Friday, August 30, 2013

Flutes, Flutes, and More Flutes!

This one's pretty simple -- if you like flutes in jazz you'll love this recording. If not, you have two choices, pass or listen and change your mind.

Product DetailsAli Ryerson's Jazz Flute Big Band Gamer Changer" (Capri Records 2013) is Ryerson's reminder to the jazz community that the flute should be a mainstream instrument. Even given its history in jazz with players like Herbie Mann, Hubert Laws, Sam Most, Frank Wess an others, the flute is still mostly a second instrument for sax players and a lesser light in jazz combos and writings. Ryerson note how many jazz flautists have stories of rejection in the world of jazz education, something expereinced first hand by my daughter in high school, and when flutes are featured, many see the music as too light, too close to the world of smooth jazz.

What a shame. Jazz flute is a beautiful sounding instrument, whether it be the standard flute, alto or bass or contra bass flute, all featured herein, and Ryerson intends to demonstrate their beauty by assembling not one, two, or three flutes for her band, but 19 flutes in a wonderful chorus, backed by a rhythm section of piano, bass, and drums.

Let's meet the flautists:  Ryerson, Holly Hoffman, Hubert Laws, Nestor Torres, Marc Adler, Jamie Baum, Andrea Brachfield, Fernando Brandao, Bob Chadwick, Kris Keith, Billy Kerr, Paul Lieberman, Keith Underwood, Richard Ford, Zachary Kellogg, Rachel Rogers, Jonathan Royce, Donna Sevcovic, and Stan Slotter.  Hoffman, Laws, and Torres are highlighted as soloists.

And the rhythm section:  Mark Levine on piano, Rufus Reid on bass, and Akira Tana on drums and percussion.

This is a labor of love that took a decade to put together for Ryerson, and a remarkable one at that. When played as a chorus, the various flutes -- alto, tenor, bass -- sound much like the sax section of a big band, with nice harmonies, chordal arrangements, and selected soloists. When a single flute steps out for a solo, the combinations are lovely to hear. The rhythm section plays a key role in keeping the beat, providing the solid flooring underneath, and creating a few powerful solos themselves.

The jazz ensemble takes on a set of standards and brings a new shine to them, soft and endearing as flutes are, but also toe-tapping and dynamic as the best of jazz ensembles are. Songs include "Daahoud", "Stolen Moments", "Con Alma" and seven more.  It's a mainstream tour de force for jazz flutes. Sure it's light on the ears, but it's not light jazz. It's a full throated jazz CD asking you to reconsider the role of the flute, and it succeeds brilliantly.

No comments:

Post a Comment