Bar code: 8427328435284
The idea for this record came to me a few years ago. I was wondering how to convey the energy and particular reality of certain emotions and thoughts that I have. I noticed that some of them were tied up with the sound of the guitar—that big, dynamic, rhythmic, searing vibe we all know and love. Others were linked to the warm, brilliant sounds of the brass ensembles that I grew up listening to and playing in (I played the trumpet through high school). The question: how to harness the sound of guitar and brass ensemble for my next record? The answer: use guitar and a brass ensemble! Simple. The Wurlitzer 200A is a meaningful instrument for me… it sounds like the inside of my head, if you know what I mean. So it’s on the record as well, sometimes on its own with the band and other times laid on top of the piano.
Matthew Stevens (I call him Matt Stevens) and I grew up playing music together in Toronto. We met at the age of 8 or 9, and one of our first musical endeavors was performing the Bach- Gounod “Ave Maria” in a living-room recital at my house. I remember it so clearly… Matt has gone on to become a unique voice on the instrument. I know his sound really well and it’s so different from what I do, and yet I’ve always felt totally comfortable and happy when we play music. Matt also has great listening chops and can quickly think of lots of ways to approach things differently avd solve problems, so he was an obvious choice to help produce.
I can’t remember who told me I would love a record these young brass guys calling themselves The Westerlies had put out, but they were right…their debut record went straight to my innermost musical space and stayed there. Just the sound of them playing together, their tones blending so perfectly while somehow remaining distinct, the virtuosity and beautiful expressiveness of the music…it really did it for me, and I wrote them a fan email asking if they would be into collaborating. They were a dream to work with…Andy did the bulk of the arranging and did a fantastic job.
Instead of writing new pieces for The Westerlies to play, I wanted to see what it would be like to hear the same songs expressed from two angles on the same record. Hence the mirror-image nature; the versions by the brass and the jazz quartet are recognizably the same song, but could not be more different in timbre and feeling. There is consonance and dissonance, the harsh and the smooth, the spontaneous and the carefully wrought. I hope you enjoy it.
"Canadian-born and New York City-based jazz pianist Jamie Reynolds has just released a challenging and deeply moving recording, featuring himself on acoustic piano and Wurlitzer as well as special guests Matthew Stevens on guitar (who also served as co-producer), Orlando LeFleming on acoustic and electric bass and Eric Doob on drums. Other key players on this project are the noted brass quartet, the Westerlies, featuring Andy Clauson and Willem de Koch on trombones, and Zubin Hensler and Riley Mulherkar on trumpets.
In the planning stages Reynolds determined that in order to achieve the artistic expression, depth and meaning that he was looking for, he would arrange most of his 14 original compositions on the CD to be played in two diverse ways – by his trio plus Stevens and also by a brass quartet... thereby illustrating in a very real way, the constant, and often distorted and contradictory mirror images of nature.
The opening track, The Earliest Ending, is first expressed as a brief intro of stunning, warm and moving brass lines, and later as an almost Satie-like piano solo which seamlessly melds into sensual, lush guitar lines. The same juxtaposition occurs with Small Worlds, a hard-driving, face-melting guitar-centric quartet take, followed later in the program by a smooth and beautiful brass arrangement of the same composition. Other superb tracks include the evocative title track, which features excellent solos from the quartet and the stirring Good Help, replete with the distinctive, percussive sound of the Wurlitzer electric piano as well as concise and solid bass work from LeFleming.
Lesley Mitchell-Clarke (November, 2017)
"Who thinks in big pictures and broad strokes. But on the orchestrational level, he’s all about detail and nuance. That’s a winning combination, and it works to mellifluous effect on Grey Mirror.
The idea for this project came several years ago, when the pianist tried to envision how a song would sound if played by a brass ensemble and then by a guitar-led jazz quartet. Struck with the unique qualities of these diverse settings, he decided to record an album that featured both groups. Grey Mirror is the result. Of its 14 tracks, five feature accompaniment by the brass ensemble The Westerlies, and four feature guitarist Matthew Stevens. Some songs—like “The Earliest Ending” and “Small Worlds” —appear on the album twice, rendered once in brass and once in guitar. Other tracks feature Reynolds’ core trio, which includes drummer Eric Doob and bassist Orlando LeFleming. “Good Help” captures their percolating energy perfectly, with a triumphant bass line by LeFleming and an incandescent drum beat that makes the whole song flicker and glow."
Brian Zimmerman (December, 2017)
"Pianist Jamie Reynolds teams up with a core of Matthew Stevens/g, Orlando LeFleming/b and Eric Doob/dr and take part in engaging extra support at times. The Westerilies, consisting of Andy Clausen/tb, Willem de Koch/tb, Zubin Hensler/tp and Riley Mulherkar/tp give a clever and almost Mahlerian fragrance to pieces such as “The Earliest Ending,” Small Worlds,” “The Latest Beginning” and Lake Cycle.”
All of the brass tacks are delivered polished and warm, with moments of solos as well as locked arms. The working foundation has the leader in sublime and melodic mood, playing both piano and Wurlitzer, creating deft work on ”Good Help” and “Lake Cycle.” Doob has an intuitive approach to his role, while Stevens’ lithe guitar serves well in linear direction. Rewarding for thoughtful contemplations."
George W. Harris (October 19, 2017)