Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tom Goehring is Chartbound at Jazzweek


A Reflected Journey is a new Jazz quintet album by Tom Goehring consisting of four originals and five standards, the latter of which have been re-arranged / re-harmonized by the leader to excellent effect. The album features veteran players from the East Coast who have created music with a variety of textures and grooves while maintaining a cohesive group sound throughout. The personnel are Tom Goehring on trumpet and flugelhorn, Roger Rosenberg on baritone and soprano saxophones and bass clarinet, Dave Leonhardt on piano, Matt Parrish and Roy Cumming alternating on acoustic bass and Paul Wells on drums.

Goehring makes good use of Roger Rosenberg's skills as a multi-reed player on the nine tracks, alternately having him play baritone saxophone, soprano saxophone and bass clarinet while the leader switches between flugelhorn and trumpet. These combinations create a wide range of textures that Goehring employs as each composition dictates (a skill set developed during Goehring's many years as a member of the BMI Jazz Composer's workshop where he composed for big band).

The album's title track, "A Reflected Journey," leads off with Goehring's flugelhorn blending lithely with Rosenberg's bass clarinet over a minimalist rhythm section vamp in a latin-ish 3/4. This opens into a broader, even more contrapuntal restatement of the melody that finds Rosenberg's counter-lines darting in and out of a pulsing rhythm section. Flugelhorn and bass clarinet soar in their improvisations before a more contemplative solo from pianist Dave Leonhardt; bassist Matt Parrish's solo showcases his beautiful sound and technical prowess. Paul Wells does a superb job of coloring the music from beginning to end, switching from brushes to sticks and back as the music dictates.

Goehring's mournful "For Beverly" was written in memory of his former sister-in-law and 9/11 victim, Beverly Curry, who worked on the 102nd floor of 1 World Trade Center. Flugelhorn and baritone take turns stating the haunting melody before joining forces with a surging, swinging rhythm section for the final section of the song. Dave Leonhardt's touch sparkles as he builds into Roger Rosenberg's fiery baritone solo; the rhythm section's musicality is on full display as they create space for Goehring' s somber flugelhorn solo.

"Clarion Call" is an up-tempo, modal romp that features Goehring on trumpet and Rosenberg on baritone. After a fanfare-inspired melody, trumpet and baritone have their say; drummer Paul Well's tremendous solo continues through rhythm section hits to a shout chorus with the entire ensemble.

The last of Goehring's originals, "The Walkdown," is a minor blues named for the composition's descending bass line. Goehring's trumpet and Rosenberg's soprano saxophone dance over the Coltrane-ish modal vamp before hitting a melody punctuated by well-placed rhythm section breaks and hits. Goehring's bebop lines are followed by a searing soprano solo by Rosenberg and Dave Leonhardt rounds things out with a tasteful, swinging improvisation.

"Bossa Nova Ova" is a nod to one of Goehring's idols, trumpeter and composer Thad Jones. Goehring is faithful to Jones' incredibly well-crafted original with the exception of adding an extended solo section for the horns and piano. After Rosenberg, Goehring and Leonhardt solo, the three trade solos before Jones' shout chorus takes them out. From beginning to end, "Bossa Nova Ova" is a small group gem!

Goehring's beautiful re-harmonization of the ballad "Old Folks" is the sole quartet piece on this CD. It starts out with the leader in a duet setting with pianist Dave Leonhardt: dense piano chords progress slowly underneath the melody played on flugelhorn before the piece opens up for the rest of the rhythm section. Leonhardt kicks off the solos followed by Goehring, then Roy Cumming's warm bass sound closes things out.

"Con Alma" by Dizzy Gillespie (another trumpet idol of Goehring's) is arranged with intros and interludes added to the song form. For the intro, trumpet and baritone saxophone lines chase each other over a 12/8 Afro-Cuban groove before delving into Gillespie's classic melody. The arrangement switches back and forth between 12/8 and swing as the soloists hold forth. Drummer Paul Wells' ability to drive the ensemble from beginning to end maintains the energy and excitement of this track.

A funky rendition of "Grazing in the Grass," made famous by South African trumpeter Hugh Masakela follows. Goehring's version is largely faithful to the original though his re-harmonization of parts of the melody adds some refreshing twists. Dave Leonhardt's bluesy, funky piano solo is a highlight on this one!

The CD finishes with the standard "Namely You," a selection inspired by the classic Sonny Rollins quartet recording. Goehring and bassist Cumming start in a duet, leaving Rosenberg's oaky bass clarinet and the rhythm section to finish off the melody. Leonhardt builds his solo beautifully, channeling Wynton Kelly at the beginning and ending with powerful block chords as the band heats up for solos by Rosenberg, Goehring and Cumming. The ending of "Namely You" has a charming "chamber music" feel to it: Rosenberg's improvised bass clarinet lines and Cumming steady bass move forward under Goehring's melody to bring the piece to a punctuated close.

Though the compositions and arrangements are Goehring's, this CD was truly a collaborative effort. Each member of the ensemble made suggestions during rehearsals that had an impact on almost every track, from Paul Well's adding breaks to "The Walkdown," to Parrish changing the feel of sections of "For Beverly" to Rosenberg's improvised arpeggios on "Namely You." Given the level of experience and accomplishment of the players involved, this is definitely a CD worth listening to!
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