Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Nick Maclean Quartet - Rites of Ascension...paying tribute to Herbie Hancock

This contemplative and often thrilling quartet's explorations of modern, original repertoire is led by a fast-rising star in Toronto's jazz piano community -- 26-year-old Nick Maclean. Formed in 2016, Maclean's foursome delivers jazz between the two poles of thoughtful introspection and powerhouse conveyance, taking influences from Herbie Hancock's primordial 1960's Blue Note era recordings featuring Freddie Hubbard, while simultaneously paying apt tribute to some of the greatest improvisers in jazz history. 

The quartet's debut 11-track full-length album "Rites Of Ascension" features 6 Maclean-penned originals, 1 composition by Brownman and 4 re-imagined Herbie Hancock classics. The group is frequently lauded for the strength of their collective improvisatory vision and highlights Maclean’s ruminative piano prowess and handpicked sidemen. Brooklyn / Toronto based Brownman Ali, one of Canada's most provocative improvising trumpet-playing iconoclasts, stands shoulder to shoulder with Maclean himself & two of Toronto's top-tier rhythm section 20-somethings: Jesse Dietschi on bass and Tyler Goertzen on drums. This recording was produced by Brownman Ali for release on the Browntasauras Records label, now widely regarded as a vanguard for new and visionary talent in the evolution of Jazz in Canada, and exemplifies Maclean's quartet in full flight.

Official website:

Born in Ottawa, Nick Maclean is “one of the most gifted young Toronto pianists to come along in the last few years” (Adrean Farrugia, Juno winning jazz pianist) and has quickly become one of the most in-demand 20-something piano players in that city’s bustling jazz scene. Nick received his Bachelors of Music from Humber College in 2013, having studied with David Restivo, Bernie Senensky and Nancy Walker. He then went on to do a Masters in Jazz Performance at the University of Toronto researching synthesizer pedagogy while studying under David Occhipinti, Andrew Downing, Chris Donnelly and David Braid. Braid, in particular, had an enormous influence on how Maclean approaches playing and composing. From Miles & Hancock to Weather Report & Snarky Puppy, Maclean’s musical influences are diverse.  Aside from the Nick Maclean Quartet, Maclean also leads the award-winning, groove-based, electric-jazz project Snaggle, whose latest release The Long Slog was awarded a 2016 Gold-Standard Global Music Award, a 2017 Toronto Independent Music Award and has received international critical acclaim.  The future is bright for this young visionary as he continues his upward ascent in jazz art forms of all shapes and sizes.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Ernesto Cervini's sextet Turboprop new release "REV"..cross-border jazz collaboration

Ernesto Cervini and his sextet Turboprop have released their much anticipated sophomore album, Rev on ANZIC Records.  Following the critical and popular success of their eponymous debut, Rev will continue to cement their reputation as one of the top cross-border jazz collaborations.  The band features top jazz musicians from two of North America’s most vibrant jazz cities:  Tara Davidson on Alto and Soprano Saxophones (Toronto), Joel Frahm on Tenor Saxophone (New York), William Carn on Trombone (Toronto), Adrean Farrugia on Piano (Toronto), Dan Loomis on Bass (New York) and Ernesto Cervini on Drums (Toronto).

Turboprop has already toured Canada multiple times, and they have thrilled audiences from coast to coast; 

“Turboprop demonstrates a wide range of stylistic personas, extending from elegantly crafted orchestrations that make the most out of the presence of three horns to rhythmically crafty outings that catapult the horns into cacophonous crescendos. Cervini's programming was audience-pleasing from beginning to end. The performance was an audacious adventure and fittingly symbolized the fresh outlook and virtuosic musicianship Turboprop is becoming noted for.” Mark Holston – Live Review in All About Jazz 

As Cervini states, “although I am the band-leader, Turboprop truly feels like a collective due to the passion, commitment and love everybody brings to each performance.”  This passion and commitment is front and centre on Rev as each member of the band is given an opportunity to shine, and they all deliver poignant and memorable musical moments.  

Highlights from Rev include Granada Bus, a propulsive a rhythmic piece composed by Cervini.  Inspired by real life, it mimics the dynamic energy of a Spanish bus stop.  The title-track is a rip-roaring affair which features Cervini alone with the horn section.  It was conceived while Cervini was on a walk in Toronto, and is inspired by the busy sounds of Toronto traffic.  

Cervini also features the compositional talents of three of his band mates.  The album opens with The Libertine by Adrean Farrugia.   The song features strong solo moments by Cervini (to open the piece), Farrugia and Frahm, who solos over a raucous groove laid down by the rhythm section.  Dan Loomis pens Ranthem, and anthemic and fun romp, and William Carn contributes Arc of Instability, an epic journey inspired by the American political system that is well worth it’s 9 minutes for the swinging shuffle at the end.

Lastly, the album features three “covers”; Pennies from Heaven, dedicated to Cervini’s 1 year-old daughter, Penelope; No Rain, a great 1990’s hit from Blind Melon; and The Daily Mail, a “b-side” by Radiohead which features a wonderful solo bass intro by Loomis.  

More on Ernesto Cervini: Drummer-composer Ernesto Cervini is making a name for himself as a consummate bandleader and in-demand collaborator, praised for his deep musicality and infectious energy. Downbeat described his fluid style as one that “exemplifies ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’.” Modern Drummer said: “Cervini recalls such old-schoolers as Art Blakey and Billy Higgins… It’s his robust, magnetic personality that fascinates consistently.” After releasing three quartet discs, Cervini made his latest venture a sextet album, with Turboprop released by Anzic Records in 2015. The Ottawa Citizen said: “With his fourth disc, Cervini has strikingly raised his game... With its fetching writing for horns, palpable sense of team spirit, highly focused solos and varied emotional depths, Turboprop is full of jazz pleasures.”