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Bebop Spoken There

Brian Dee: "I feel my generation had one advantage over today's players in that we were not musically educated in colleges, so we all sounded different. I could tell who it was just by the sound." - (Jazz Rag, Summer 2020).

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11,783 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 1023 of them this year alone and, so far, 50 this month (Sept. 17).

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SEPTEMBER

IT IS ADVISABLE TO CHECK IN ADVANCE WITH THE VENUE THAT THE GIG IS ON

SATURDAY

Happy Birthday Katy Trigger & Mia Webb.

SUNDAY 20

Vieux Carre Hot 4 - Spanish City, Spanish City Plaza, Whitley Bay NE26 1BG. Tel: 0191 691 7090. 12 noon. Free.

Riviera Quartet - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. 8:00pm. A limited number of seats are available which MUST be bought in advance online. £7:50 or £5:45 live stream only.

THURSDAY 24

Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free.

Maine St Jazzmen - Sunniside Social Club, Sunniside Road, Sunniside NE16 5NA. Tel: 0191 488 7347. 8:00pm - 10pm. Free. Note earlier start/finish.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

CD Review: Don Byron & Aruan Ortiz - Random Dances And (A)Tonalities

Don Byron (clarinet & tenor sax); Aruan Ortiz (piano)
(Review by Dave Brownlow)

This is a most intriguing and unusual album – the intellectual meeting of minds of the two ‘protagonists’ who are highly skilled musicians in both jazz and classical genres and whose music ranges from the blues to Ellington to free and J.S Bach to Schoenberg with everything in between. Don Byron has an ice-cold tone on clarinet reminiscent of that of John La Porta, whereas on tenor, his sound is warm and utterly his own. Aruan Ortiz on piano has the technique of a Conservatory-trained musician who has moved seamlessly within the worlds of chamber music, Jewish, soul, rock and jazz and through studies with George Russell and the influence of Tete Montoliu.

Tete’s Blues - honouring the Catalan pianist - is an atonal exploration of the time-honoured format with a completely unconventional but logical, note and chord selection aurally to challenge the listener. The ice-cool clarinet searchings are well supported by Cecil Taylor-like piano promptings.

 Black and Tan Fantasy lopes along with Byron on tenor and both Duke and Monk firmly in the minds of the duo. The two giants would have chuckled at this version and appreciated it!

 Musica Callada: Book 1, V([MM ] crochet=54) introduces us to little-known Spanish composer Federico Mompou. A thoroughly engrossing, limpid, haunting, clarinet/piano performance incorporates a beautiful melody and compelling improvisations. Is it jazz? Who knows…?

Byron’s composition Joe Btfsplk has a passing trace of Parker’s Donna Lee here and there. It’s an avant-garde musical conversation between tenor and piano throughout, swinging along in its own inimitable way. (Bird would have listened to this with interest because he loved ‘modern music’ i.e. Bartok, Hindemith etc)

Ortiz’s Numbers is more ‘Impressionist’ in conception flowing along with many ‘Debussian’ flourishes in a graceful style especially within the pianist’s playing

A piece from the late Geri Allen Dolphy’s Dance has no boundaries but bounces along challenging the players and listeners in every way.

Byron plays J.S.Bach’s Violin Partita No 1 in B minor as a captivating unaccompanied clarinet solo in a liquid manner showing he’s equally at home in this genre. No jazz here of course even though Johann Sebastian himself was a great improviser…..!

Byron’s Delphian Nuptials moves as gracefully as a stately dance with a lovely five-note figure played throughout on the clarinet as the basic structure. Tender variations and commentary figures from the piano makes this a duo delight.

Ortiz’s next original piece Arabesques of a Geometrical Rose (Spring) begins with doomy ‘Oliver Messiaen-like’ piano chords. Another atonal outing full of unusual voicings and melodic intervals where constant counter-melodies overlap and interweave makes for a thought-provoking listen.

The final track Impressions on a Golden Theme is loosely based on Benny Golson’s Along Came Betty. Discordant from the start, the duo continues its unconventional rapport together and apart, soloing and accompanying themselves sometimes simultaneously where stark musical figures and ideas emerge and subside with first Ortiz then Byron taking the lead.

This music is as far from ‘Smooth Jazz’ or ‘Easy Listening’ as you can get, not for the faint-hearted, but well worth the time, effort and patience required over many listenings to begin to get into the musical world of this extraordinary duo.
Dave B. 
Available now on Intakt CD 309/2018 from Aruan-ortiz.com



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