Jim Piela – Out of Orbit – Orenda 

by | Apr 24, 2019 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Jim Piela – Out of Orbit – [TrackList follows] – Orenda 0061, 44:51 [2/8/19] ****:

On saxophonist Jim Piela’s sophomore CD release, the 45-minute Out of Orbit, there is a different approach to generating the spaces for harmony. Piela’s method is to let melodies and grooves from sax, Joey Lamb’s trumpet, Bob Sabin’s bass and Josh Bailey’s drums produce the musical harmony. There are no instruments—such as guitar or piano—which traditionally create an individual chord. The harmony comes from the entwining of the melody lines, most often from trumpet and sax. Piela explains, “In the album; the space provided by playing without a chordal instrument, the high-flying melodies, and the deep grooves reflect the untethered freedom and excitement I’ve found immersing myself in the unfamiliar. Fear is an extremely powerful emotion, but this album celebrates the elation that is uncovered when one overcomes that fear, takes risks and pursues the road less traveled.” It was his commitment to facing the unknown which led Piela to accept his inner challenge to make chordless jazz. This isn’t untrodden terrain. Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, trumpeter John Raymond and others have played or continue to play similar jazz.

Most of the eight tracks are Piela originals. His six compositions sit nicely together with a rendition of “Moment’s Notice” (from Coltrane’s 1957 LP Blue Train) and the jazz standard “I’ll Be Seeing You,” done previously by Billie Holiday, Brad Mehldau, Linda Ronstadt and more. Most of the CD program has a customary jazz style which reveals Piela’s background in jazz, jazz/funk, and other jazz idioms. The quartet commences with the five-minute, bop-ish “Little One,” where Lamb echoes Clifford Brown while Piela recalls Charlie Parker’s less frenetic moments. That’s followed by the mid-tempo, grooving “Little Bird,” with expressive trumpet and sax rapport. The lengthiest tune is the nine-minute title track which sometimes swings with a light Latin jazz slant and has the album’s friendliest melody. Sabin (credits include Oliver Lake, Donny McCaslin, Roland Hanna, others) supplies supple bass lines and a wonderful solo, while Bailey (he’s performed with Brian Krock and singer Erin Bowman) contributes an incessant ticking beat. There’s a bit of a funk tint which rides through the 5:24 “In the Basement,” which sounds like something which might have begun as a jam in someone’s practice room. During “In the Basement” everyone shares improvisational instances: Lamb’s trumpet is notable; Sabin adds to the groove with some solid soloing; Piela showcases his sax talent; and Bailey layers the beat with juicy percussive effects.

The two non-originals are arranged effectively and fit well with Piela’s originals. There is an energetic romp to “Moment’s Notice,” where Piela summons up Coltrane’s spirit without mirroring Coltrane’s sound and Bailey elicits praise for his unpredictable and probing rhythmic playing. The CD closes with a simple and beautiful sax/trumpet duet interpretation of “I’ll Be Seeing You,” which demonstrates how wonderful it can be to hear two horns without accompaniment. Out of Orbit was issued via the Southern California imprint Orenda Records, which is starting to make a name for itself for music which spans multiple genres. With the traditionally-minded jazz project Out of Orbit the label proves it doesn’t let any barriers limit its appeal.

Jim Piela – saxophone, co-producer; Joey Lamb – trumpet; Bob Sabin – bass; Josh Bailey – drums

Little One
Early Bird
Moment’s Notice
Bolos and Bowties
Out of Orbit
In the Basement
The Younger and the Elder
I’ll Be Seeing You

—Doug Simpson


More Information and Music about this release from Orenda Records Website:

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