinberg chose Hart for this project because he felt that Hart played with a similar style as Jones, with an emphasis on the 1 while most drummers focused on the 4. Hart also possessed a certain “swagger” that Feinberg liked: “He can bang the shit out of a drum.” Upon their first meeting, Hart remarked to Feinberg: “Elvin would have liked playing with you!”

The other members of Feinberg’s ensemble include two of the most inspiring musicians of the past few decades and a young lion. Saxophonist George Garzone - who co-produced the record and who had once played with Elvin - and trumpeter Tim Hagans are featured as a well-seasoned frontline, while the up and coming Leo Genovese – a member of Esperanza Spalding’s ensemble - holds down the keys.
All of the musicians on this disc play with sparkle and depth.  Some of the earlier pieces have a magical, slightly fussionesque sound.  The latter cuts are equally impressionistic, but more solidly hard bop in mood.  I am especially impressed by Hagans' trumpet and Genovese's piano.  

I am playing two cuts from the album: 'Miles Mode' and 'Three Card Molly'.  I am also playing the latter tune from an Elvin Jones recording.  You should give this recording a good listen and then buy it.  Need I say that contemporary jazz men deserve our support. 

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