Thursday, September 2, 2010

Matt Vashlishan: No Such Thing

Origin Arts
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 9.2.10
Buy CD: No Such Thing

This is the debut album for Miami-based reedman/composer/arranger Matt Vashlishan.

It's a perfect example of what we get when a talented teenager is taken under the wing of an older musician (David Liebman) who has made his name in the profession, then attends a prestigious music college (The Eastman School).

Vashlishan composed seven of these tracks and arranged all of them. Even the standards could be considered “originals,” in that the melodic lines, meters and keys have been modified. The album's liner notes explain that some were either contracts or school assignments that had associated deadlines.

The result is highly “arranged”' but, for the most part, is very pleasant jazz.

Vashlishan plays alto and tenor saxes and flute, and is backed by Liebman on soprano and tenor sax; they're joined by guitarist Vic Juris, bassist Tony Marino and drummer Michael Stephans.

The covers are particularly interesting. “Lennie's Place,” a tribute to pianist Lennie Tristano, uses the chord changes from “On Green Dolphin Street,” while “Pieces” is based on the chord changes from “All the Things You Are,” but written in 5/4 time. “Alone Together” has been radically modified and, at times, is almost too modernized.

Even Joe Henderson's composition, “Inner Urge,” written for tenor sax, is revised for an alto sax range.

At times, one gets the feeling that some of these modifications have been made solely for the sake of change, but the quality of the results holds our attention.

I look forward to more from Vashlishan.

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