Right out of the gate, the Monk-esque melody of the opening track, “Hubub” gets your attention. The rhythm section is poppin’ and swingin’ with truly great solos!
“Wandelen” is a beautiful gospel tune that gives all the players a lot of room to testify. “Sparkplug – She Came to Play” starts with some truly virtuosic solo piano maneuvers by Ted. The track seems entirely improvised – that is, until after all the solos are done. It is then you hear the wizardry of Ted Kooshian’s arranging… “Schiermonnikoog” starts with a compelling drum solo, followed by an intriguing blues head arranged brilliantly for the two… “Tornetto” is an up-tempo swinger that reminds one of the freer stuff that the Miles Davis Quintet… “Hymn For Her” is a beautiful ballad with lovely lyrics by Judy Barnett. “Desert Island Tracks” is the album’s sole Latin piece. The rhythm section is totally in the groove. The introduction to “Space Train” increases in speed as Greg plays his brushes on the snare under an interesting two-part horn melody, evoking an image of a train speeding down the rails. “McQueen” is one of the most angular pieces on this album. The interplay between the bass/ electric piano line and the violin/sax melody is truly mesmerizing. And finally, “Shatner” is in 5/4 and is comprised of a gorgeous set of chord changes and a flowing unison melody. The synth solo uses a sound patch seemingly right out of the Star Trek theme song. Brilliant!
Ted Kooshian – piano
John Bailey – trumpet (flugelhorn on Somewhere)
Jeff Lederer – tenor saxophone
Dick Sarpola – bass (electric bass on McQueen and Shatner)
Greg Joseph – drums
Jim Mola – vocal on Hymn For Her; Katie Jacoby – violin on Hymn For Her and McQueen; Summer Boggess – cello on Hymn For Her; David Silliman – percussion on McQueen and Shatner
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT THE HUBUB! IS ALL ABOUT: FUN
I just returned from the 2022 Monerey Jazz Festival, and as you can guess the players were magnificent. Not so the compositions, though. Highly experimental is great; after all, that’s what makes jazz, well, jazz. But much of the weekend was fusion, ya know jazz harmony and improvisation with rock music, funk, and rhythm, but so repetitive and melodically abstruse. When vocalist Samara Joy hit the stage, the 22-year-old had throngs magnetized to the stage with appealing tunes, charm and downright fun.
I mention this because I just took pianist-composer Ted Kooshian‘s fifth album, Hubub! for a spin, and felt uplifted for all eleven tracks. Available October 7, 2022 via Summit Records, the album features Kooshian with trumpeter John Bailey, saxophonist Jeff Lederer, bassist Dick Sarpola and drummer Greg Joseph. It’s his first album of mainly original music since his acclaimed 2004 debut…
Normally, along with original compositions, Kooshian takes themes from his past and puts them the sausage grinder of his polychromatic soul, coming up with flavorful arrangements with his combo. And the results are always delightful. Here, we get one standard (a bouncy arrangement of Bernstein’s “Somewhere” from West Side Story) along with an all-original collection: interpretations of a few memorable characters (the funky “McQueen” is a tribute to the action star; the spacy “Shatner” is an ode to the star of his favorite show, the original Star Trek — both feature percussionist David Silliman); “Tornetto” — a portmanteau of “tornado” and “Ornette” — is definitely a whirlwind tribute to the great originator, played with kickin’ enthusiasm by saxophonist Lederer; the dreamy song “Hymn for Her” (co-written by Kooshian and Judy Barnett) features the dreamy 40s-style vocals of Jim Mola (and for this track, we get guests Katie Jacoby on violin and Summer Boggess on cello); and more. I’ll say it again: Appealing, inventive tunes and downright fun. What more could you ask?
-Stage and Cinema
Pianist Ted Kooshian swings hard and joyfully with a core mainstream team of John Bailey/tp=fh, Jeff Lederer/ts, Dick Sarpola/b and Greg Joseph/dr. The tenor/trumpet from line is right from the Blue Note School of hard bop, with Bailey’s warm horn gliding over the tide of the title tune, while his flugelhorn is fluffy on the autumnal “Somewhere”. Lederer has big and beefy tone, having a hoot of a time around Kooshian’s clever chords on the kinetically Monkish “Sparkplug-She Came To Play” and getting down over the military riff laid down by Joseph on “Schiermonnikoog”. Kooshian shows rich ideas on the pen, plugging in on a funkified Bullitt-themed “McQueen” and going to where no man has gone before in an intergalactic “Shatner”, while the rhythm team takes a Caribbean cruise on “Desert Island Tracks”. Rich textures are proved by a string section and Jim Mola’s voice on a lovely “Hymn For Her”, with other delicate ideas hovering on “Space Train”. A modern jazz messenger.