Bar code: 8427328424547
"Stackens a pianist who, rather like George Colligan, pushes at the boundaries in subtle ways. As a composer his break with the tradition is arguably more overt, but the combination of the two makes for music which entices the ear. Hes got himself a fresh-sounding quartet on this release, an impression reinforced by Malabys presence as it feels like hes one of the few lions out there capable of coaxing something personal as opposed to a summary of influences - out of the tenor sax. Sad Clown is as episodic as anything here, but the episodes are never less than intriguing."
-Nic Jones (Jazz Journal, November 2014)
"Jazz holds up to every kind of methodology. Helleborus, the scintillating and often beautiful new album by the pianist Jesse Stacken, involves more than one, with two distinct approaches in the intention and the execution.
On its face, the album is a collection of nine original tunes, ranging from the interior to the expansive, gracefully illuminated by a smart acoustic quartet. Only upon a closer look does a procedural back story emerge: These pieces came about during a yearlong weekly composition project initiated by Mr. Stacken in May 2012. Working according to a strict schedule, he wrote a new piece every week, posting a home recording along with the score and, often, a dash of contextual insight on his website http://www.jessestacken.com
Some of the earliest of those compositions like Give, an ethereal ballad built around intervallic thirds, and Hidden Solitude, inspired by Olivier Messiaens diminished scale found their way onto this album. Others came from later in the game, when Mr. Stacken had stopped thinking about études. Cork Soles is a postbop number with a sly, prowling bounce; the title track, one of the last in the series, proceeds almost as an elegy.
Its hard to say whether these nine tunes, out of a possible 52, represent the best of Mr. Stackens output. Whats clear is the quality of his cohesion with the saxophonist Tony Malaby, the bassist Sean Conly and the drummer Tom Rainey. At every turn on Helleborus, the ensemble plays with gusto, coherence and license, heeding the framework without ever sounding hemmed in."
Nate Chinen (December 22, 2014)
-The New York Times
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