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Steve Fidyk: Battle Lines

Battle Lines

 

Jazz drummer and composer Steve Fidyk has just released the album “Battle Lines”, his third recording as a leader. The album features an all-star band of some of the finest musicians from the New York scene:

  • Steve Fidyk – Drums
  • Joe Magnarelli – Trumpet
  • Xavier Perez – Tenor Saxophone
  • Peter Zak – Piano
  • Michael Karn – Bass

The album starts with “Ignominy”, a composition by tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris. The tune is a straight jazz composition with an unusual length of 20 measures. We hear solos by Xavier Perez on saxophone, Joe Magnarelli on trumpet and Peter Zak on piano. A nice swinging start into this recording.

“Battle Lines”, the title song of the album comes next. It is the first of seven originals by Steve Fidyk.
The up-tempo piece features piano and saxophone and also Steve on drums. Great solos from all musicians and a pushing rhythm section make this song to my first highlight on the album.

The album continues with “Loopholes”. Steve has some information here: “I set out to write a ‘groove tune’ for this project; something that felt good and had a dance sensibility to it. I came up with the title idea as an extension from previous compositions I wrote for other solo recordings: The Flip Flopper (from Heads Up!) and Gaffe (from Allied Forces). Loopholes follows suit and was conceived with a similar approach. This tune features a funky swing feel with a 16-bar (A) and (B) section with solos by Joe Magnarelli, Xavier Perez and Peter Zak”.

“Thank You (Dziekuje)” by Dave Brubeck comes next. The Chopin inspired piece entitled Dziekuje, meaning “thank you” is an expression of gratitude for the fans of Brubeck during his 1958 visit to Poland. The song is arranged as a jazz waltz and has a great melody. Outstanding is the piano solo by Peter Zak. Definitely another highlight on the album.

“Bebop Operations” is the next song on the album. Great to hear that kind of music. The classic Bebop-feeling with trumpet, saxophone and rhythm section is brought alive in this song. The solos are also inspired in classic Bebop manner, entertaining and educational at the same time.

The album continues with “Bootlickers Blues”, a strange blues with a strange title. Steve explains: “A ‘bootlicker’ is a person who tries to gain influence or favor through a servile, obsequious or brown-nosing manner. The tune features a standard 12-measure blues form with a few measures of ’3/4 time’ mixed in to keep things interesting. The first chorus of piano and tenor follow the form of the melody, before breaking into a hard driving swing feel in 4/4 time over the blues form. The drum solo that follows the tenor is two choruses, accompanied by the bass and piano, over the form of the melody”.

“Lullaby for Lori and John” is a ballad which Steve Fidyk composed for his late parents. Steve has again some more details: “My folks had a traditional, ‘old school’ relationship for 60 years. My father worked 40+ hour weeks as a machinist at TOPPS Chewing Gum Factory, and my mom stayed home, raising myself and three siblings. When I was young, my father would also play gigs with his trio on tenor saxophone. On occasion, he would take me out with him on a Saturday night to hear his group play, and the drummer would let me sit in on a tune or two as the night came to a close. ‘Lullaby for Lori and John’ was recorded in one take and I was in tears by the end of it. It features the incredible fluegelhorn sound of Joe Magnarelli”.

“Churn” an up-tempo original in 6/8 meter is the next song. Steve has another chance to shine in an accompanied drum solo over the introduction vamp played by Michael Karn on bass.

The album continues with “Steeplechase” by Charlie Parker. Second chance to hear the Bebop class of this band. The song features Xavier Perez on tenor saxophone and Peter Zak on piano and a classical 8/8 trading solos with the drums.

“#Social Loafing” is the next song dedicated to those who spend an excessive amount of time on social media. This original by Steve Fidyk comes as a medium swinger with straight chord progressions and the band enjoys this with nice solos by Xavier Perez, Joe Magnarelli, Peter Zak and a 1/2 chorus of drums on the first two A-sections of the final head.

