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Anton Schwartz' 'Radiant Blue'

Anton Schwartz’ ‘Radiant Blue’

 
Jan-Mikael’s EARS: review: Anton Schwartz’ ’Radiant Blue’
Anton Schwartz' 'Radiant Blue'

Anton Schwartz’ ‘Radiant Blue’

Evaluation:

My first impression upon getting this disc was that it was another in a loooong line of no-doubt-talented but ultimately faceless jazz ensembles paying tribute to what truly has become a hackneyed genre: the ‘blues’…

Analysis:

What I found instead reinforced the notion that marketing is everything. More on that later.

This is grade ‘A’ ‘all-killer-no-filler’… As Schwartz’ liner notes describe eloquently, these compositions are not ‘blues’, in that they don’t ascribe to the maxim that ‘blues’ denote a certain type of melancholia or other overwrought ‘gut-bucket’ responses, as is so often bandied about by aficionados, but are based loosely on the musical form blues most often relies on for it’s structure…the 12 bar form. Throughout this disc, as Schwartz warns, the parameter is stretched to allow for harmonic invention, rhythmic cohesiveness and skeletal yet sinewy compositions…

Schwartz (tenor sax), Peter Bernstein (guitar), Taylor Eigsti (piano), John Shifflet (bass) and Tim Bulkley (drums) are virtuosos, endowed with temperance, eschewing gratuity for the greater good of the music. Each has a signature timbre…guitarist Bernstein particularly manages to transcend archetypical jazz guitar stylings with aplomb…

Schwartz’ compositions are engaging and sophisticated, reminding me at times of Pat Martino (‘Slightly Off Course’) and Elevado-era Astral Project (‘Alligator Strut’, ‘Life and Times’). Influences are evident but not overbearingly so…these are truly unique ‘sum-of-the-parts-seat-of-the-pants’ musicians of the highest order…

Rating: 9-/10 (the minus is for the packaging…see the summary for closure on my oblique opening jibe and this diatribe)

Summary:

Marketing is everything. This disc should have been packaged with a grainy photo of the band members dressed in baggy cast-offs, resplendent in their lordly repose. The promo/press kit should tout this as ‘not your parents jazz’ or some similar blurb that highlights the ‘coolness’ of jazz…these guys deserve to be heard by a wider audience than the narrow-minded one controlling the playlists of formatted radio stations…

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