John McNeil had the idea of applying some of Gerry Mulligan's arranging principles to free jazz after arranging some of the late baritone saxophonist's music for a tribute band. Recruiting baritone saxophonist Alan Chase, bassist John Hebert, and the much in-demand drummer Matt Wilson, McNeil's experiment creates some provocative music. "Deadline" features a constantly shifting time signature, changing its mood throughout the piece, contrasting it with the more steady and loping "A Time to Go." McNeil's humorous take of "Bernie's Tune" (long a part of Mulligan's repertoire, though written by Bernie Miller) quickly takes it away from its roots for a wild ride on his horn into the world of free jazz. He also adapts Arnold Schoenberg's 12-tone classical music into his realm with his playful arrangement of "Schoenberg's Piano Concerto." Throughout the session the band is up to the challenges of McNeil's compelling music, producing a provocative CD that should open ears for decades to come.
Thirty-five years old and still going strong, The Yellowjackets aren’t letting a little matter like the third bass player in as many albums break their stride. One of the top quality electric jazz bands over these three and half decades now welcomes its newest bass virtuoso in Australian Dane Alderson just in time for their latest release Cohearence. Still comprising of Bob Mintzer on reeds, Will Kennedy on drums and sole remaining founding member Russell Ferrante on keys, the Yellowjackets retain plenty enough heritage to still be very much the Yellowjackets, enough that the ever-changing bass chair hadn’t prevented the band from reeling off a string of consistently strong long players at a time when most long-running concerns are winding down. Cohearence continues that winning streak.
It has been nearly a decade since Kayhan Kalhor and Erdal Erzincan recorded The Wind for ECM. During that long interval, the pair have played together so often, they appear to have perfected a musical language that walks not only between various musical traditions but through them simultaneously, coming through the other side with something timeless. Kalhor is an Iranian master of the kamancheh (spike fiddle). He has a relentlessly mercurial musical mind. It's been displayed not only in his work as a solo artist, with the duo Ghazal, and the ensemble Dastan, but also in Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble. Erzincan is regarded as the greatest living practitioner of the Anatolian baglama tradition.