Friday, April 22, 2011

John Vanore and Abstract Truth: Contagious Words

Acoustical Concepts
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Contagious Words

Abstract Truth is a group headed by John Vanore who, in the 1970s, played trumpet and flugelhorn in one of Woody Herman’s Herds. I reviewed this group’s first release (Curiosity) several years ago, and was impressed by Vanore’s skill as both an instrumentalist and composer.

His “little big band” is unique: The brass section is huge — six trumpets/flugelhorns, two trombones and a French horn — while the reed “section” consists of just two men who play alto, tenor and soprano saxes, clarinets and flutes. They’re all joined by a rhythm section of bass, drums and guitar, rather than a piano. Three guest artists are utilized on several tracks: a pianist, another flautist and a bass trombone.

The result is a rich, and swinging “chorale,” with major emphasis on the brass section.

Vanore composed most of the music and arranged all but one of the tunes: the wonderful old standard “You Go to My Head,” handled instead by trumpeter Kevin Rodgers.

This group is definitely a concert orchestra; the music is contemporary and relatively complex, but still exciting ... and it does swing. The rich ensemble work provides a background that, from the soloists’ viewpoint, is to die for.

In general, today’s musicians are better educated than those of the past, and are more likely to search for ways to create something new, than to merely keep playing the styles that initially intrigued them. That’s all well and good, as long as the basic premise of jazz is maintained: It has to swing! Vanore, and bands like Absolute Truth, have achieved that goal.

No comments: