Blog# 34 Reviews:
I've been pretty busy the past few weeks, preparing and playing some gigs. Had a fun Show at Solo Kitchen Bar in Brooklyn playing with my old band(from the CD) and a great show in Philly with local musicians Lucas Brown and Justin Leigh. Didn't have a chance to write a new blog so I thought I'd share some new reviews of my album:
Nicholas F Mondello, AllAboutJazz.com wrote:
"In what might be the most perfectly titled CD of recent memory, Connections is a fine effort by talented trumpeter/ composer Jon Crowley and his exciting group. While Crowley might not be a household name just yet, this release announces, anoints and validates him as a fine jazz performer, writer and leader.
What Crowley writes and plays connects solidly throughout with ten selections that seem to resonate with each other somewhat texturally, if not intellectually. There's a sort of Moebius-like feel that connects each tune; however, each is highly original and stands on its own. Vaguely reminiscent of the classic tunes from the small group jazz canon, Connections reflects the past yet peeks into Crowley's own talented future.
Backed here by a set of great musicians, it is obvious that this group is a tight unit. Outstanding alto saxophonist John Beaty seems to be the perfect musical foil for Crowley's solo efforts with an intelligent and surprisingly inventive style with great energy on "Right Now." The rhythm section of bassist Peter Schwebs and drummer Nick Anderson, along with keyboardist Yayoi Ikawa, are marvelous as they provide the perfect platform for the frontline. Their harmonic and rhythmic subtleties shine with repeated listens.
The compositions range from the rhythmically complex ("Connections," "Tabula Rasa," and "Vista") to haunting, beautifully balladry ("Momentum," "Ambrosia," and "Icarus") and white-hot straight-ahead ("Right Now").
As a trumpeter, Crowley exhibits maturity and a marvelously warm sound. His approach to the instrument is solid, controlled, and highly lyrical. While there are the usual—and easily recognizable—"suspects" lurking within (shades of Tom Harrell, John Swana, Freddie Hubbard), Crowley piques interest with a creative approach. This is one smart trumpeter and composer: he knows where his roots are and how to develop a unique style nourished and energized by and connected to those roots.
Connections is an enjoyable effort by a terrific young talent and his crew. It indeed connects on many levels— all of them superbly.
Bruce Lindsay, AllAboutJazz.com wrote:
On the evidence of its debut, Connections, the New York-based Jon Crowley Quintet has huge potential. The ten tracks, all composed by leader and trumpeter Crowley, are immediately accessible but have sufficient depth and complexity to reward repeated listening. The band's technical ability is uniformly strong, but technique never takes precedence over an emotional connection with the music—the result is a mature and thoughtful album that belies the youth and relative inexperience of the musicians.
Although Crowley is the group's leader and composer, as well as the album's producer, he by no means overwhelms the other players. Indeed, he doesn't take a solo on the opening tune, the post-bop style "Connections," giving the album's first solo spot to alto saxophonist John Beaty and the second to pianist Yayoi Ikawa. Crowley's first solo appears on the beautiful "Momentum," which opens with Crowley and Beaty playing contrasting but complementary melodies, before Crowley takes the spotlight with a warm and lyrical performance.
"Bass Intro," as the title suggests, is a brief track consisting of a bass solo from Peter Schwebs which moves seamlessly into "Tabula Rasa," on which Crowley's solo and Nick Anderson's drums in particular suggest Middle Eastern influences. By contrast, "Vista" is a brighter, more upbeat tune that opens strongly with a funky, Horace Silver-ish melody. Beaty and Crowley then trade phrases—for slightly too long—before Ikawa's bright and delicate piano solo. The most up-tempo tune on the CD, "Right Now," has the drive and immediacy suggested by its title and features a tight, precise solo from Beaty. This suddenly cuts to Anderson's inventive drum solo before the ensemble returns for the tune's closing bars.
Sound quality on the album is outstanding—there is a brightness to the recording that enables all of the instruments to be heard clearly and distinctly. In fact, from the packaging to the mastering this is an impressive debut. Crowley's strong compositions coupled with the musical talents of all five band members make Connections a first album to be proud of.
Tim Niland, Jazzandblues.blogspot..com wrote:
Continuing the great track record of jazz musicians from Philadelphia, trumpet and flugelhorn player Jon Crowley has moved on to New York, earning his stripes with a wide variety of musicians. His debut album album has the feel and passion of a Blue Note date from the mid 60’s, but is still modern and fresh, not time worn in any way. Crowley is joined by John Beaty on alto saxophone, Yayoi Ikawa on piano, Peter Schwebs on bass and Nick Anderson on drums. “Connections” opens the album with an uptempo, ear-catching melody then a strong fluid saxophone solo backed by propulsive piano trio. The music becomes very exciting as Ikawa’s piano has a full bodied sound, Tyner-ish in its inflections. Crowley’s trumpet takes things out with strong clarion melodic statement. “Momentum” has a mid tempo yearning melody, then a supple and patient trumpet solo. A spare piano interlude opens like a gentle rain shower. After a spacious bass opening, “Tabula Rasa” has spare haunted trumpet and lonely saxophone intertwining, before the rest of the group falls in. The pace picks up behind some strong trumpet soloing in front of the piano trio. Schwebs’ strong elastic bass keeps everything well grounded. “Vista” has mid tempo trumpet and saxophone trading ideas, then picking up speed like a couple of trapeze artists before proceeding to exciting full band collective improv, and then slowing down with nice piano trio interlude. “Ambrosia” is a ballad with Crowley getting a rich and lush tone from his instrument. “Icarus” has mid tempo trumpet and saxophone collaborating for a nice round patient sound, before making way for a punchy trumpet solo. “Right Now” is a strong fast uptempo performance centering around a wicked hot saxophone solo, spiraling notes a focused beam, and a strong deeply rhythmic drum solo. “City Mood” slows things to a medium tempo, with strong yearning saxophone, Beaty is really pushing hard, occasionally overblown, echoing the most exploratory playing of Kenny Garrett. The musicians come to a strong collective finish. “Decision” opens in a spare and thoughtful fashion, and then picks up to mid tempo with nice searching saxophone solo. Round sounding trumpet, mid fast controlled a supple bass solo finish things off. This was an excellent example of music being made by young musicians on the New York scene. Talented performers drawing for a variety of inspirations making wonderful sounds.