Tim Green – Songs from This Season – True Melody Music – 66:18 ****:
(Tim Green – alto saxophone, producer; Allyn Johnson – piano (tracks 1, 5, 8, 13), organ (tracks 5, 13), Fender Rhodes (track 10); Kris Funn – bass (tracks 1, 4, 6, 10-12); Romain Collin – synthesizer (tracks 1, 9), piano (tracks 2, 7, 9); Gilad Hekselman – guitar (tracks 2, 5, 7-8, 13); Obed Calvaire – drums (tracks 2, 5, 7-9, 13); Josh Ginsburg – bass (tracks 2, 5, 7, 9, 13); Warren Wolf – vibes (tracks 3-4, 11-12); Orrin Evans – piano (tracks 3, 11-12), Fender Rhodes (track 4); Rodney Green – drums (tracks 3-4, 6, 11-12); Micah Smith – vocals (tracks 4, 8); Adam Johnson – electric bass (track 8); Loren Dawson – organ (track 8); Kenny Shelton – synthesizer (track 8); Iyana Wakefield – vocals (track 8); Troy Stuart – cello (track 9); Quamon Fowler – EWI (track 10); Quincy Phillips – drums (track 10))
There is a sense of connection on alto saxophonist Tim Green’s sophomore release, Songs from This Season, his first since being runner-up in the 2008 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. The 13-track outing links both contemporary and time-honored jazz; over the span of 66 minutes, Green and his multiple ensembles (he utilizes 17 musicians in various configurations, recorded during different sessions) perform material with a relationship to spirituality (Christian themes are prevalent); and Green pays homage or tribute to musical heroes, including Wayne Shorter, Billie Holiday and others. And there is the musical connection between Green and his fellow players.
Songs from This Season took a while to create. The project compiles compositions Green penned over five to seven years, each inspired by different periods in Green’s life, mirrored in the titles and music, an approach he explains in a promotional video. Each time frame constitutes what Green terms a season (not one of the four seasons which make up a year, but instead stretches of personal moments). The music shares one commonality, whether a tune is fusion-inclined or hard boppish, which is melody. Green wrote everything except the Shorter and Holiday numbers, and presents reflective phrases throughout. This deliberate process is heard on the second piece, “Siloam,” which is part of the Bible’s Jesus lore. This has an artful arrangement, essentially a 12-bar blues in 10/4 time, with unusual harmonics, briskly slanted rhythms, and intricate interaction between Green and guitarist Gilad Hekselman, who is featured on five tracks. Another cut which has a theological connotation and also highlights Hekselman is “Philippians 4:13,” (the title refers to scripture which concerns divine devotion). The number elevates from a mid-tempo, flowing tone to slightly rougher instances and back again. Both guitar and sax break into higher registers, and then smoothly slide down. Rock music and cinema are both part of the freely-reined “Time for Liberation,” which was motivated by director Spike Lee, whom Green heard speak at Green’s alma mater, USC. While “Time for Liberation” swings in a traditional way, Hekselman’s occasional, distorted guitar provides a harder (and hard rock) stance. Green’s most heartfelt work is the beautiful ballad, “Shift,” which evokes his gospel roots. Green’s suave sax is accentuated by Micah Smith and Iyana Wakefield’s lulling, wordless vocals and Hekselman’s understated guitar. Hekselman’s final contribution comes on the intermediately moving closer, “Hope,” although he’s overshadowed by pianist Allyn Johnson, who offers a steadfast solo.
Vibraphonist Warren Wolf also supplies masterful backing on four cuts (he has worked with Clifton Anderson, Christian McBride, Bobby Watson and Tia Fuller). He is heard to fine effect on the swiftly-circling “Dedication,” which honors two of Green’s favorites, Mulgrew Miller and Kenny Kirkland. Green’s most romantic piece is “ChiTown,” which is not a tribute to the Windy City, but rather an example of ardor composed for Green’s wife, Anoa Green. Green glides away from balladic conventionality, though, with a balmy groove, underlined by Wolf’s vibes and Orrin Evans’ cordial Fender Rhodes. Wolf and Evans combine again on the twisting, bop-inspired “The Queen of Sheba,” an additional Biblical story brought to life. The sax, piano, vibes, bass and drums hurtle through enthusiastic chord changes: in concert, this must be a crowd pleaser. Green turns from the monarch who adored Solomon to another well-known lady, with his emotive reading of Billie Holiday’s tender “Don’t Explain,” which proves the blues is one of Green’s muses. While Green takes the spotlight, Wolf and Evans also shine. There are other notable tracks as well, including the elegiac commemoration, “Lost Souls,” a quiet, brief celebration for a friend who passed away at a young age. Here, Green’s alto sax sympathetically blends with Troy Stuart’s cello, although the piece fades too soon. One more noticeable constituent is the album’s production, which has a cohesive ambiance. This is due in part to Green’s inviting sax, but also because of the production and engineering, which emphasize the welcoming quality of the sax and the other instruments, despite the use of four studios and even more engineers.
TrackList: Psalm 1; Siloam; Dedication; ChiTown; Philippians 4:13; Pinocchio; Time for Liberation; Shift; Lost Souls; Peace; The Queen of Sheba; Don’t Explain; Hope