If many long-term, old school jazz fans are to be believed, the only thing we can – or should – do is celebrate what has come before from masters like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and (the pre-electric) Miles Davis. After all, that was when “the really great jazz” was made, and nothing new could ever measure up to those legendary recordings. If you’re of that opinion, then this ain’t your column! If you’d like to see what vibrant, exciting things are happening in the music that spawned the Freihofer Jazz Festival, then strap in and let’s light this candle!
SHANE ENDSLEY AND THE MUSIC BAND: “Then the Other” (Low Electrical Records, 2011)
Endsley is one-fifth of the miraculous neo-fusion band Kneebody, which is one of the reasons I have hope for this genre’s future. But Endsley’s also made great acoustic music with Ben Allison and Jenny Scheinmann, and “Then the Other” is Endsley’s chance to step out on the acoustic side as a leader. Fronting a tight quartet featuring keyboardist Craig Taborn, drummer Ted Poor and bassist Matt Brewer, Endsley’s music runs parallel to Kneebody’s catalog, in that it’s chock-full of intriguing twists and turns, and takes its cues from nobody else. Endsley’s trumpet is wide open, but he never tries to blow the house down, preferring to stick and move rather than throw haymakers. Taborn’s electric fans may be unhappy he left his Fender Rhodes in the garage, but his electrifying solos on “House” and “King’s County Ramble” should please anyone. That future I mentioned? “Then the Other” makes it even brighter.