The album finishes with “Sir John”, composed and recorded by trumpet legend Blue Mitchell on his 1960 LP Blue’s Moods. The original recording features Wynton Kelly on piano, Sam Jones on bass and Roy Brooks on drums. “Sir John” is a cool standard blues and it showcases solos by each member.

“Battle Lines” is an excellent jazz album with an outstanding cast of musicians. The music is rooted deeply in the Bebop tradition and the band masters the various styles with ease and a wink. It’s good to hear that this music is so alive and vibrant it shows that there is sometimes no need for major experiments in Jazz music, just have fun and play and the result will be brilliant.

More information about Steve Fidyk and upcoming shows are found on his website:
https://stevefidyk.com

And finally the complete album on Spotify:

David Gilmore: From Here To Here

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Guitarist and composer David Gilmore (not to be mixed with David Gilmour from Pink Floyd) has released a new album on Criss Cross Jazz called “From Here to Here”. The album features eight original compositions from David Gilmore plus two covers.

I have met David Gilmore some years ago in Langnau where he taught the guitar class during the Langnau Jazz Festival. He enjoyed teaching, we had a great time with him and he also showed his mastery in the concerts and the jam sessions.

The album was recorded in 2018 and the line-up includes E.J. Strickland on drums whom I also met at that time in Langnau.

The complete line-up is:

  • David Gilmore – guitar
  • Luis Perdomo – piano
  • Brad Jones- bass
  • E.J. Strickland – drums

The album starts with “Focus Pocus”, a very energetic composition by David Gilmore. After a great guitar solo E.J. Stricklands on drums and Luis Perdomo on piano get their chance to shine.  Excellent start into the album and it makes appetite for more music from this band.

“Cyclic Episode” by Sam Rivers is the next song. A nice composition with interesting changes and great dynamic support by drums and bass during the guitar and piano solo. Trading 8 bars of guitar solo with 8 bars drums solo completes the tune in best jam style.

The album continues with “Metaverse”, a song where the harmonies remind me of Miles Davis’ music from his electric phase in the 1980′s. The guitar comes distorted, the melody is very artistic and the groove moves between even and swing. The solo is a dialog between guitar and piano. A great tune.

In sharp contrast is “Child of Time” where David Gilmore plays on  a nylon guitar. This beautiful ballad features David Gilmore on guitar and Luis Perdomo on piano.

The band returns to an electric sound  with “When and Then”. The precision of this band is amazing, the melody is played in unison and all the little breaks just fit perfectly. We hear again two excellent solos by guitar and piano.

“Innerlude” is the next song. This soft composition by David Gilmore starts very light and open and indulges itself in it’s harmonies.

The album continues with “Interplay” by Bill Evans. This jazz classics features Brad Jones on bass. His great solo is outperformed by an incredible guitar solo. Sound and style of this song keep the spirit of the original with Jim Hall on guitar. One of my highlights on the album.

“The Long Game” is the next song. Another very rhythmic composition that allows E.J. Strickland to set the course. Bass and piano provide the background in unison for the staccato melody played in unison by piano and guitar.  Chapeau for Luis Perdomo for this outstanding performance.

The album continues with “Free Radicals”. The fast latin groove is the foundation for extensive solos by piano,  distorted guitar and drums. After an interlude Brad Jones gets his chance for a bass solo.

“Libation” is the last song on the album. The guitar starts the groove of the song followed by an open and melodic part. Solos by guitar, piano and bass round up this modern jazz composition.

“From Here to Here” is a great album from one of the best guitar players on the scene today matched by a rhythm section of New York first-callers. Contemporary jazz compositions and excellent solos presented with a lot of energy and enthusiasm are the main characteristics of this album.

The closing words come from David Gilmore:
“I wanted to get a smaller working group in the studio to facilitate touring. My very first record Ritualism was centered around a guitar-piano-bass-drums quartet; I wanted to return to that format (a) because I like it, and (b) because of logistics.”

So let’s hope we see him touring with this music and hopefully also with these outstanding musicians.

More information about David Gilmore and upcoming shows are found on his website:
http://www.davidgilmore.net/

And finally the complete album on Spotify: