Tag Archives: Ted Poor

JOSH ROSEMAN UNIT — EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

ROGER MITCHELL reflects on two concerts by the Josh Roseman Unit at Wangaratta on October 29 & 30, 2011:

Josh Roseman Unit

What next? Barney McAll, Jamie Oehlers, Josh Roseman and Chris Hale

Sunday at Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival brought the opportunity to revisit and reflect, as well as to hear a moving suite performed live, and something well out of left field involving a choir and two pianos.

The day’s lesson came early, but not at the jazz mass featuring Leigh Barker’s New Sheiks. One festival soon I will make it to Holy Trinity Cathedral for that service. No, the lesson to which I refer is that no concert — especially if it involves overseas artists — should be assumed to be a carbon copy of one delivered by the same band the night before.

Of course, that can happen. Sunday ended with Linda Oh Quartet playing much the same material, albeit in slightly different order, as it had in the opening concert. That was a little disappointing and, coupled with the fact that band and audience were tired, may have contributed to an outing that lacked some pizzazz.

But for 11am Sunday, in what would usually be a tougher timeslot than the gig which closed Saturday night’s proceedings, Josh Roseman decided to add to his band’s line-up, bringing in Chris Hale on electric bass guitar and Jamie Oehlers on tenor sax.

Chris Hale

Joining the Unit: Chris Hale sits in at Wangaratta.

I’m not sure whether these two made the difference, but Sunday morning’s seemed to be the Unit’s best outing in the festival.

Not that Saturday night’s concert was at all lacklustre. There’s a lot going on in this band, but it is subtle and perhaps somewhat camouflaged by Roseman’s looseness and wit. I suspect he is closely monitoring every nuance, but doesn’t let that show. The night gig lasted almost two hours, opening with the sonically luscious and rhythmically rich Regression, then the brief and gentle layerings of Fortunato, which explored the rich trombone timbre, followed by some of The Suite — a work commissioned by SFJazz — that successively brought to mind Gest8, Ari Hoenig Quartet and Jimmy Smith as I listened with a smile on my face. Roseman, amid his banter, referred to having “an opportunity to redefine voices” and that seemed to make sense in The Suite as his input on ’bone seemed soft, warm and cuddly.

Still in Saturday’s concert, the Unit played a piece by one of Rosman’s idols, Don Drummond, entitled Thoroughfare (“Help me, Don”, Roseman said a couple of times, in a prayer of sorts), Sedate Remix — a surreal, calm piece in which we could have been in a church for a start and later somewhere out there with Sun Ra — and finally Theme, Motormouth and Swartz, named after a fictional legal firm, with some pretty special special effects from Barney McAll and Peter Apfelbaum.

Oehlers, Roseman, Hale

Fine tuning: Josh Roseman makes some in-flight adjustments.

Having revisited that concert, and realised there was a lot to it, I’d still have to say the next morning brought us something more special. It’s hard to say why, except that this had less banter and a more serious feel. After the Bob Marley tune Crazy Baldheads came Blues for Austria, a toe-tapping piece, which I loved, that opened and closed with muted horns and included great drum work by Ted Poor. The Swamp Tune again ventured into the surreal, with Oehlers allegedly playing only one note, Apfelbaum very effective on Korg and Roseman adding some tiny touches of fine tuning. Suddenly, at Roseman’s direction, drums, horns and all manner of keyboards kicked in for a rollicking finish.

The concert finished with the title track from Treats for the Nightwalker. Roseman is an intriguing individual and I look forward to seeing where he ventures in musical experimentation, along with the madcap Barney McAll. If a trombone solo recording eventuates, I’d like to hear that.

As for the moving suite performed live, and something well out of left field involving a choir and two pianos, the next post will tell all.

Note: Pictures will be added gradually.

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WHO’S ON THE WAX WHEN YOU DROP THE NEEDLE

INTERVIEW

Josh Roseman

Serious sonics: Josh Roseman (in an image from Iowa Summer of the Arts)

Ausjazz blog talks with Josh Roseman

When trombonist Josh Roseman talks music, it’s not long before the word “sonic” crops up.

Born in Boston to a Jamaican mother and Jewish father, Roseman says he was “born to synthesize” because he came from such disparate backgrounds, so that “it became part of my intellectual and aesthetic make-up to intuit different cultural streams”.

He embraced his mother’s music, but it was “not the same as growing up in Jamaica listening to reggae, but more like a treasure hunt” with “the music having heightened significance because [at home] it was the only place I could hear it”.

