8.3.12 Matt Slocum + Josh Nelson + Darek Oles
“The man has found his drumming voice, and at an early age!” -Peter Erskine
On After the Storm, award winning New York drummer and composer Matt Slocum fulfills upon the promise displayed on his critically acclaimed debut recording Portraits. Gerald Clayton (piano) and Massimo Biolcati (bass), longtime friends and musical collaborators, complete the trio in a set that showcases six new original compositions as well as “It’s Easy to Remember”, “Everything I Love”, and Slocum’s arrangement of Ravel’s “La Vallée des Cloches”. The recording, which took place immediately following a week long engagement at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, highlights the emotional depth and imaginative sophistication of Slocum’s compositions as well as the trio’s tremendous musical growth and unique brand of intuitive exploration, interaction and empathy.
At 29, Matt Slocum is quickly emerging as one of the leading double threat jazz artists of his generation. His original works on After the Storm reveal a growing level of compositional depth, which has recently been recognized with composition grants from the American Music Center, the Puffin Foundation, and the Meet the Composer Foundation. His trio has earned a reputation as one of the premier modern, yet swinging emerging ensembles in jazz today. This year the group will be featured throughout North America and Europe at upper echelon venues such as Yoshi’s, the Blue Note, the Saratoga Jazz Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Earshot Jazz Festival, the Jazz Bakery and many others. Slocum has been featured on more than 20 recordings and has performed and/or recorded with artists such as Shelly Berg, Seamus Blake, Alan Broadbent, Steve Cardenas, Bill Cunliffe, Danny Grissett, Taylor Eigsti, Larry Koonse, Lage Lund, Wynton Marsalis, Linda Oh, Alan Pasqua, Jerome Sabbagh, Jaleel Shaw, Walter Smith III, Dayna Stephens, Ben Wendel, Gerald Wiggins, Anthony Wilson and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
Frequently referred to as a “musical” drummer, Slocum possesses a uniquely personal voice on the instrument and is a propulsive, melodic and dynamic accompanist and soloist. Few drummers can match his dynamic and textural shading on the instrument or his ability to shape the inner space of a composition in such a personal, creatively supportive, yet interactive way. While Slocum clearly has a deep understanding of the jazz tradition, his intuitive and interactive musical language on the drums is largely non-derivative and consistently avoids the predictable. And like his counterparts on After the Storm, Slocum’s identifiable touch and sound on the instrument greatly enhances the musical proceedings.
Matt Slocum was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and raised east of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area in western Wisconsin. His first instrument was piano, and he began playing the drums at 11. While in high school he was introduced to jazz through recordings featuring Max Roach and Philly Joe Jones. After graduating Slocum received a full scholarship to attend the University of Southern California. It was nearly 10 years ago at USC where he met fellow classmates and collaborators Gerald Clayton and Massimo Biolcati. Biolcati was studying at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at USC while Slocum and Clayton were both part of the jazz studies program at the university. Slocum stayed in California for three years after graduating from USC and had the opportunity to work with and learn from many of the West Coast’s finest jazz artists. Although the trio members played together frequently in various configurations, it wasn’t until after Slocum made the move the New York in fall 2007 that the trio began working together as a unit. In January 2010, the group released its debut recording. All About Jazz-New York raved, “With this excellent premiere, Slocum steps out of the box as the full package,” while All Music Guide wrote, “This auspicious debut should put Matt Slocum’s name firmly on the jazz map.”
After the Storm represents a quantum leap for the young trio. The recording opens with “Jacaranda”, a lyrical Slocum original that reveals the trio’s sophisticated originality, sensitivity and borderline telepathic communication. It calls to attention a somewhat unique aspect of Slocum’s writing approach- his ability to tailor each composition to the unique voices and strengths of the artists for whom he is composing. “The Catalyst” draws on the darker colors of his increasingly personal harmonic language and illustrates that while Slocum excels with brushes and mallets, he can also propel the trio into high gear when the music calls for it. As Peter Erskine noted in the liner notes to Portraits, “…as musical as this album is, it is not drum solo shy by any means. Matt steps out as well he should, both as a player as well as a composer.”
“It’s Easy to Remember” highlights the trio’s taste and compelling emotional directness in delivering a ballad. Slocum notes that, “We try to get inside not just the melody, harmony and rhythmic shape of a piece, but also the emotional feeling and message. Gerald’s introduction and interpretation really relate to the lyric and the bittersweet nature of this composition.”
The minor key and shifting meters of “Passaic” allude to the dark beauty and serpentine characteristics of the Passaic River, while the title track features one of Clayton’s strongest solos on the date, expertly supported by Biolcati and Slocum’s fluid rhythmic and dynamic interplay. “La Vallée des Cloches” showcases Slocum’s considerable skill and taste as an arranger. He retains the essence of Ravel’s composition while incorporating improvisation and arranging the movement to fit perfectly with the trio’s unique musical aesthetic. Other highlights on After the Storm include the haunting “When Love is New”, the driving modern swing of “Pete’s Place”, and a playfully original interpretation of “Everything I Love”.
“It was an ideal situation in which to record. Performing together each night in the week leading up the recording helped bring us into the possibilities of the music. We were able to go in the studio and just play freely- listening and taking chances rather than needing to think about the technical aspects of the new music. Most of the tracks are first takes; I like the energy, the spontaneity of a first take, and I don’t want it to be too perfect. Intentions are most important and, for me, the core of the music is playing off each other.” -Matt Slocum
Matt Slocum endorses Canopus drums and Istanbul Agop cymbals.
