Monday, August 27, 2007

Nick Sweet Quartet

I've been having a great time playing with Nick Sweet's band this summer. He's a great trombonist, musician, and composer, and a very chill guy. He's in Berklee right now, so we only get him in Portland on breaks... I'll take what I can get. Here's a cool YouTube post of us playing one his tunes at the Red and Black Cafe, a location that will soon be evacuated... Check it out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Eddie Daniels Homecoming

I had never heard Eddie Daniels play before I got this double disc, Homecoming: Live at the Iridium in the mail. The record has a blend of standards and originals played by Daniels on clarinet and tenor, Joe Locke on vibes, Tom Rainer on piano, Dave Finck on bass, and Joe LaBarbera on drums. In terms of traditional jazz instrumentation and performance, this has been some of the most enjoyable music I've heard in while. Daniels interprets the melodies very honestly and tastefully, with a gorgeous tone and balanced, lyrical phrasing. In improvising he is both light on his feet and very grounded in approach, playing with such forthrightness and ingenoutiy that the musical language comes out crisp and his expression is clear.
The whole band plays with great intelligence and feel, but the next voice to really catch my ear is the vibes of Joe Locke. I really dig the way his improvisations expand rhythmically and harmonically while usually retaining a central point of focus in whatever he's doing. I feel like he really takes you for a ride. Eddie has an amazing sound on the clarinet, which is what he's known for, but he also has a cool thing going with his tenor playing. I would place it as closest to late Joe Henderson, with the nicely spread tone and the feeling that any corner could be a big waterfallish arpeggiated gliss. It's just good music, so check it out if want to!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Tim Miller

Tim Miller Trio
My bassist buddy Damian Erskine recently hipped me to the guitarist Tim Miller, a 30 yr old jazz fusion guitarist that is teaching at Berklee. I was unaware of him when I was in Boston, so he might be a recent addition to the faculty but I'm glad I found him now. After checking out as much youtube as I could find with him featured (most notably with the Janek Gwizdala group feat. Randy Brecker, Elliot Mason(the Mason Bros are Crazy!), Tim Miller and Gary Husband). At his best, Miller builds his solos with an architectural precision, balancing melodic groundedness with gradually expanding intervallic structures to create very effective and fresh improvisations. To see what I mean, check this out:

His legato phrasing is similar to that of Allan Holdsworth, but his trio with Joshua Davis on acoustic bass and Take Toriyama on drums leans more towards jazz than Fusion with a capitol 'F'. The record is nice blend of many different feelings tied together by his strong style of composition. None of the tracks are much over 4 minutes and most offer a nice progression from his melodies to his improvisational language and back, with tasteful features of his rhythm section somewhere in between. I think my favourite tune is the 9th track entitled 'TR'. The melody and his voicings are absolutely beautiful in the way they twist and turn into one another, always balanced and always fresh. He takes a solo that is short but still manages to 'get there' before he hands it off to Davis for an equally truncated solo before they take it out.
My only qualm at all with Tim's playing is that sometimes he jumps a little quickly into the fractally world of his angular motivic developments, leaving me feeling a little disconnected. But considering how much I've listened to his record, it must not bother me too much.