By Ron Netsky
It’s no secret that some of the most vital artists in the contemporary jazz world can be found residing in Brooklyn. That’s why “A Portrait of Brooklyn” is an appropriate title for an excellent new album from Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records. The CD is full of great tracks showcasing the diverse writing and playing styles of five of the top bandleaders on the Brooklyn scene.
Strangely, the differences in these musical visions work to tie the album together. The CD begins with the relentless driving energy of trumpeter David Smith’s “Starr St.” Tenor Saxophonist Dan Pratt’s “Buttermilk Channel” keeps it going with equal energy and some fanciful melodic twists. Then comes the wonderfully weird Mingus-like “JV” by multi-reed player Adam Kolker. But that’s not the only experimental track; “The Cherry Bees” by bassist Anne Mette Iverson, is deliciously orchestral while including the oddest of harmonies.
The most beautiful cut on the album is drummer Rob Garcia’s “1898” which features an excellent trumpet solo by Smith. Listening to these musicians interpret one another’s tunes make it clear that these unique artists are more than capable of supporting all of their individual idiosyncrasies as a cohesive group.