Dan Pugach Nonet – Plus One – Unit Records

by | Jan 25, 2018 | Jazz CD Reviews

A nonet that gives the impression and conviction of a larger group driven by a musically creative drummer.

Dan Pugach Nonet – Plus One – Unit Records UTR 4816 52:28***

[Artist and Track List follows]

It is generally conceded that the nonet which Miles Davis brought to the Royal Roost club in New York City in September 1948 changed the direction of American Jazz music. The subsequent recordings by this entity in 1949 and 50 under the title Birth Of The Cool cemented the iconic music of what was, in essence, a rehearsal band. Dan Pugach’s Nonet has no such pretensions. It is, nonetheless, a tight knit organization that shows an assertive and imaginative approach to the material recorded on the album  Plus One.

With February 16, 2018, release date, the bar has been set high starting with the opening track “Brooklyn Blues” although is has more a Crescent City second line vibe, which is propelled along by Pugach’s drumming. “Coming Here” opens with a few tasty bars from trombonist Mike Fahie, followed by some pointed interplay from the ensemble, before trumpeter Ingrid Jensen shows her biting attack. As the melody weaves in and out with soloists finding their space, Pugach continues to demonstrate that his drumming is full of ideas and energy.

Vocalist Nicole Zuraitis (wife of drummer Pugach) brings her silky voice to the Dolly Parton number “Jolene”.  The interpretation offered here is a long way from Parton’s C&W pleading vocal, but is nevertheless effective in this moving version especially as the band provides a crafty supportive arrangement. Chick Corea’s “Crystal Silence” again showcases Zuraitis’ soaring soprano voice as she dominates the number. The band is intensely engrossed as they delve into the somewhat mystical arrangement by Pugach.

A delightful change of pace is delivered by Zuraitis on another Pugach original “Our Blues”. With lyrics that cut close to the bone of the male ego, the band rocks in a groove that is tight and inventive. The session ends with “Discourse This”. There is some wicked high note trumpet playing from Dave Smith during the shimmering arrangement. Pianist Jorn Swart is heard to good effect, as well as baritone saxophonist Andrew Gutauskas. All the while drummer Pugach puts his drumming stamp of approval on the proceedings.

This is a nonet that gives the impression and conviction of a larger group, which is driven by a musically creative drummer.

TrackList: Brooklyn Blues; Coming Here; Jolene; Zelda; Belo’s Bellow; Crystal Silence; Love Dance; Our Blues; Discourse This

Artist List:

Dan Pugach – drums; Ingrid Jensen – trumpet tracks#2,3,5,8; David Smith – trumpet, flugelhorn tracks#1,4,6,7,9; Mike Fahie – trombone; Jen Hinkle – bass trombone; Andrew Gould – alto saxophone, flute; Jeremy Powell – tenor saxophone, clarinet; Andrew Gutauskas – baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Nicole Zuraitis – voice tracks#3,6,7,8; Carmen Staff – piano tracks#2,3,5,8; Jorn Swart – piano tracks#1,4,6,7,9; Tamis Shmerling – bass; Bernardo Aguiar – pandeiro track#5

—Pierre Giroux






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