Ben Rosenblum’s Debut Record Instead A Review by Fred Stal
Ben Rosenblum’s debut album Instead is a work that was years in the making. The young pianist has played in violinist Ben Sutin’s acclaimed jazz/klezmer group Klazz-Ma-Tazz for several years now since their inception. Rosenblum’s versatility as a musician has helped shape his unique style and this record reflects his unique training in various subgenres from hard bop to bossa nova.
The album features jazz legends Curtis Lundy (bass) and Billy Hart (drums). These two musical veterans give the appropriate versatility and mastery necessary to musically express Rosenblum’s original compositions. The album’s opener “Because It’s Raining” hearkens an emotional feel reminiscent of Miles Davis. Ben’s melodic channeling collocates symbiotically with Billy Hart’s rhythms. Following the album opener, “Clarisse and Walter” is a straight-ahead jazz celebration which directs the transcendent and eclectic fluidity of the rest of the record. Bossa nova is embraced on the following track entitled “And Then It’s Gone.” This title is true to the nostalgic yet fresh caress of the music recorded for this debut.
“Blur” gives rigor and an up-swing as a bop tune perfectly placed, and an appropriate allusion to Rosenblum’s musical training as a budding musician all leading to this point. There is always room for a ‘1-2-3′ waltz number in a jazz record, or any record for that matter, and “Far Back” satisfies the itch. “Azucar” is an equally sweet as it is inspired Afro-Cuban tune that gets the blood flowing. This music can transport a listener to another place, and is played with an authenticity and vernacular you can really feel. This record also features musical pieces by other composers. “Single Petal of a Rose” stands out as a beautiful interpretation of the late Duke Ellington. Charlie Haden’s “First Song” as well is delivered with evocative and stirring grit. The record also includes famous swing tunes: Sonny Clark’s “Nica,” Randy Weston’s “Saucer Eyes,” and Thad Jones’ “When Love Was You and Me.”
You can hear influences from Rosenblum’s training and from other projects he has been involved in throughout this record. Jazz heroes Curtis Lundy and Billy Hart add an experience and dimension that is perfectly befitting for Rosenblum’s compositions. Lundy, best known for his work in Betty Carter’s band, also has been sampled by Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” from his arrangement “Walk With Me”. Billy Hart has a long running list on his resume which includes Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Pharaoh Sanders, Wayne Shorter, Wes Montgomery, and many more. His work with Miles Davis on 1972’s “On the Corner” is appropriate as the album courses through many jazz idioms including elements of Davis’ work. Ben Rosenblum’s star continues to rise and this record pays homage to past influences while maintaining originality and in the process, claiming a new voice in modern jazz.
Ben Rosenblum at The Kitano Hotel
66 Park Avenue in New York City
Tuesday Nights in April
More info: www.benrosenblummusic.com