Colleagues & Elders: Curtis Nowosad, Kyle Nasser, Nick Sanders, Miles Okazaki

I continue to maintain the resolute "no reviews" policy on this blog, which stands for a variety of reasons: the desire not to be pegged as a jazz critic/journalist/writer, to not surrender my prideful, beleaguered defense against Conflict Of Interest, to not burn bridges in a digitized jazz community where a smolder easily finds plentiful accelerant, and so on. However, I think it's important to use whatever platform I have to highlight work by friends, colleagues, and elders that should get more attention. With that said, I submit to you:

Dialectics, Curtis Nowosad (March 17, 2015)

With Jimmy Greene, Derrick Gardner, Steve Kirby & Will Bonness

I wrote the liner notes to Curtis's record because the music on the album emblematizes a trend I'd been thinking about at the time: the idea of "neo-hard bop," an obnoxiously clunky coinage I'd heard from another friend and couldn't get out of my ear. But why couldn't I get it out of my ear? Sure, it sounds dumb, but there's something to it that rings true, something about it that speaks to the failure of genre designations to capture what it is that unifies but distinguishes different communities of artists and streams of influence. I may publish those notes later on, but, suffice to say, tight arrangements and unapologetically mainstream modern jazz here. 

Curtis plays drums. Now available on iTunes. 

Restive Soul, Kyle Nasser (March 24, 2015)

With Jeff Miles, Dov Manski, Chris Van Voorst, and Devin Drobka

I met Kyle, a tenor player, during the summer of 2013 as I was collecting notes for my thesis project. I heard him play at The Fifth Estate in Brooklyn, where he'd been playing weekly for a long time, and was impressed by the sound: exceedingly fluent, to my ears sonically comparable to Mark Turner, and generally perplexing. He ultimately made a cameo in the thesis, offering up the following advice that I still think is pretty much inarguable: 

"You can always work on things: sound and time!"

This is (was) his working band, recorded in August 2013. Available on CDBaby.

You Are A Creature, Nick Sanders Trio (February 17, 2015)

With Henry Fraser & Connor Baker

This is an all-NEC band. Nick, a pianist, graduated a few years before, and bassist Henry Fraser and drummer Connor Baker entered the school the same time that I did. Henry and Connor have an amazing hookup (this has been known to all of NEC and Boston in general for the past half-decade), and Nick is, well, Nick. This is the trio's third album (their second for Sunnyside after Nameless Neighbors). I don't know—it's just really good music. I feel like this band should be gigging a whole lot more and getting more press than they are. If I lived in New York, I know I'd be trying to play more sessions with these guys.

Available on iTunes.

Fundamentals of Guitar, Miles Okazaki (February 25, 2015)

I've heard that this book has been in the works for a long time, and for good reason: it starts from the absolute basics, i.e., the properties of a vibrating string, and moves step by step from there (no rocks left unturned, e.g., a section on "every way to play two notes on the guitar...all possible dyads in any position" and many others that are similarly comprehensive). Click here to read more about the book and see demonstrations by Miles on tuning, symmetrical picking, rhythmic tiling, and so forth. In Miles's own words:

"This book is meant to serve a multiplicity of personalities and skill levels – the reader is invited to skip around and explore it at any point, according to what seems interesting. There is no reference to the correctness of any particular approach – a primary goal here is to recognize and enjoy that the creative process is different for every individual. We choose the tools that best fit our needs. Think of this book as a creative toolbox – no two people will use it the same way. There is no preferred system for representing musical concepts on the page – I’ve used or invented whatever notation seems most effective for any particular purpose."

Available from Mel Bay.

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More Records You're Probably Already Aware Of, Which I'll Remind You Of Again

Tootie Heath Trio - Philadelphia Beat
Vijay Iyer Trio - Break Stuff
Rudresh Mahanthappa - Birdcalls
Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth - Epicenter
Tim Berne's Snakeoil - You've Been Watching Me
Matt Mitchell Quartet - TBA (but, for now, check out his amazing website)

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Great On Paper went into the studio last weekend to document some of the music we've had in the book. We'll be mixing this weekend. More news is forthcoming.