Thursday, December 18, 2014

Joseph Daley, Portraits: Wind, Thunder and Love

Anybody with an involvement in the modern jazz scene knows Joseph Daley as a prime tuba virtuoso, who has made his mark across the spectrum of new jazz offerings, perhaps most notably as the tuba presence in Sam River's acclaimed Tuba Trio, where he defined how a tuba could be both a backbone and a vivid solo presence in a free yet structured three-way dialog.

What might not be as well known is that Joseph is also a fine composer. His recent Portraits: Wind, Thunder and Love (Jodamusic 002) will set that straight. Maestro Daley conducts a small chamber orchestra on this recording in a series of eight lively portraits.

The orchestra is packed with artists who fill our ears with sounds that reflect the jazz improvisational and the new music camps equally but in line with composer Daley's own special musical ways. So we have players like Jason Hwang, Elektra Curtis, Sarah Bernstein, Akua Dixon, Marika Hughes, Ken Filiano, Warren Smith, and guests Jerry Gonzalez, Onaje Allan Gumbs and more.

The portraits show Daley as an original voice, an inventive persona, a composer of real merit. The first five portraits, "Whispercussion," give pride of place to the percussion master Warren Smith, in a kind of concerto context that shows Mr. Smith in his varied excellence on mallets, percussion and drums as it gives us music that sings out and builds a rich backdrop for his excellent solo work.

"Shadrack" highlights the multiple reed master Bill Cole in a fascinating world-spanning piece. Akua Dixon solos nicely on cello as well. "Doretha and the Blues" is dedicated to Joseph's soul-mate of 43 years, Wanda Doretha. It is a lush and soulful hipness that comes at us with some really beautiful string and orchestral scoring. Charles Burnham takes on the solo violin role with some definite testifying going on! "Industria" gives us Maestro Smith on tympani, Elektra Curtis, violin, and the basses of Benjamin Brown and Ken Filiano as soloists. The music is a sort of Afro-jazz caravan moving steadily into tomorrow, very hip and modern but with very strong roots.

This is music of adventure, Afro-American modern if you will, music of today, filled with both tradition and newness. Joseph Daley is a composer of stature, a real force. The music combines a heritage and a view to the future in ways that make you want to listen often, each time getting more from it all.

Definitely recommended!

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