Tuesday, February 23, 2010

CD of the Week - "Loren Stillman: Winter Fruits"

CD of the Week
Loren Stillman: "Winter Fruits" (Pirouet) 2009

Rating: *****
The follow-up to "Blind Date," recorded in 2007 with Gary Versace (on piano), Drew Gress (bass) & Joey Baron (drums), which led Stillman to place # 3 in the alto sax category of the Jazz Station Poll that year, this new "Winter Fruits" once again features Versace, but this time on organ, plus Nate Radley (electric guitar) & Ted Poor (drums). A bass-less contemporary jazz quartet was formed and... bingo! It's a perfect session, with eight highly inventive originals - six composed by the leader and two by the subtle drummer.

Surprising, radiant, with a spellbinding air of mystery and magic, "Winter Fruits" earned the NY-based English reedman Loren Stillman to be acclaimed as the "best alto sax of 2009" in the 31st Annual Jazz Station Poll, since his stunning performance had been even better than the ones by Kenny Garrett, Phil Woods, Anthony Braxton and Lee Konitz on their respective projects released last year.

"Winter Fruits," with its outstanding sax-guitar-organ-drums instrumentation, also led Gary Versace (who placed # 8 in the 2009 DownBeat Readers Poll) to the top of the organ players in our list, thanks to an extremely personal and creative approach on this instrument, with touches of the best of Larry Young here and there, but mostly Versace's own voice. For complete results of the poll, please check:

Magician of musical textures and colours, virtuoso of shading, Loren Stillman writes with stylistic self-assurance and sensitivity about the most sensual mysteries of modern jazz. With breathtaking joy at the musical give-and-take, rhythmic compactness, and striking precision, these four musicians achieve a marvellous world of sounds full of riveting mystery and textural nuances of delicate subtlety and masterful enchantment.

Alto saxophonist Loren Stillman has an amazingly creative head on his shoulders: he makes music that is so absorbingly different. Stillman knows how to ensnare his listeners. He does it with expertise and subtlety, and his captives enjoy their imprisonment. Stillman was born in 1980 in London, but he grew up in the USA in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, and currently lives in Brooklyn. His uncle, saxophonist Mike Stillman, inspired him to pick up that instrument, and so at the age of seven Loren began to take lessons from him. Over the last years he has been acclaimed by such magazines as Down Beat as a "rising star", and has played with Charlie Haden, Dave Liebman, and John Abercrombie. He names Lee Konitz and Wayne Shorter as musical influences, but along with them he also counts Hungarian composer Béla Bartók and the master of many styles, Frank Zappa.

Loren will be performing tomorrow, February 24, at Barnes (see post above, please). If you're in the NY area, don't miss it.

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