Album Review by Carmel DeSoto

RESONANCE “Introductions,” 2013

Style: Jazz

Label: Mandala Records.

Musicians: Stephen McQuarry – piano; Georgianna Kreiger – soprano, alto & baritone saxophones; Laura Austin Wiley – piccolo, C – flute & alto flute, vocal; Michele Walther – violin; Michele Mastin – viola; Nancy Bien – cello; Ted Burik – double bass; Greg German – drums.

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An octet in itself is a huge commitment when writing charts and organizing each member’s part of the overall collective sound.

Introductions is just that vehicle to convey composer Steve McQuarry’s colorful and emotional character. Blended textures and colors of jazz, classical and complex rhythms, create a harmonic canvas that is pure delight.

Anchored by talent, training, and experience, it is the embodiment of imagery, with endless surprises, created by an adaptable group of superlative musicians whose voicings and boldness delight the listener with excitement and originality.

RESONANCE collectively pushes the ‘jazz envelope’ with a fearlessness that forces uncharted space for exhilarating musical exploration. They underscore artistic discernment and prodigious talent by playing the music of an eclectic group of celebrated songwriters and composers, including Lennon/McCartney, Ellington, Miles, Jimmy Heath, and Stanley Clarke/Chick Corea; adding modernity, freshness and balance with two original compositions by pianist Steve McQuarry.

Lennon/McCartney’s 1966 hit “Eleanor Rigby,” a tune perfectly suited for woodwinds and

strings is given a new treatment of reintroduction.  No longer weary, or eccentric, if anything, aged well and much suppler around the edges and contours. Like a finely aged woman who shows the kind sophistication, and sensuous maturity that Steve McQuarry’s piano can’t help but notice, leaving it to baritone saxophonist Georgianna Kreiger to reprise the aching lament of “all the lonely people” that forever represents the signature emotion in the masterpiece, originally created by Lennon/McCartney.

It is always a risk to touch such masterful selections, but RESONANCE pulls it off with originality and panache. Musically coloring outside the lines as far as they can, is by no means unusual for RESONANCE; daring that must derive from setting examples for others is a trail that has been blazed by the forefathers of jazz history, but in RESONANCE that spirit lives on in full glory.  

The use of Davis’ genius of space, and depth, violinist Walther takes the path less worn, creating an electrifying perpendicular thrust, eliciting rushes of sound; while McQuarry’s piano effortlessly draws purpose from thin air.

An engaging tactic is envoked by Kreiger’s muscular baritone saxophone it intimates acerbic, exclamatory meaning to the musical statement, “so what!”   A stunning rendition of “So What” exhibits that rare, but superb, imagination that jazz lovers cannot get enough of.

It is clear that if pianist Steve McQuarry has a hand in anything – it swings! His statements on (Eleanor Rigby, Gemini, So What) are not without deliberate measure. There is a delightful folk-blues surprise tucked away in Laura Austin Wiley’s seductive vocal interpretation of the 1941 Alec Wilder/William Engvick/Marty Palitz popular song “Moon and Sand,” which Wiley pitches with unaffected winsome stylings with a hint of quiet verve, and artful passion, is a nice textural change among the instrumental pieces.

Introductions is the work of accomplished multi-instrumentalists able to emote musical mastery at will; offering an enlightened landscape of musical shades; and the ability to dispense with the concept of musical palette, but intent on capturing an entire rainbow, while preserving melody, harmony, and impeccable form with broad versatility devoid of bulk, desiccation, or overplaying.

Having a wide array of composers to appreciate, gains the listener a purview of a superfluity of music genres; selections such as Jimmy Heath’s best known composition “Gemini,” a Latin jazz nod in Clare Fischer’s “Gaviota,” that double bassist Ted Burik broadens with his rich, bottom-swelling swing; through the canons of Ellington, Gil Evans/Miles Davis; and an honoring of classical composer Gustav Holst’s symphony The Planets with a visit to “Jupiter”(the ‘Bringer of Jolity); and finally a departure in character from the entire date, with stark contrasts with Stanley Clarke/Chick Corea’s tribute to the immortal John Coltrane “Song To John I & II,” all together creating a sense of proportion, diversity  and listenability which is the core of Introductions.

 

Track Listing: Eleanor Rigby; Gemini; In A Sentimental Mood; Opus 1; Gaviota; Prelude/So What; Jupiter; The Journey Of Each Other; Moon And Sand; See You Next Wednesday; Song To John Part I; Song To John Part 2.

 

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