Wednesday, March 11, 2009

RYAN'S BIG BASS

Ryan-

You made an excellent trio jazz album. I received "Triosphere" last Friday, and I was smitten after the first listen. I lost track of the number of times I’ve listened to your album. You deserve high marks for the professional way you packaged the album; your decision to only use original material; and recruiting pianist Mike Jellick and drummer Nate Winn, budding stars on the Detroit jazz scene that helped you make “Triosphere" worthwhile.

“Triosphere” happened to be the finest trio jazz album I’ve experience since hearing drummer Roy Haynes trio date “We Three”. I found the album in the used record bin several years ago at Car City Records. I was elated as if I won the lottery. I had the same feeling of elation after I listened to your work.

You kept the album lean only offering eight original compositions. I’m glad you chose not to cram your debut with standard compositions. Your material whetted my appetite, and I wished you had included at least four bonus tracks. Leaving your listeners wanting more is the universal sign of a good bandleader.

Allow me to return to Haynes’ “We Three” for a moment. On that date, pianist Phineas Newborn Jr. and bassist Paul Chambers handled all the sideman duties. I heard elements of Chambers’ voice when you soloed. You made that huge instrument purr. On “J.J.” and “No Song”, the leadoff selections on “Triosphere”, you pushed Jellick and Winn into the spotlight. What an unselfish act. If a test audience has listened to the album before you released it, and were ask to identify the leader of the session, most would’ve picked Jellick, who made his presence felt. You refused to overshadow Winn and Jellick or regulate them to just timekeeping. You divvied up the solo responsibilities.

Winn's, soft and tasteful licks beg comparison to the quintessential drummer Bert Myrick and the chief session drummer during Blue Note Record's golden years Joe Chambers. Winn probably honed his drummer voice playing in a variety of small bands and backing vocalists. The youngster doesn’t have a flashy or ostentatious bone in his body. If forced to name my favorite player on “Triosphere”, it would be Mike Jellick.

In the past, I criticized Jellick. In 2206, I heard backing a vocalist and playing in small bands. I disliked his solos back then. He got tango, and seemed unsure of himself. On this album, however, Jellick proved he's grown considerably. He was confident. He played as if he spent months locked away woodshedding, I knew he'd eventually become a good pianist. My initial impressive of Jellick's competence no longer apply. I adored every solo Jellick took on “Triosphere” particularly on “You Said So” and “Final Decision”.

In fact, Ryan, Jellick swung like the captain of the album. You seemed unfazed. Clearly, your goal was to make a quality jazz trio album, and you succeeded big time. You were a professional on every conceivable level, and I appreciated how quickly you spent me a copy of the album after I agreed to spend time with it. The press kit was attractive. Those details may seem insignificant to some, but it proved you're serious a composer, a musician, and a bandleader.

-Charles
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