Lena Bloch (ts), Russ Lossing (p), Cameron Brown (b), Billy Mintz (d)
Bar code: 8427328435314
"I love playing with Lena and his quartet with Cameron and Billy. Delicate, devilishly detailed, heartfelt, organic music played by highly skilled and hard listening musicians. A truly wonderful experience".
"It is a rare and most pleasant surprise to encounter music that is new and different and find it instantly likable".
"A haunting lyrical beauty pours from the tenor saxophone of Lena Bloch and on her latest album she is joined by a trio of deeply empathetic veterans — double bassist Cameron Brown, drummer Billy Mintz and pianist Russ Lossing — to create a unified sound of powerful musical artistry. Together, they make up the aptly named quartet Feathery.
Such is the kinship of jazz that a Russian-Jewish saxophonist should blow a tribute to one of her teachers, black Muslim genius Yusuf Lateef.
Lateef Suite is part-threnody, part-celebration of the pioneering internationalist, with Bloch’s soft tones and Lossing’s more strident notes prefacing the entry of Cameron’s deep and sonorous bassline.
His solo bass is an earth-bound tribute in itself and Lossing’s keys invoke the drums of all continents.
There’s a poise and serenity in Bloch’s opening notes on title track Heart Knows, with Brown digging deep again and Lossing’s fingers creating a paean to love, alongside Mintz’s whispering brushes.
“Three treasures” are what Bloch calls her bandmates and this is her homage to them, punctuated by Mintz’s incessant strikes as her melody rises and soars.
French Twist, a Lossing original, is based on Bach’s French Suite in D Minor and it shows the breadth of musical history that these four musicians encompass. The piano, alone and inventive, begins before a breathy and tender Bloch enters, while Brown’s mollifying bass takes on a deep and gentle timbre that expresses a lifetime’s quest for beauty in the halls of jazz. The centuries and their genres and categories suddenly count for nothing.
Esmeh is the Farsi for “name” and its theme has a Persian lilt. It’s a direct reminder of Duke Ellington’s Isfahan from his Far East Suite but it’s more upbeat, with some brilliant Lossing and Bloch’s soft swing as akin to sax legend Lee Konitz as she reaches on the album.
Counter Clockwise, another Lossing composition, has the ruminative notes of Bloch’s horn sounding like tears falling, while submerged evocations of invasion and war emerge through Bloch’s Munir, a tribute to Iraqi oud virtuoso Munir Bashir. The quartet play insightfully throughout the track, particularly the luminous Lossing.
The album ends with Newfoundsong, another Lossing original, which is his soundscape of the Canadian province. Brown’s subliminal bass at its very human heart and Bloch’s notes are almost visual in their portraiture.
It completes a constantly surprising and engrossing album of superb musicianship."
Chris Searle (January 20, 2019)
"Lena Bloch, a saxophonist hailing from Moscow, moved to Israel in 1989. For 12 years she explored the European jazz scene (Germany and The Netherlands), after which she completed a Master's degree in composition in the United States, where she settled in 2008 (in Brooklyn, NY).
In 2014 she recorded her greatly acclaimed debut album "Feathery" with some celebrated jazz musicians: bassist Cameron Brown, drummer Billy Mintz and a young guitarist from Chicago: Dave Miller. After Miller's departure from New York, Lena replaced him with pianist/composer Russ Lossing, who (besides Lena) wrote half of the compositions on her newest release, "Heart Knows".
Lena Bloch is completely at home within the jazz tradition and gets her inspiration from her admiration of jazz heroes like Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano, Kenny Werner, Dave Holland,... legends of jazz music that she studied with. An example of this is Lateef Suite (dedicated to Yusef Lateef), the opening track of the album in which she displays her beautiful tenor sound. In spite of its complexity and its intricate layering the music is light as a feather in perception. It leaves such a deep impression that one is quickly tempted to listen to it again.
Lena Bloch displays a broad array of influences, music from East to West, from the classical to the avant-garde. She blends perfectly with the three other musicians on the album, who are excellent soloists and are highly sensitive in their musical communication. "Heart Knows" sounds spontaneous and familiar, yet has a very deep intensity, fresh and pure. Excellent jazz in the spirit of the present.
