This debut album by Steve Hudson (piano) and Jody Redhage (cello), Zack Brock (violin), and Martin Urbach (percussion) will tickle the fancy and delight. It’s not the jazz I’m used to listening to [see Tomasz Stanko Quartet] but it’s an imaginative and joyful romp through a lovely mélange of instrumentation. Catch them on their next trip to Baltimore when you can hear them live. These Brooklyn-dwellers would, I think, eagerly pop in at Metro Gallery for a gig, as well as return to the fantastic An Die Musik.
While I see this album as being the pale-moon reflection of the splendid sun of their performance in An Die Musik’s premiere acoustic wonder-room, I do think it’s a worthy one to add to your collection. Even the musicians were excited by the possibilities that An Die Musik offered to their sound – that’s why they’ll come back.
This is venturesome yet affable jazz at its best: A little blue-glass, a little rock and roll, a little scat, a turn at tango. How does Galactic Diamonds offer such a genre-blending sound? Try the diversity of the players.
Consider Zack’s quote from a Strings mag interview: “I never drink wine before I play. But a sip of whiskey works. It’s the Kentucky in me.” I tell you he poured out this “Kentucky” from himself on Wanderin’ – you’d swear you were on a front porch drinking bourbon nice and slow and neat.
Zack Brock, hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “the great bright hope for jazz violin” does deliver. He and Jody have splendid onstage chemistry you demand of the best in trio musicians. And they add another element sometimes missing: sheer joy.
Then you have percussionist Martin Urbach who does most of his wonders on the cajón. That’s a box drum like you see in Flamenco and South American music. No surprise here, Mr. Urbach is tapping his Peruvian roots. He also isn’t above playing a stainless steel Nalgene bottle with water in it. This is in the same piece where Steve Hudson ditches piano for the charm of the melodica. No, despite his apologies to the contrary, he does not lose “cool points” with this reviewer for trotting out the blow-organ.
We’ve already touched on some of Jody Redhage’s strong points here. She’s glorious and giddy here. She’s spot-on responsive to all the ensemble’s playing. She’s better than when we heard her last year. Her vocals have grown stronger, deepening with added control and better projection. Since you missed her with Steve Hudson, don’t miss her Fire in July tour: June 26 at An Die Musik.
Above all, Steve Hudson’s piano playing makes you think he’s “keeping it simple” while offering a treat of rhythmic tensions and light melodies. Think effervescent, lively music that brightens the day. This album can be like a whippet in your stable: a fast-paced pick-me-up.
Regarding the track “PG” you’ll wish you could see the movie that would use it as an opening scene’s soundtrack. My favorite tracks are “Mingus Moon” and “Tune With Tango.”
“Tune for Tango” is also one of their live performance winners where it shines with a real snap: Caterwauling-turns-sensuous strings, handslaps, cheekslaps even castanets. Urbach even slams the whole cajón on the floor for extra punctuation.
These skilled players are the opposite of pretension. After the show, we knocked back a beer and talked Skid Row and Butthole Surfers. Capital folk. Let’s welcome them back soon.
If you like: Time for Three, you’ll like Steve Hudson Chamber Ensemble.
Where/when to listen: Play Galactic Diamonds during a long leisurely brunch on a Sunday morning. This festival atmosphere is best for daytime. Try it on a car trip in the country. Or play it on a late afternoon when you’re in need of a smile.
How to buy: go to http://wwww.cdbaby.com/cd/shce
[Author’s note: Don’t forget Jody Redhage and Fire in July play An Die Musik on June 26. Two sets: 8 pm and 9:30 pm.]
Label: Groovaholic Music
Releaste date: Jun 11 2010
- Tune with Tango
- Keep It Simple
- Speak Out
- Song For John Lennon
- Galactic Diamonds
- Moving On
- Funky Hobbit
- Mingus Moon