Bar code: 8427328422536
Alto Saxophonist Jeremy Udden is an East Coast native with a sound and style coming out of the cool-school, but with a flair for the modern aggresiveness of rock and free jazz. He is very active as a member of Grammy nominated "Either/Orchestra" and is in demand as a sideman for many creative and new projects in New York City and Boston.
His own album features legend Bob Brookmeyer along with a heavyweight band including Matt Wilson, Ben Monder, and John Lockwood.
"The experience Jeremy Udden gained through a six-year stint with Boston's Either/Orchestra seems to have given the saxophonist's debut album a variety of moods. The album was recorded in two sessions in 2003 and 2005, and several of the compositions were written while Udden was confined to his apartment for four months due to a case of severe vertigo. Udden essentially recorded two separate groups utilizing Ben Monder (guitar), John Lockwood (bass), Matt Wilson (drums) and guest Bob Brookmeyer (valve trombone) for the 2003 sessions, and Nathan Blehar (tenor sax), Tim Miller and Ben Monder (guitar), Leo Genovese (keyboards), Garth Stevenson (bass) and Ziv Ravitz (drums) for the 2005 recordings.
Udden shows the ability to play in different styles ranging from lyrical to avant garde. He claims to have been inspired by Lee Konitz, and one can hear that in his technique. The opening track on Torchsongs, Every Step, a relaxed midtempo composition, begins with a wash from the mid-1960s, as if you were listening to one of the Paul Desmond/Jim Hall RCA mood jazz sessions with Udden (he does play soprano sax on this track); Matt Wilson's brushes provide a pretty fair impression of Connie Kay.
The second track, Tut Muffin, plays along at the same tempo with a more modern accompaniment from Genovese on Fender Rhodes. Bob Brookmeyer turns up on Marin and, after his solo, intertwines contrapuntally with Udden's soprano on valve trombone, as if it were still the mid-1950s on Pacific Jazz Records. A fragmentary cover of Steve Lacy's Blinks is a lot closer to free jazz. Genovese's fusion-ish Rhodes solo sets the tone, while drummer Ziv Ravitz and Monder provide the dissonance.
The '80s pop hit Eternal Flame provides a touching melody statement and solo from Udden alto sax, but also sets up an ear-splitting rock solo from Monder on guitar. Brookmeyer and Udden (on alto) provide a closing coda on the duet Afterthought."
—Michael P. Gladstone (All About Jazz)
"Saxophonist Jeremy Udden brought his sextet to Cornelia Street Café recently in support of his debut disc, Torchsongs, comprised mostly of his originals that blend straightahead themes laced with jazz/rock influences. Udden displayed a soft yet sure touch on alto (he plays soprano on the disc, too, but didn't pick up the second horn at the show), and his originals provided solid melodic opportunities for the band members to build on.
In a sense, the live performance allowed the band to complete some unfinished business. On Torchsongs, Eternal Flame fades out as guitarist Ben Monder is playing a blistering solo, leaving the song with a case of something like McLaughlin interruptus. On the bandstand, however, Monders unbound guitar growled and scratched as he razed the boundaries of the arrangement, splashing color all around like Jackson Pollock at a canvas.
On Steve Lacys Blinks the septet stretched out by playing with a wealth of texture and invention. Fender Rhodes player Leo Genovese, drummer Ziv Ravitz and bassist Garth Stevenson were excellent; Monder made his ax purr like an Indy car, and Udden played his most exploratory and challenging choruses of the evening.
Tunes like Every Step and Tut Muffin skirt the edges of fusion via Genovese's Rhodes stylings, Monders fiery guitar and Ravitzs percussive underpinnings. At the other extreme, Bob Brookmeyers world-weary trombone waltzes nicely with Uddens soprano on Marin. Genoveses impassioned playing on Fish Lake gives the tune a Bad Plus kind of tension, whereas Udden, Stevenson and Ravitz team up on Loaded for one of the most dynamic collaborations on the disc."
—Terrell Kent Holmes (All About Jazz)