Bernard Lefèvre (January, 2018)
Jazz Halo (Belgium)
"Leader Lena Bloch describes this set as “spontaneous collective composing and instant musical communication”, an apt description of the collective empathy on display over what is a lengthy set of songs.
Bloch is of Russian origin and emigrated to Israel in 1990, later studying with Lee Konitz. His cool minimalism is evident in her breathy, wistful delivery, notably on the sensitive title track and the eloquent Counter Clockwise, but there is also a dark intensity to her playing that adds drama to proceedings when required. Likewise pianist Russ Lossing, whose urgency in places hides a romantic streak that comes well to the fore on French Twist. Cameron Brown is a superbly mobile force throughout, drummer Mintz offering discretion and support in equal measure.
What really stands out is the unity of this set, a uniformity of feeling and performance, of contemplation and occasional regret, that lasts the entire set. For a debut, Heart Knows is excellent."
Simon Adams (November, 2017)
Jazz Journal Magazine
"Tenor saxophonist Lena Bloch creates music artfully blending a strong sense of tradition with free-floating invention. Thus these tunes sound like they’re just coming into being and most assuredly not pre-packaged. Half the tunes are by Bloch and the other half come from the pen of pianist Russ Lossing.
The opening track is a reflection of Bloch’s studies with the late multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef. It opens with her stating a rich, melancholy theme, pulsing with life and passion. Bloch’s sound suggests the complex worlds of players like Warne Marsh, richly moving yet never clichéd. Lossing, bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Billy Mintz provide a tapestry behind Bloch’s haunting solo. It’s refreshing to hear a showcase for Brown, whom one can never take for granted—he’s been around through it all. Lossing is smart and sensitive and creates a statement utilizing jazz lines, the blues and even minimalism. The title track is a darkish ballad that invites sharing of some sadness, but also keeps the feelings mysterious. “Esmeh” brings into play Bloch’s study of Persian music as the players move through an Eastern landscape. And “Munir” is a tribute to an Iraqi oud master in which Lossing mutes his piano strings and Brown interprets one of the dedicatee’s improvisations.
Lossing demonstrates that he understands the workings of this group and its individual voices. “French Twist” is a gorgeous reharmonization of Bach with lovely piano coloration and a stunningly intimate solo by Brown while “Counter Clockwise” is an elegantly slow ballad in which every phrase, every pulse is felt. Also distantly beautiful is the pianist’s “Newfoundsong”, capturing his first impressions of that lonely area ofCanada.
The stunning thing about every performance here is the delicate blend of composed music and spontaneous invention."
Donald Elfman (November, 2017)
The New York City Jazz Records
Lena Bloch, a Russian in the USA
"The female tenor LENA Bloch was born in Russia in the Soviet era, but has been living in Brooklyn for years where she serves Jazz with her quartet FEATHERY (Russ Lossing piano, Cameron Brown bass, Billy Mintz drums are the other three).
Bloch has studied under Lee Konitz and follows his direction and advice on spontaneity improvisation on her own compositions with a lot of success. We note that of the eight tracks of her latest CD four are her own creations and the other four are the work of pianist Lossing. Her references in "Heart knows" (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2017) are many and varied.
As a former Soviet citizen she has a good relationship with what is referred to as "classical music", while at the same time one can distinguish hints of Eastern influence (Eastern Europe and the Middle East), with the touch of Konitz/ Tristano dominating both her own pieces and those of her pianist. As a result of that, there are exceptional subjects here, like the 8 minute track of "Heart Knows", that is not easy to decipher in its disguised....third wave.
Then again in the 7 minute "three treasures" they succeed in promoting the East. (Great bass from Cameron Brown, a musical ace, former associate of Archie Shepp and others.) Then there is the 13 minute track "French Twist" in which they move from Bach and end up somewhere further -in a ballad, with exceptional melodic functionality- and more like "Esmeh", the posses the way, the art and the technic to transport you to the limits of the old old Persian carvings, with the impressive craftsmanship of all the participants. In short, an exceptional album that surprised us!"
Diskoryxeion.blogspot.gr (November, 2017)