Roseman’s father was an amateur musician who played in a barbershop quintet and a jazz big band, sharing with his son a deep enthusiasm for music and the arts.

There were other musical influences. Roseman’s cousin Ed, who lived in the family home in his early 20s, was “writing his first symphony, building violins, transcribing Scott Joplin rags for acoustic guitar and playing them”, while Uncle Vern on his mother’s side was a blues guitarist.

Roseman describes his father’s playing of the trombone as “a mercurial sonic gift”, but he was first interested in exploring the “electric bass voice”, Steve Swallow’s sound and what to do with that instrument after Jaco Pastorius.

“I think that inquiry also informs what I’m doing now on trombone, where I’m interested in things that are a little bit below the surface sonically and you might have to root around for,” Roseman says. “As a band leader I try to create space so that some of these hidden things can bubble to the surface.”

As a young musician he saw the trombone as “a rich platform for a lot of ideas that had not been explored much” and thought it sad that the instrument was viewed as not suited for virtuosic playing as the trumpet or reed instruments.

“To me that’s like saying you can’t play note clusters on the drums — it’s kind of irrelevant,” he says on Gmail’s web phone from New York.

Roseman’s love of the instrument is evident when he is asked whether the Josh Roseman Unit will be offering the Wangaratta Jazz & Blues Festival audience something a lot different from his music on Treats for the Nightwalker, which was released before his previous visit to Australia in 2005.

“We’ll be playing a few of the same tunes, but what I’m putting forward as a player has accumulated a lot more depth sonically, a lot more dimension these days. It’s come about that the trombone has become a significant place of refuge for me now, so it’s really a pleasure to travel and set something up that people might enjoy and share in.

Josh Roseman

Heading solo: Josh Roseman (picture supplied)

“What’s important to me is my own level of sonic involvement when I have an instrument in my hands,” Roseman says. “It’s something I feel very very fortunate to do, and the evolution has made things simpler, a lot more minimalistic and more fulfilling.

“I’ve always been interested in acoustic and electronic texture, but we’re experimenting a lot more with dynamics, and juxtaposing unusual dynamic conditions with rhythm. It’s the kind of thing that can only really come about with a high degree of trust.

“The critical element is who you really want to listen to. If you have an ensemble and everybody is demonstrating a sense of support and interest in what your colleagues are doing on the bandstand there’s the opportunity for rare events to unfold.”

Roseman’s music has been described as “heavy groove jazz meets house meets ska and industrial funk”, but he has no time for labels. In fact, he happily “rebrands the ensemble almost every gig” — recently the Unit became “Slide Twombly and the Seven Seeds” — because “it’s like taking a wine you are really interested in and, if you ship it in a different crate, somehow it really forces you to use your taste buds once you uncork it”.

But behind this Roseman refusal to let our musical taste buds go stale, or the sense of humour evident in his naming of the track Olsen Twins Subpoena on his New Constellations Live in Vienna album (a psychological exploration of Jamaican ska trombonist Don Drummond’s music), is an artist on a serious mission to play host to his audience.

As he describes it, “Anybody who has hosted a party and has been surrounded by friends and has wanted to play music as a DJ just to make people feel welcome or to make people unwind or encourage them to interact on a different level will understand it’s not really about labels. It’s about sound, it’s about songs, it’s about the expression of the people who are on the wax when you drop the needle.”

Roseman says the majority of his concerts in the past year have been with his big band or solo.

“The solo concerts are one of my favourite things to do. They are totally improvised. At some point I’ll be cultivating a codified body of work for trombone.”

He says that, at Wangaratta, “I’m sure we’ll do a little bit of it. It’s a nice thing to do.”

As the Unit (or whatever name pops up) Josh Roseman will play with Barney McAll on piano and keyboards, Peter Apfelbaum on keyboards and sax, and Ted Poor on drums.

With the Australian Art Orchestra he expects to have “carve out some interesting spaces” with Paul Grabowsky and have “a wholesome if mischievous time together”.

Wangaratta Jazz Festival this weekend is set for a sonically rich party.

ROGER MITCHELL

TIME TO BONE UP ON WANGARATTA JAZZ 2011

PREVIEW

Wangaratta Jazz & Blues 2011

Launched: Wangaratta Jazz & Blues festival 2011

Well, Wangaratta Jazz & Blues is being launched tonight in Wangaratta, but Ausjazz can bring you the bones of the program as artistic director Adrian Jackson is telling the event’s home town denizens what’s in store.

