Cool Cleveland Sounds
Northcoast Jazz Collective
If you’re a Fat Fish Blue fan, or a regular patron of the Cleveland Museum of Art’
s “Summer in the Courtyard” series, you are undoubtedly aware of Northcoast
Jazz Collective. The group features Dan Maier (piano), John Gallo (bass), Dave
Frank (tenor sax) and bandleader Mark Grey (drums) and offers a delectable
blend of accessible jazz standards and “straight-up” original jazz material that is
clever and intuitive and has modern ambience. They're one of the gems of the
Northeast Ohio jazz scene.
Their self-titled CD featured 9 original compositions, drawing on a wide range of
tasty phrasing, smoky chops and lilting rhythms. While moving in some new
directions with the new 11 tracks on Changing Times -- and writing all the material save for Charlie Haden's "La
Pasionaria" -- the next verse is just as intriguing as the first. This disc's 11 tracks are everything you might expect of
the lauded quartet.
From the opening strains of Gallo's "Two Dozen Blues" and the disc's title track, the NJC radiates charm, warmth,
and the sort of instrumental intuition that only comes from regular gigging. They also offer a sense of honoring
history with their compositional phrasing. What's more, their approach is accessible enough to engage a first-time
jazz fan without intimidation. From the romantic flair of "Sweet Mary Sunshine" and sprightly flute-and-piano runs in
"Spring Day," to the delicate Sunday rain that should accompany "Gray Sky, White Light," each cut on Changing
Times has a definite sense of mood and purpose.
And once those original compositions work their way into your subconscious, the NJC's arrangement and reworking
of Haden's "La Pasionaria" cinches everything up. Haden, a double bassist tour de force in his own right and one-
time sideman for jazz legends Ornette Coleman and Keith Jarrett, really needs to hear this. If anyone is putting
together a 70th birthday compilation CD for Haden, this should be the leadoff track. It does Haden, and the
venerable NJC, exquisitely proud.
From Cool Cleveland Managing Editor Peter Chakerian peterATcoolcleveland.com