15 January 2012

Review: Evan Cobb – Falling Up

There is this old joke that goes like this: One musician asks another, “Do you read music?”  The other replies, “Not enough to hurt my playing.”
With a master’s degree in Jazz studies Evan Cobb lays this old adage to rest. Not only is he well educated in Jazz he also teaches college.  On this album Falling Up professor Cobb schools us in the subject of how to make a great Jazz CD.

Evan Cobb leads the monthly jam sessions at the Nashville Jazz Workshop and many of these songs were born from his preparations for that.

There is a great lineup of musicians on this album: Matt White (trumpet), Bruce Dudley (piano), Jonathan Wires (bass), Joshua Hunt (drums) & special guest Jeff Coffin (tenor saxophone). 

My favorite track on Falling Up is “Tip Tap Toe”. It starts with a nice piano roll into some Bossa Nova style  comping, in come the drums and the upright bass walking all over the planet. After the mood is laid out, the sax and trumpet duet begins. They play some catchy riffs in harmony and then branch off into some amazing solos.  First sax, then piano, trumpet, bass and then back into the main riff and clean finish.

“Eastern Bell Feel” has a great start with sparse cymbal, upright bass and left hand piano in half time. The trumpet and sax come in playing a lick that I would hesitate to call melodic and yet, it is in its own outside way. The piece kicks into full tempo and sounds like your traditional Jazz song with walking bass and catchy melody. The piece switches in and out of the two styles with various solos over the top, ending with quick stabs by the rhythm section, littered with sax and trumpet runs in-between and finally a drum roll and a crash cymbal to end.

I won’t question a college professor’s misspelling of “modernism”; because “Mahdernism” seems to be the way you spell exquisite in Jazz speak. This number starts with a tenor sax/baritone sax duet followed by some great piano doubled by the bass. It sounds like the perfect back drop to a spy movie. Cobb mixes it up a bit and then starts the solos. First we hear from the piano which is a pretty straight forward bebop style solo, followed by tenor sax, baritone sax, then the tenor and baritone trade of riffs, and then start playing over each other. Madness ensues when the trumpet decides to weigh in to the already cacophonous fight between the baritone and tenor saxophones. The horns hit their peak, trail off and then things get really quiet with an upright bass solo. The drummer plays behind him quietly hitting rim shots and cymbals.  All the instruments come back in to play the original theme, change it up a few times and end with a nice sting.

Falling Up
combines classic bebop style Jazz with more modern Avant Garde style solos. The tone that Cobb’s get with his sax is very rich and soothing. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes Be-bop style Jazz.

4.5/5 Stars
Key Tracks: Tip Tap Toe, Eastern Bell Feel, Mahdernism

Kirk Bullough

1. Tip Tap Toe
2. None.Half.All
3. Eastern Bell Feel
4. The Cosmonaut
5. In Ran Roy
6. Mahdernism
7. Crescent City Ditty
8. Don't Hold Your Breath


Artists: Evan Cobb
Title: Falling Up
Label: CDBY
Website: http://www.evancobbjazz.com

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