March 16, 2018

  • Gorgeous New Jazz Ensemble Release Offering Something More


    Something More: Jazz Music of Timothy Lee Miller
    Annalise Stalls, alto sax/flute; Dave Finucane, tenor sax; Brandon Lee, trumpet;
    Evan Ringle, trombone; Chris Boerner, guitar; Thomas Linger, piano; Steve Haines, bass; Daniel Faust, drums.
    Jason Prover, trumpet/flugelhorn; Chris Bittner, tenor sax; Michael O’Brien, bass; Charles Goold, drums.
    Ansonica Records 0006
    Total Time: 55:15
    Recording:   ****/****
    Performance: ****/****


    Ansonica’s latest release brings a collection of jazz-influenced pieces by composer Timothy Lee Miller.  He is a highly-recognized and awarded composer with an emphasis in concert and jazz music, though he has also written for film and television.  Miller has selected 8 works here each with a personal connection to members of his family.  The result here is the perfect little jazz ensemble album for any drive time.

    “Sebastian’s Day Off” opens with a rather laid back jazz ensemble number.  After a rather relaxed opening, the music begins to pick up the pace and begins a rather exciting unfolding of a small motif that launches into a faster sax solo section.  The music here follows a typical day in the park with the composer’s son.  Hi aunt Ruby is honored next in “Ruby in the Ruff”.  There is some great interplay here between sax, piano, and guitar as the primary melody here is beautifully laid out.  After these fairly “typical” jazz rhythms, there is the first of the intriguing highlights of the album in “Dear Della Mae”  In this almost noir-ish number, Miller uses a 13-8 meter to create a rather cool rhythmic line that repeats almost like a passacaglia while the solo lines provide a variety of improvisational lines across this rather intriguing rhythmic idea.  We move into a more touching and reflective piece in “Inky and Marie”, this is along the lines of a soulful and emotional style.  The second half of the album opens with a jazz waltz, “Stellee & Jack” giving over some solo work for trumpet.  “Poochie’s Waltz”, written for another of the composer’s aunts, continues this exploration of this meter with a touching and reflective portrait.  They are separated by the fascinating “Boo’s Bolero”.  The album ends with a mesmerizing final reflective work that gives its name to the CD.  Here, intricate piano lines help move the opening forward until we arrive at light jazz section.  There is something about this that recalls Paul Winter releases, though decidedly less on the New Age front.

    Miller’s jazz works here are quite accessible and really the album is a great jazz release of often touching and emotional music mixed with a variety of interesting rhythmic and solo work by the performers.  The interplay with the different solo lines is quite inviting as well.  Each of the tracks, even with its often touching inspirational story, work fine as pure jazz ensemble works.  That said, the album comes across as a rather beautiful love letter to Miller’s close and extended family.  This is one of the great little surprises of Ansonica’s catalogue worth tracking down.