Ron Oswanski: December's Moon (2013)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
A modernist with the Hammond B-3 organ, Ron Oswanski introduces himself as leader for the first time crafting a vibrant modern jazz, almost fusion-like in texture, musical experiment on December's Moon. On tap are a host of exciting new originals as well as creative and swinging arrangements of music from trumpeter Kenny Wheeler whose "Kayak, and pianist Fred Hersch's "Evanessence," take on a new life here. On a rare note, when was the last time one heard guitarist Jimmy Page and Robert Plant's Led Zeppelin staple "The Rain Song" on any jazz album? Well Oswanski does a marvelous job interpreting the piece on the piano with a little help from the producer and saxophonist Tim Ries on soprano and jazz luminary John Abercrombie on guitar.
A huge fan of the ECM style, Oswanski draws on the experience of Abercrombiewho included the Hammond B-3 in his own ECM organ trioand performs throughout the album in various trio settings using drummers Clarence Penn and Ian Froman on different tunes, Abercrombie and Jay Azzolina sharing the guitar duties with John Patitucci manning the bass along with Reis on either soprano or tenor saxophone. The leader is also quite adept and comfortable on the piano and the accordion which he masterfully demonstrates on "Ukrania Polka."
Recruited by Maynard Ferguson for his Big Bop Nouveau Band as a teenager, Oswanski wrote and arranged the sweet ballad "Milk of the Moon" for the big band album Brass Attitude (Concord Records, 1998) and reprises the piece here featuring soft touches from Reis on soprano, Abercrombie's guitar and the leader's own B-3 voice. The swinger of the set goes to Oswanski's original "80-80-8" where the organist's furious solo is the pronounced statement of the piece. Other notable tunes worthy of much more than one sampling are "Solo Por Undia," "Sleeping Beauty" and the sharp "Standard Tile."
After collaborating with some of the finest jazz musicians and bands in the business, organist, pianist and composer Ron Oswanski breaks out on his own with December's Moon shining a little moonlight on what is truly one audacious musical endeavor that's quite impressive all around.
Track Listing: White Meadow; Solo Por Undia; December's Moon; Ukrania Polka; Mercury Retrograde; The Rain Song; Sleeping Beauty; 80-80-8; Milk of the Moon; Standard Tile; Kayak; Evanessence.
Personnel: Ron Oswanski: Hammand B-3 Organ, piano, accordian; Tim Ries: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; John Abercrombie: electric guitar (1, 5, 8, 9, 11); Jay Azzolina: accoustic guitar, electric guitar (2, 4, 6); John Patitucci: bass; Clarence Penn: drums, percussion (2-4, 6, 12); Ian Froman: drums (1, 5, 7-10).
Record Label: Palmetto Records
Style: Modern Jazz