Ted Nash

Rhyme & Reason

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As an emerging improviser and thoroughly modern composer, Nash hits his stride with this startling recording, utilizing a double quartet of standard instrumentation and strings. Nash plays primarily tenor sax, a little clarinet and flute, with Frank Kimbrough (piano), Ben Allison (bass), and Tim Horner (drums). The rising violin star Miri Ben-Ari, second violinist Joyce Hammann, Ron Lawrence on viola, and Tomas Ulrich on cello comprise the string quartet. They create some unique sonorities, swing on a pair of tracks, and delve into some ethnic nuances. Two of the nine selections, all written by Nash, feature trumpet solos by guest Wynton Marsalis. They swing the hardest on "Sisters," with vibist Erik Charlston playing complex unison lines with the strings and Nash setting up Wynton's solo, leading into a counterpoint battle prompting Nash's tenor solo. Nash holds many qualities heard in Joe Henderson's tenor, the same type of crisp lyricism and blue overtones. "Apollo Nine" is a stunner, with shimmering strings contrary to horn/vibes melodies incorporating a tick-tock to waltz rhythmic stance. Nash's young daughters Emily and Lisa are the inspiration for this music, their childlike honesty and directness the basis for "Sisters," and their introductory vocal on "Rhyme" prompts the band into a hymn-like melody with piano reverently praying. "Longing" is the perfect title for a haunting refrain from Ben-Ari's violin, while she, Ulrich and Kimbrough gently stairstep on gossamer wings during the spooky "Free Choice." "Spirit Dance" is a tick-tock to tango pacing; "Ishtar Gate" is the other swinger in a more boppish fashion, a bit darker and dramatic, with a one note vibe phrase as the springboard for the rest of the band to leap off. The piano-tenor sax duet "Prana" has many of the same serene melodic qualities as Hoagy Carmichael's classic "Skylark," while the beautiful closing number "The Trails" has Nash on flute traipsing though oriental green fields with the strings, an organ of sheer beauty. Nash has created music that is jazz based but stretches into several different areas. It's new music in every sense, has a universal appeal, unquestioned high level musicianship, and intrigue. This is one you do not want to pass on. Highly recommended.

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