As predicted by Ausjazz blog, American trombonist Josh Roseman is the headline international artist, performing in two concerts with New York band members Australian expatriate pianist Barney McAll, drummer Ted Poor and multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum on tenor sax, keyboard and percussion. The Josh Roseman Unit has explored “progressive funk, electro and jazz”, and the composer has been described as having “vision” and someone who “plays ideas”.

At a media briefing, Jackson revealed that Australian pianist, composer and festival director Paul Grabowsky heard Roseman in New York last year and said he’d like to do something with the young trombonist/composer and the Australian Art Orchestra. That will happen, with Roseman bringing some of his compositions for a 14-piece AAO to explore.

Leak on Josh Roseman

Breaking news: How Ausjazz spilled the beans in the first Wangileak.

As well, Barney McAll will unveil a new suite in a premiere performance with two pianos (B. McAll and Andrea Keller), vibraphone and a 16-voice choir led by Gian Slater, who Melburnians will recall for her brilliant commission concert at BMW Edge for the Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival. This should be a real highlight.

Apfelbaum will also perform a solo piano concert.

Ready to duo: Linda Oh will team with Gian Slater

Keeping the expatriate spirit going, Malaysian-born bassist Linda Oh, who grew up in Perth and has since moved to New York, will bring a quartet to Wangaratta to celebrate the launch of her second album. Her line-up has Fabian Almazan on piano, but differs from that on the album, with Sam Sadigursky on tenor sax and Kendrick Scott on drums. Linda Oh featured in April’s DownBeat magazine.

Another expatriate, pianist composer Walter Lampe, will travel from Amsterdam — his home of 20 years — to perform in a trio. I believe Lampe was in Sydney early this year, playing at 505 with Sydney bassist Jonathan Zwartz and former Melburnian, drummer Danny Fischer, but the line-up for Wangaratta will be Zwartz and James Hauptmann on drums.

Linda Oh & Gian Slater

Bright idea: Gian Slater joins Linda Oh in the duet at Bennetts Lane.

In a demonstration of just how good Adrian Jackson is at picking up on interesting new combinations, Oh will perform with Gian Slater in a concert of duets for bass and vocals. Jackson had the idea when he heard them together at Bennetts Lane during a recent concert with another expatriate, saxophonist Jacam Manricks.

Cuban pianist Almazan, now living in America, has toured the US, South America, Asia and Europe with Terence Blanchard and will come to Wangaratta direct from the release of his first album at the Village Vanguard. Almazan will play with Linda Oh on bass and Rodney Kendrick on drums.

Denis Colin (bass clarinet) from France and Adam Simmons (saxophones etc.) from Australia will join Benjamin Moussay on keyboards and Chander Sardjoe on drums to celebrate their collaboration as La Societe des Antipodes.

Headline artist for the blues marquee will be American singer/guitarist Jimmy D Lane, son of Chicago blues great Jimmy Rogers (it’s a stage name). Adrian Jackson said Jimmy D., who grew up with Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf as regular guests in his house, and listening to Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, is making his first visit to Australia.

Others on the blues stage will include the consistently and quietly brilliant Collard Greens & Gravy, Jim Conway’s Big Wheel and Blue Heat. But a blues gig bound to be a huge hit will be saxophonist Paul Williamson’s Hammond Blues Revue, in which Williamson’s usual Hammond Combo line-up will be joined by guests Chris Wilson, Shannon Bourne, vocalist Ella Thompson (who sang at Wangaratta when she was 15) and James Black. Thompson has emerged through the Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society’s Youth in Blues program, which helps young artists.

Luckily for anyone who has heard Paul Williamson’s Hammond Combo at Stonnington Jazz (or the Rainbow Hotel), with brilliant Hammond B3 organist Tim Neal and drummer Mike Jordan, the combo will also play a concert in the jazz program. Don’t confuse this with trumpeter Paul Williamson‘s Inside Out (with Marc Hannaford on piano, Sam Zerna on double bass and James McLean on drums), which will be very different. Both gigs are sure to be hits.

Sandy Evans

Highlight: James Greening's 'bone frames Sandy Evans at Stonnington Jazz 2011

A later post will cover other festival highlights, such as a new Sandy Evans suite and her duets with Paul Grabowsky, what Allan Browne will get up to with Elliott Dalgleish, and who’s going to judge the National Jazz Awards.

ROGER MITCHELL