Friday, April 30, 2010

Seth Meicht's "Illumine"

February 3, 2009—If you look for releases that, for no better term, offer “pure jazz,” music devoid of gimmicks, non-musical incentives to profit, or commercial overtones, your best bet is usually the independent labels, those operations with no ties to the three or four major entertainment conglomerates that are responsible for a big chunk of the music produced for consumption today. Not to detract from what the latter do; they still can produce releases of lasting value and interest, just not much jazz. One of the independents any reader of this blog knows I cover regularly is the Cadence/CIMP/CIMPol complex of recordings, a label whose dedication to the music is lasting and indomitable.

Today’s featured recording is one that was released relatively recently. Headed by tenorist Seth Meicht, Illumine (CIMP) features a two tenor lineup of Meicht and Matt Bauder, plus bass and drums. With that format, and the playing involved, they are in the lineage that comes out of some of Elvin Jones' classic configurations, especially the two-tenor-and-rhythm outfits he lead in the late ‘60s-early ‘70s. Like those groups, Seth’s band features a steadily driving, propulsive rhythm section and free solo reign for the two horns. There the comparison ends. Meicht and company go about it all in their own way. The compositions are all the product of Mr. Meicht’s pen and they do much to set the tone and mood of what follows. They are no easy blowing heads. Each has pith, grit, and substance. The solo spots by Meicht and Bauder are contemporary in the best sense of the word—free yet rooted in the post-bop tradition. Both horns compare favorably with anyone out there doing such music today and the rhythm section drives the horizontal momentum with imagination and zeal.

If someone pressed me to recommend a single disk that demonstrates where improvisatory music resides today, I would readily mention this one as a good start. Seth Meicht deserves the recognition that I hope will be coming his way soon. Go to the Cadence site ( and find out more.

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