Ben Rosenblum w/ Curtis Lundy and Billy Hart – A Review by Fred Stal
Mezzrow in New York City – 5/21/17
Music, and more specifically, JAZZ is very much alive and well in New York. The thriving, young, and talented jazz pianist Ben Rosenblum delivered an inspired and focused performance at the intimate Mezzrow jazz club. Nestled in the famous Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City, Mezzrow provided the appropriate backdrop for up-and-coming Ben Rosenblum’s record release show. Out now on One Trick Dog records, Instead is Rosenblum’s carefully crafted and innovative solo debut.
Featuring six original compositions, Instead showcases Rosenblum, backed by his musical mentor Curtis Lundy, and the legendary jazz veteran Billy Hart. They are both featured on this impressive debut record. Their intense performance supporting Rosenblum burned with the transcendence and spontaneity that could only be jazz. Curtis Lundy has the aura of a jazz legend, and rightfully so. Having played with Betty Carter, Bobby Watson, John Hicks, Johnny Griffin, and the Steve Nelson Quintet, Lundy has quite an impressive resume. His double bass playing technique, and skills as a composer and arranger came through with precision during this performance.
Billy Hart, aged 76, played with youthful exuberance and grace the entire evening. A true legend in not just the jazz world, Hart got his start playing with Otis Redding and Sam and Dave. He also played with greats such as Wes Montgomery, Buck Hill, Shirley Horn, Joe Zaniwul, Pharoah Sanders and countless others. Hart made formidable contributions as a member of Herbie Hancock’s sextet (1969-1973), Stan Getz (1974-1977), and as a player on the funk/jazz fusion Miles Davis record On the Corner (1972). Lundy and Hart are veterans who appeared to have fresh life breathed into them supporting the rising Rosenblum. The beginning notes of the record release performance for Instead were seamless, ornate, and fluid. “Saucer Eyes” is a Randy Weston tune and served as the barn-burning opener of the show. The beautiful bossa nova “And Then It’s Gone” featured textured melodic lines by Rosenblum that is reminiscent of Bill Evans. The straight ahead jazz of “Clarisse and Walter” is an original masterpiece and featured stellar drumming by Hart and the musical interplay, space, and vernacular that can only be truly captured live.
The ephereal melancholic “Because It’s Raining” featured bass-driven groove with a romantic edge. While soothing, the music keeps you on your feet and not wanting to miss a single moment of magic. “Blur”, performed in the bop paradigm, lives up to its name and blurs the lines and limitations all too often seen in art and music. Ben Rosenblum expresses and smashes thematic sentiments in his playing, and without limitation. “Summertime”, a bonus track from the new album, closed us out in style. Raindrops from heaven poured down with style and grace from Rosenblum’s piano. As the baton is passed down from the previous generations to the new, it is evident that there is much more to come.
Ben Rosenblum online: www.benrosenblummusic.com