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“Josh is that rare young musician who has not only a wealth of study and experience under his belt (all but assuring him a prominent place in jazz music), but he also possesses those rarest of musical attributes: a touch, a tone, and a “sound” that are all identifiably his own.” - Peter Erskine
“A definite fresh sound by a guy who should be in everyone’s iPod.” - George Harris, All About Jazz
“Nelson distinguishes himself as a first-rate player and composer with a fresh, wholly personal take on the music.” - Bill Milkowski
Josh Nelson, born and raised in Southern California, maintains an active and creative schedule as a jazz pianist, composer, teacher, and recording artist. At 32 years old, he has already performed with some of the most respected names in jazz, including Natalie Cole, Anthony Wilson, Bob Hurst, Jeff Hamilton, Ralph Moore, Albert “Tootie”Heath, Seamus Blake, Matt Wilson, Sara Gazarek, Ernie Watts, Jack Sheldon, Tom Scott, Peter Erskine, Abe Laboriel, and Alex Acuna, to name a few. Josh has recorded for countless albums, films, and TV shows, but also makes time for his own projects: First Stories (1998), Anticipation (2004) and Let it Go (2007, Native Language Music) all garnered international critical claim. Josh’s latest album, I Hear a Rhapsody (2009), displays Josh’s musings on new original music, standard interpretations, and reinventions of pop tunes.
Compositions and performances of his have appeared on various prime-time and cable shows and films, including “Jack and Bobby”, “The Division”, “Lucky”, and “First Daughter”. He has also worked with film composer Michael Kamen, and actors Eric Idle, Clint Eastwood, and Jon Lovitz. Josh has earned many awards, scholarships, and accolades over the years, some of which include the Louis Armstrong Award and the John Philip Sousa Award. He was also one of 12 semi-finalists in the prestigious 2006 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition.
Josh is also musical director for vocal talent Sara Gazarek, of which he penned the title track of her debut record, “Yours”. That record reached No. 10 on the Billboard Jazz Charts. Sara’s second studio album, Return to You (2006), also featured Josh’s singer/songwriter skills.
Currently, Josh continues his touring with legendary vocalist Natalie Cole. He is also always working on a new CD project, and is just happy to be alive and playing with wonderful musicians.
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Darek “Oles” Oleszkiewicz was born on February 20, 1963 in Wroclaw, Poland.
At the age of five Darek began his music education at the State Music School in Wroclaw.
Piano was his first instrument, but later he played guitar, electric bass and finally at eighteen years old, he switched to accoustic bass. While in his teens he played with amateur groups, evolving in popular music styles from rock, blues, jazz-rock to straight ahead jazz.
In the early 1980′s, Darek participated in various jazz festivals and national competitions for young musicians. In 1983, he was the most awarded musician at the Jazz Juniors in Cracow, winning the first individual prize, first prize for jazz composition and a second prize in jazz combo category. Later that year Darek was invited by Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski, a jazz legend in Poland, to join saxophonist’s quartet on tour.
In the following five years Darek Oleszkiewicz was working steadily with some of the best jazz bands in the country such as: Zbigniew Namyslowski Quartet, Tomasz Szukalski Quartet, Henryk Majewski Quintet, Wojciech Karolak Trio and Andrzej Jagodzinski Trio and Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski Quartet. With those groups he recorded for Polish Jazz, Polskie Nagrania, East Wind and also for the radio and television in Poland and abroad. Darek was touring extensively in Poland, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Cuba, Mexico and performed at major festivals, concerts and jazz club venues.
In 1988, Darek arrived in Los Angeles with a simple plan in mind: to broaden his musical horizon.
One year later he received a full scholarship from California Institute Of The Arts and began studies with the legendary bassist Charlie Haden. After graduation in 1992, he accepted a teaching position at the Institute, where he has been
conducting jazz ensembles and teaching bass ever since. Since 2002 Darek has been a jazz faculty member at the University Of California in Irvine.
Aside from his teaching duties, Darek has been very active as a performer and became one of the most sought after bass players on the West Coast. “Oles” (his American nick-name) had the opportunity to perform and record with the greatest masters in jazz. A partial list of his collaborations include:
Brad Mehldau, Billy Higgins, Pat Metheny, Joe Lovano, Eddie Henderson, Charles Lloyd, John Abercrombie, Bennie Maupin, Lee Konitz, Peter Erskine, Alan Pasqua, Bennie Wallace, Victor Lewis, Harvey Mason, Dave Grusin, Art Farmer, Horace Silver, Alice Coltrane, Ravi Coltrane, James Newton, Arthur Blythe, Lew Tabackin, Steve Kuhn, Gary Smulyan, Ronnie Cuber, Billy Hart, Kevin Hays, Munyungo Jackon, Steve Hass, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Marian McPartland, Janis Siegel, Bob Brookmeyer, Curtis Fuller, Roy McCurdy, Tom Harrell, Larry Goldings, Bill Stewart, Chris Potter, Kei Akagi, Billy Childs, Bob Sheppard, Joe LaBarbera, Bill Cunliffe, Patrice Rushen, Bennie Golson, Piotr Baron, Teri Lynn Carrington, Buddy De Franco, Terry Gibbs, Anthony Wilson Nonet and Los Angeles Jazz Quartet.
With these and many others artists Darek has recorded approximately 100 albums and performed hundreds of concerts throughout America, Europe and Asia. Several of those recordings were nominated for Grammy Awards.
In 2003, Darek was also nominated to Fryderyk’s Awards in Poland in the category “Jazz Musician Of The Year”.
Darek’s first recording project as a leader “Like A Dream” with Brad Mehldau and Bennie Maupin was released byCryptogramophone Records in 2004 and gained a critical acclaim worldwide. In 2005 Darek “Oles” Oleszkiewicz was voted the “Best Accoustic Bassist” in the Jazz Top readers poll in Jazz Forum European Magazine.
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- August 2, 2012 / 3:33 am
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