Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
A brilliant debut
Jan P. Dennis | Monument, CO USA | 07/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We seem to be experiencing a wealth of spectacular jazz drummers. One thinks of Jeff Ballard, Billy Kilson, Matt Wilson, Michael Sarin, Michael Vatcher, Brian Blade, Jim Black, Lewis Nash, Nasheet Waits, John Hollenbeck, Susie Ibarra, Terreon Gully, Karriem Riggins, Tom Rainey, Kenny Wollesen--the list just goes on and on.
Ari Hoenig certainly belongs in the same exalted company as those mentioned above (and definitely ahead of at least a few of them). For one so young (early 30s) he's played in a bunch of interesting gigs, including Jean-Michel Pilc's trio, Kenny Werner's trio, The Jazz Mandolin Project, and The Josh Roseman Unit as well as with Richard Bona, Thor Madsen, Julien Lourau, Jacques Schwarz-Bart, and James Hurt. Quite a resume.
This, his first disc as leader (not counting two self-produced percussion projects), makes a very strong impression--as much from the standpoints of composition (all five originals are his), arranging (brilliant arrangements of Monk's "I Mean You" and Gershwin's "Summertime"), and band leadership as of playing. Make no mistake, he has a startling original approach to his kit; it's just that one doesn't expect such maturity in the other areas from one so young. Recorded live at New York's Fat Cat, with a brilliance of clarity and musical precision seldom found on live recordings, this disc burns brightly from the git go and throughout the proceedings.
The group is a very special one. Jean-Michel Pilc on piano of course needs no introduction to anyone who's been following edgy jazz for the past few years. One of the absolutely finest of the emerging younger pianists (e.g., Jason Moran, Brad Mehldau, Craig Taborn, Omar Sosa, Sylvie Courvoisier, Benoit Delbecq, Chris Gestrin), he here proves the perfect partner/foil/supporter to Hoenig. It certainly helps that they've been playing together for more than five years. Jacques Schwarz-Bart, a Brazilian by way of Boston, has also played quit a bit with Hoenig (who's featured on his Fresh Sound debut). He brings a huge tenor sound to the proceedings. Indeed, one can scarcely imagine a tenor player more suited to this group. Bassist Matt Penman is a name new to me, but he certainly acquits himself with monster chops and an uncanny sensitivity to group improv.
Some of these tunes sound like instant standards, especially the title cut and "Remembering," and all are memorable, not least the band's take on the real standards, "I Mean You," which, although almost unrecognizable, retains a true Monkish feel and is fueled by a reckless and relentless energy. The same is true of "Summertime." Again, it's scarcely recognizable, with its whacked-out chord voicings, deconstructed rhythms, and alien aural conception, coming across more as a furious summer storm than a sultry ballad. But the results are simply startling and very much worth hearing.
In short, Ari Hoenig is a jazz musician you need to be aware of (if you aren't already). Certain to become a major presence on the jazz scene in the next few years, he's someone worth getting acquainted with now, before he becomes the next Elvin Jones or Roy Haynes or Bill Stewart."
Expect some fireworks
N. Dorward | Toronto, ON Canada | 07/27/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Of the releases so far on the Smalls label (I've heard them all), this is the odd one out. Smalls usually favours discs which bypass the more obvious referencepoints of contemporary jazz (i.e. the usual melange of Bill Evans, Miles's 1960s quintet, mid-period Coltrane, a little of 1960s Wayne Shorter & Herbie Hancock), in favour of a direct link to 1940s & 1950s bop & hard-bop. But _The Painter_ is squarely within the current jazz mainstream. Jean-Michel Pilc is a virtuosic, over-the-top pianist in a post-Hancock/Jarrett/Mehldau vein: it can be way too much sometimes, but it's pretty entertaining if you're in the right mood. Jacques Schwartz-Bart does good if not terribly surprising tenor sax in the accepted Wayne+Trane mode, & bassist Matt Penman is as always reliable. But the real reason to check this out is Hoenig, who's a fine drummer with an uncanny ear: there's a genuinely impressive bit on "Summertime" where he plays the familiar Gershwin theme unaccompanied on his kit, & the tune is perfectly audible in the pitches of the drums."