Reference: FSNT-200 + DVD901
The music included in this double deluxe digipack CD was recorded on September 29-30 and October 1-2, 2003, at Systems Two Recording Studios in Brooklyn, New York.
This production brought together many of the outstanding musicians that record for Fresh Sound "New Talent" and aims to reflects the openness of the label towards diverse tendencies that contemporary jazz presents.
The concept was that there would be 8 different composers directing and writing the music for the orchestra and each one would contribute an original piece and an arrangement, which the orchestra would them interpret under their direction and with complete creative freedom. The first CD is made up entirely of originals and the second one of arrangements of theme composed by personalities so different as Aphex Twin, Gustavo Leguizamón, Wayne Shorter, John Coltrane, George Gershwin or Dwayne Burno.
This DVD documents the recording of the double CD The Sound of New York Jazz Underground. Divided in eight chapters (one for each director) it shows us the musicians in studio during a rarely seen moment of their work.
- Subtitles in French and Spanish.
- Photo Gallery.
- Complete Fresh Sound New Talent catalogue.
"Modern jazz fans could throw darts at a board listing Fresh Sound New Talent albums and probably hit a winner nine times out of ten. So leave it to this label to come up with an artists' collaboration that is scary good when so many like-minded efforts are tepid market-driven failures.
The Sound Of New York Jazz Underground features 47 of the label's artists gathering as The New Talent Jazz Orchestra for a four-day recording session. Eight composers oversee one song on each of the album's two discs, the first devoted to originals and the second to arrangements of standards.
It's tempting to recommend it without hesitation, but a more realistic guideline is whether listeners consider the marriage of big band and a group like The Bad Plus a match made in heaven or something that ought to be outlawed with a constitutional amendment. This is first and foremost a triumph of composition and interpretation by the arrangers. It may make sense to listen to the second disc first where the twists on familiar material offer a better frame of reference into their work.
Gershwin inherits a Hummer on Frank Carlberg's tour of I Got Rhythm, for instance, a dark series of abruptly shifting free segments bearing little obvious resemblance to the showtune beyond a frenetic pace and a few discordant lyrics. Wayne Shorter fans will at least recognize Witch Hunt, which arranger Andrew Rathnu tweeks primarily by giving the melody an odd-meter treatment. The solos are solid, with a few such as Diego Urcola's never-say-rest trumpet on Rhythm inspiring, and remarkably variedBen Monder's electric guitar actually cradles listeners on Witch Hunt.
The originals are, of course, where the arrangers get to strut. An easy to absorb entry comes on Jason Lindner's opening Meditation On Two Chords, a somewhat modal tune with rich but evenhanded vocals from Kim Smith. Frank Carlberg's Heaven takes a poem of that name by Robert Creeley and gives it an Andrew Lloyd Webster pens acid jazz for the circus spin (and yet, there's Monder's guitar again). Guillermo Klein's Jumbo-Buen Dia Dia, based on a song he heard once on TV twenty years ago, sounds at various times like an orchestral tuneup, a world beat chant and groove funk (I don't think that the rhythm pitches or lyrics of what I wrote remained close he notes).
Speaking of notes, the ones accompanying the album offer a praiseworthy overview of the project, performers and descriptions from the arrangers of their thinking behind each song. A companion DVD, available separately or as part of a package, offers assorted clips that provide insight into the session, but doesn't have enough heft to recommend as a standalone purchase. The eight chapters focus on each arranger, but more in a documentary than performance sense, and each must be selected manually instead of simply allowing the entire disc to play through.
As a label showcase The Sound Of New York Jazz Underground is unquestionably a success, although it's worthy noting some prominent names are missingincluding those from the previously mentioned The Bad Plus, arguably the label's highest profile act. But since FSNT's name emphasizes new performers, it probably makes more sense anyhow to sample a collection of unfamiliar names without making comparisons to relative celebrities."
Mark Sabbatini (April, 2003)
-All About Jazz
"Fresh Sound has been recording young musicians on its New Talent division for the last ten years, giving a first venue in the studio to some of the most interesting young musicians of our time. Producer Jordi Pujol wanted to mark that decade of work somehow, and THE SOUND OF NEW YORK JAZZ UNDERGROUND was his answer. He created the NEW TALENT JAZZ ORCHESTRA, a collective of nearly fifty musicians who have recorded for the label in the past decade, selected eight of the musicians to write one new composition and one new arrangement for large ensemble, and set them free in the studio in Brooklyn for three days, September 29, 30 and October 1, 2003. The result is a double CD set (Fresh Sound New Talent 200; 53:58 & 59:38) and a DVD (FSNT DVD 901) documenting those three amazing days.
Actually its a strange choice for the video column, since this DVD that captures the NTJO is pretty raw stuff. Its divided into eight parts, each one capturing the studio sessions for one of the orchestras composers/arrangers. Theres not a lot of editing and or even close miking of conversations, we just get footage of the orchestra under the direction of one of these eight artists, sometimes interspersed with a little interview footage. So it is fascinating stuff, but not on its own. If you hadnt heard the CD results of these sessions, frankly this DVD would be confusing at best, much like stumbling on an open window in the alley and peeking in at these largely unknown artists chatting and playing and working on the charts. But once youve heard the 2 CDs of new music, the excitement of peeking in the rear window to see how it was done is great. The first CD holds all the original compositions (Meditation on Two Chords/ Jason Lindner; Heaven/ Frank Carlberg; Petite Promenade/ Magali Souriau; Nine/ Andrew Rathbun; Jumbo-Buen Dia Dia/ Guillermo Klein; Escondido/ Taylor Haskins; El Acecho/ Pablo Ablanedo; Noosh/ Avi Lebovich; 53:58) and the ensembles change from track to track. There is a lot of grand work here, all of it for large band, but highlights include Ablanedos tribute to Piazzola and Pascoal, El Acecho. And also the bouncing Petite Promenade by Magali Souriau, where Miguel Zenon and Chris Cheek stand out on reeds, is wonderful. The second CD may be even more fun, as the same eight composers now arrange a tune for the orchestra (Me Voy Quedando/ Ablanedo; Nannou/ Haskins; Silhouettes/ Lebovich; Witch Hunt/ Rathbun; Nefertiti/ Klein; Au Clair de la Lune/ Souriau; I Got Rhythm/ Carlberg; Giant Steps/ Lindner; 59:38).
One of the catchiest performances, so memorable that it serves for cover music on the DVD, is Taylor Haskins arrangement of Nannou by Aphex Twin. I can get a bit tired of Jazz musicians covering rock tunes, but this combination of Ben Monders electric guitar and Kleins Fender Rhodes with a horn section including Cheek, Zenon, and Haskins himself is atmospheric and hard to get out of your head. These are indeed worthy documents to celebrate ten years of very special and still largely unheralded work, and Fresh Sound is to be commended. The two CDs are a must, since Im sure some day well all be remembering these early works by now famous artists. If you dig the music and if you have ears that arent just painted on, you will dig the musicthen the DVD is worth acquiring. But Id say that Jordi Pujols New Talent Jazz Orchestra is indeed among the sounds of the next Jazz underground."
- Phillip McNally, Cadence Magazine
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