MP3 Rob Middleton Quartet - Dark Energy
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10 MP3 Songs in this album (60:45) !
Related styles: Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz, Jazz: Contemporary Jazz, Featuring Saxophone
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Rob Middleton-tenor, alto, soprano saxophones
Matt King-piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano
Pete MacDonald-drums, percussion
âDark Energyâ is a collection of pieces written over the course of the last several years for concerts and other performances, as well as two pieces written for this recording. They incorporate a variety of grooves, moods, and approaches to form.
The title tune âDark Energyâ is an up-tempo modal composition with a late 1960âs jazz-rock feel. The melody is made up of four phrases followed by a stop-time interlude leading to the solos, each on a different vamp. Listen for waves of explosive energy, blazing solos and intricate rhythmic interaction within the band.
âElementsâ is a medium tempo blues that is set up so that in each of three choruses of the melody, a different instrumental layer, or âelementâ is added. Energetic and swinging solos alternate between a double time, long form blues and a short blues form at the original tempo. Rob and Peteâs saxophone and drums duet sets up a roaring double time tenor solo.
âNorthern Lightsâ is an even-eighth note ECMish piece written for a concert presented during the winter. The music and title suggest a dazzling display of light in a cold night sky. Mattâs lyrical but rhythmic piano solo sets up the building energy of the saxophone solo.
âLast Minuteâ, written just before a recording session, is a sort of hip-hop tune with a contemporary jazz vocabulary in the style of Medeski, Martin, and Wood. The Fender Rhodes piano recalls the sound of 70âs R&B. Relax and enjoy the ride.
âLazy Afternoonâ is a less-well known jazz standard taken from the early 50âs show âGolden Appleâ. It is presented here as a free, meandering, out-of-tempo ballad suggestive of the magical stillness of a quiet summer afternoon in the country. The freely improved introduction in particular captures that mood, with thoughtful piano musings from Matt and beautiful percussion by Pete that recalls the sound of wind chimes and rustling leaves.
âToward the Lightâ is a jazz samba written for a Christmas Eve jazz church service. Follow that star!
âThis is Newâ is another relatively unknown jazz standard taken from the Ira Gershwin/Kurt Weill show âLady in the Darkâ. The rarely heard verse of the song is played rubato, followed by a hard-swinging up-tempo airing out of the more-familiar chorus. Mattâs crisp, high-energy piano solo and Peteâs unaccompanied drum chorus are works of art in themselves.
The last three tunes are part of Robâs âRoad to Emmaus Suiteâ. âBurning Heartsâ is a propulsive, harmonically bright jazz waltz; âOn the Roadâ an up-tempo swinger with a rather dark harmonic palette and a repetitive bass line vamp that portrays the relentlessness of a long road trip. âPostludeâ, a pensive but uplifting jazz rumba, provides a thoughtful conclusion to the suite and the CD, and features soprano saxophone and a beautiful bass solo by Dave Richards.
The musicians: I had the great pleasure to record this music with three wonderful musicians with whom Iâve been playing for many years, all accomplished veterans of the New York area jazz scene: pianist Matt King, bassist Dave Richards, and drummer Pete MacDonald. Check out these links to find out more about them:
Rob Middleton is a prize-winning composer and an active woodwind player and teacher in the New York area. He has performed in New York, around the U.S and abroad with many jazz greats, including Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Phil Woods, Harry Connick Jr., Lionel Hampton, The New York Voices, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Lovano, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Woody Shaw, Oliver Lake, David Liebman, Randy Brecker, Jane Ira Bloom, and Jim McNeely. Robâs recent recordings, both jazz and classical, include âOpen Crossingsâ, music of Andy Teirstein, âLive from New Yorkâ with the Birdland Big Band, âComposers in Collaborationâ, new music by New Jersey women composers, and âUrban Soundscapesâ with NewYorkestra, which he co-leads and writes for. Rob is also a member of the Birdland Big Band, which performs weekly at the famed Birdland Jazz Club in New York, and he is long-time member of the BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra, an ensemble dedicated to performing works created by the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. He is a former participant in that workshop and a winner of its composition prize. His compositions and arrangements are performed regularly in the New York area and have appeared in a major motion picture, âThe Thomas Crown Affairâ.
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