Next, what type of music is it?
Cory Wright has conquered musical space. It’s incontrovertable, as the old Castro Convertible ad jingle used to have it (if anybody remembers that). He’s done it especially with his album Apples + Oranges (SingleSpeed Music 012).
What we have on this set is a freely propulsive outing by the Cory Wright Outfit, which has Cory on tenor sax and b-flat clarinet, Evan Francis on alto sax and flute. Rob Ewing on trombone, Lisa Mezzacappa on contrabass and Jordan Glenn, drums.
This is freebop at times, other times free new music that swings brightly, a collective froth well-structured and well-played by all involved. Cory writes some excellent charts here and the band comes through with fire and individual sounds that blend wonderfully well. Continue reading “Apples + Oranges at Gapplegate”
Wright’s group starts out in familiar surroundings but by the end of Apples and Oranges, they’re planted firmly in their own unique territory. The same can be said for several of the compositions and the multiple sections they contain. They get further leverage from the horn-heavy lineup of Wright (tenor saxophone, b-flat clarinet), Evan Francis (alto sax, flute), Rob Ewing (trombone) who are joined by Lisa Mezzacappa (bass) and Jordan Glenn (drums).
“Freddie Awaits the Sleepers” has a stop-time melody that emphasizes the off beats. The band plays changes during Ewing’s solo, while he cuts his own melodic path with plenty of energy. The saxes each take their own solo and keep the mood going. Ewing later gets in a spirited chase with Wright (now on clarinet) and Francis (flute) in “Low Impact Critter,” which begins with both reeds playing rapid eighth notes in unison. The same two reeds add a rich texture to “The Sea and Space.” It begins like a ballad showcase for Ewing but by the end, the group locks into an arty vamp for an alto solo that has a dirty funk tone when Francis starts blowing.
“Whaticism” also packs a lot of ideas into a seven-minute track. In the spirit of mid-’60s post-bop (reminds these ears of the between-free-and-structured work of perhaps Grachan Moncur III and Andrew Hill) everyone gets room for a brief, concise solo, including a twisted line from Francis. “Eyedrop,” the longest track at 11 minutes, slowly evolves from muttering horns to a slow riff in 3/4 where the clarinet whine is answered by the other horns. Wright leaves his mark here both in a solo and in what he’s written. The West Coast players make an impact that can be compared to Shelton’s Fast Citizen comrades in Chicago, so this album will hopefully get into the hands of more eager listeners.
Oakland, California based reedman Cory Wright (Anthony Braxton, Vinny Golia & Yusef Lateef delivers a manifold and juxtaposing ensemble date on Apples + Oranges. It doesn’t take too long to determine that the album poses a surfeit of diagonally opposed viewpoints. Other than the highly emphatic and synergistic group-centric output, Wright’s compositions hit the mark, and this is one of those very special endeavors that excites, entertains and sustains interest.
Wright’s involvement with visionary composer and improviser, Anthony Braxton seems to have assimilated into some of these pieces. However, the band’s buoyant mode of operation is coupled with a feisty disposition. They execute highly charged free- bop, featuring whirling sax choruses by Wright and Evan Francis while flirting with the chamber-jazz element during “Low Impact Critter,” modeled on incongruously arranged metrics and spunky multipart dialogues amid several paradigm shifts and sprightly aerial assaults.
Wright leads the Outfit through bracing swing, bop, and ballad segments via shifting parameters that seamlessly flow and interconnect. Each piece contains massive doses of pop and sizzle. And “Whaticism,” is a song-form designed with unorthodox extended note opuses that burst out of nowhere, reinforced by Lisa Mezzacappa’s earthen-toned bass notes, leading to a pre-planned breakdown. However, the “The Sea and Space” contains a sleek luster due to Francis’ complex flute phrasings in unison with Wright, and trombonist Rob Ewing’s burly solo. Here, the ensemble yields a controlled semblance of well-coordinated abstractions.
The musicians dish out minimalism and microtonal, free- form dialogues while also reverse-engineering various activities. Other regions of sound are constructed on pumping grooves and, changeable motifs that are heavily outlined upon variable cadences. Consequently, “St. Bruno’s Purview” is a mid-tempo burner atop a quasi, New Orleans 2nd line March pattern, hued with animated horn passages. Without further ado, Apples + Oranges warrants serious consideration for a spot in many year-end top-10 lists.
In jazz, there are composers and there are soloists and, as they say, “never the twain shall meet.” Okay, not impossible, but it is rare in modern jazz for a musician to be both an outstanding soloist and a talented arranger. Listening to Apples + Oranges by West Coast saxophonist Cory Wright, the challenge is to determine which of the two talents makes this a thriving and effective recording.
But then again, requiring one to choose will result in a false choice. I like both chocolate and peanut butter, and I love them together.
The disc opens with “Freddie Awaits The Sleepers,” a piece that wouldn’t be out of place in the 1959 repertoire of Ornette Coleman. That is, if Ornette would have employed a trombonist. Rob Ewing’s bone punches through the evanescent bebop passages while Evan Francis’ alto saxophone shakes skittering notes. Wright’s composition masquerades as unconfined, but it is actually a tightly woven composition. And so are the other seven pieces he penned here. “Whaticism” plays with time, bassist Lisa Mezzacappa soloing, then guiding the quintet through some challenging parts. The music alternately tangles complex arrangements with accommodating solos. Wright’s saxophone is a resonant full-bodied sound that fits hand in glove with altoist Evan Francis. He plays both tenor saxophone and Bb clarinet here, delivering a brawny sound. One that has been featured in the bands of Anthony Braxton, Adam Rudolph, Vinnie Golia, and Yusef Lateef.
The beauty of this session is the range of the music. Wright’s music can encompass the ceremonial sounds of the “St. Bruno’s” series, a semi-classical chamber jazz composition “Eyedrop,” and “Low Impact Critter,” a sort of “Carl Stalling” cartoon music tribute score. Apples + Oranges turns the wow factor to maximum.
by Mark Corroto. Originally posted at All About Jazz