The Long and Short of It picks up where the Denver-based saxophonist''s Extended Family (Tapestry, 2002) left off. The pianoless quartet (sax, trumpet, bass and drums) takes advantage of the looseness of the compositions to extract a maximum of improvisation. It''s not wailing, screaming and gnashing of teeth free jazz, but a more contained and ruminative set of sounds... with the occasional “out there” interlude to prove me wrong, I note, as I listen to trumpeter Ron Miles cut loose on the title tune.
This is great follow-up to last year''s Extended Family. The same mood, same attitude, with two new voices in the mix. Additionally, Matt Wilson shows off his prowess with an electric drill on “Gear Tips,” a percussive texture that suggests a whole new array of hardware store sonic possibilities.
Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz
Denver-based tenor saxophonist and composer Fred Hess has been exploring the experimental edges of jazz since his early days at the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, New York in the late 1970s. His tone is generally warm and dark, harking back to Lester Young, but he doesn''t shy away from extended techniques or from unusual textures and arrangements. Accompanied by trumpeter Ron Miles, bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Matt Wilson, Hess manages to map out what sounds like genuinely new musical territory while never letting the threads of groove and harmonic coherence unravel altogether.
Rick Anderson, All Music Guide
The Fred Hess Quartet has a winner in THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT. A fine collection of original jazz compositions by Fred Hess, this CD will attract a wide listening audience. The music is innovative and full of verve. There are nine selections on the CD. Among the songs are "Norman Says," "Skippin'' In," "From Bottom To Top," and "The Last Trance." Excellent production values. The musicians soar on this one! Highly recommended. Topnotch performances.
Lee Prosser, https://www.tradebit.com
Bridging the tenuous gap between post-bop and free-jazz, Hess and his quartet revel in the possibilities of improvisational freedom that is firmly hemmed in by structure. Hess''s tunes are written mostly in a catchy free-bop vein, with head melodies and call and response sections leading to wigged out solos and surprising tangents. Boppish swing, slow burn shuffles, ballads, dirges and even a modified blues all find their way into this mix. But these structures are merely launching pads for the ensembles'' excursions, and what an ensemble they are.
For those interested in hearing some current jazz infused with a sense of tradition, albeit one that didn''t stop in 1965, you need look no further.
Troy Collins, https://www.tradebit.com
Born in Abington, Pennsylvania, Hess grew up in New Jersey, attending Trenton State College, before moving to Colorado in 1981. He graduated with a doctorate in music composition from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1991. His early experiences include studies with saxophonist Phil Woods, a stint with bandleader Fred Waring, and composing music for the world premiere of a Sam Shepard play. As a composer, his influences encompass the contributions of the great figures in jazz history, avant-garde classical sources, as well as Anthony Braxton and the members of the AACM. He is currently Director of Composition at The Metropolitan State College of Denver.
Committed to exploring the boundaries of notated and improvised music, Fred Hess attended the Creative Music Studio, Woodstock, NY (1979), founded the Boulder Creative Music Ensemble (1982), Denver’s Creative Music Works Orchestra (1993), and was a member of drummer Ginger Baker’s DJQ.
Recording twelve CDs under his own name, Hess received Colorado’s Composition Fellowship (1986/1994), won Denver’s inaugural Hennessey Jazz Search (1991), the Jazz Composers Alliance, Julius Hemphill Award (2000), and first prize at the First International Jazz Composers Symposium (2006). Favorable articles and reviews have appeared in DownBeat, Jazziz, JazzTimes, Coda, The Wire, JazzWise, Cadence, and online jazz websites.
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