Martin Wind Quintet – My Astorian Queen – Laika Records

by | Nov 6, 2021 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

A joyous tribute to the Big Apple…

Martin Wind Quintet– My Astorian Queen – Laika Records #35103912 – 53:44 – ****1/2

(Martin Wind – bass; Scott Robinson – tenor & bass saxophone, clarinet, trumpet; Bill Mays – piano; Matt Wilson – drums & percussion)

New York City has always been the City of Dreams, a metropolis of both hope, and opportunity. Immigrants have imagined this city as a chance for redemption, a new start, and hope to soak in its magic. For jazz musicians, it is a testing ground, and a challenge to both play with, and learn from “the best.” The saying aptly goes, “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”

Such was the case for German bassist, Martin Wind, who arrived in New York City 25 years ago, to take a bite out of The Big Apple. In short order, his talents became known here. Even better, he met his future wife (a friend of  pianist, Bill Mays’ wife) in the first 48  hours here. His adventure continued, studying at NYU, getting married, and welcoming a child, while living in Astoria, in the Queens borough.

As a testament to Martin’s acceptance in the vital NYC jazz scene, Wind began playing with the cream of the crop. Three of the best accompany Martin on a musical celebration of his quarter century love affair with New York City. They are Scott Robinson, who hasn’t found a reed or brass instrument that he can’t master. On this CD, he expands the soundscape with the rarely played, bass saxophone, in addition to the tenor, clarinet, and trumpet. Martin’s mentor, Bill Mays, is on piano, while drummer, Matt Wilson, who is at home in ANY jazz setting, rounds out the quintet.

Song selection is comprised of Wind’s favorite paeans to honor his new home base. Mostly well known tunes (in addition to three Wind originals), each help express his love for NYC. 

Opening with Thad Jones’ “ Mean What You Say,” a song that the Mel Lewis/Thad Jones Big Band featured in their book, and Martin had the pleasure of covering, as a member of the orchestra. The quintet’s version is bright, warm, and swinging. Mays’ touch is just right, and so well recorded. Scott’s gentle trumpet sets a relaxed mood. Martin’s “Solitude” follows, and appropriately was penned during COVID. It’s reflective, and its moodiness is expressed through Robinson’s clarinet. Wind’s bass solo is reflective.

“Broadway” is upbeat, with Scott’s mastery of the unwieldy bass sax on full display. It lifts this standard into new low register territory. Martin’s favorite Bill Mays’ composition, “Peace Waltz” follows. It brought to mind Bill Evans’ similar title, “Peace Piece,” with its lyricism at the forefront. Martin’s bass solo here is sublime.

Wind’s affection for Brazilian jazz is featured on the lilting choruses of “E Preciso Perduar.” Martin’s “Out in P.A.” is a tribute to his whirlwind early days in New York, when he and his soon-to-be wife, Maria, visited Mays’ country home in rural Pennsylvania. It is both  a tender and moving track. 

The same can be said for the title track, written for Maria, Martin’s Astorian Queen.

The final two tracks are Big Apple chestnuts, expressing the wonder and awe of living in New York City. “There’s a Boat that’s leaving soon for New York,” is a Gershwin staple. Scott Robinson’s mellow trumpet choruses leave a warm, adoring feel, while the ultimate New York City ballad, “New York, New York,” done mostly as a bass feature, taken at a slow pace, concludes this tender, magnificent jazz love affair for the most majestic city in the United States. This unique city opened its heart and musical soul to its wide eyed German visitor, who now calls it home…

Mean What You Say
Peace Waltz
E Preciso Perduar
Out in P.A.
My Astorian Queen
There’s a Boat that’s leaving soon for New York
New York, New York

—Jeff Krow

Martin Wind Quintet– My Astorian Queen, Album Cover

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