INTRIGUING ARRANGER…Jeff Lederer: Swing N’ Dix, Mary LaRose: Reincarnation

What difference does an arranger make? Well, reedist Jeff Lederer brings forth two highly varying releases that are unified by his presence on sax and clarinet, as well as showing an intriguing ear for sounds.

Swing N’ Dix has Lederer with a traditionally untraditional teamof Kirk Knuffke/cor, Bob Stewart/tub, and Matt Wilson/dr that marries old school Crescent City street sounds, West Coast Cool, a hint of Klezmer and a dash of the avant garde. A well known p iece like “Honesuckle Rose” melds trad and free, and the playful attitude continues in a ribald “Nibble” and the title track. Shades of Shorty Rogers as well as the local Hadassa meet on “Ride” as well as on a 7 Come Eleven-ish “I’ll Take a Dozen.” Some wonderful vocals are delivered bby Mary LaRose of the traditional “My Sweet Home in Zion” and  exciting sax an d drum work bounce around on “La Rosita.” Fun and frenetic!

Mary LaRose is present on the whole Meghilla on a fascinatingly clever idea that mixes her fragrant vocals with strings provided by violin (Johnny Gandelsman, Colin Jacobsen) , viola (Nicolas Cords), cello (Eric Jacobsen) and bass (Chris Lightcap).  Guest appearances by Lederer/cl-ts, Kirk Knuffke/cornet and Matt Wilson/dr are mixed and matched together on wondrously thoughtful and dreamy yet edgy material ranging from free spirits Charles Mingus, Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman to Johnny Cash. The tricky melodies and rhythms of “Reincarnation of a Lovebird” and “Nostalgia in Times Square” are handled by LaRose’s flexible delivery while the strings contrast the complexity with silky drapes of comfort. Cash’s “Ring of Fire” burns like a hot poker, and what you would think would be the weakest link, Ayler’s “Witches and Devils” as well as Coleman’s “Broken Shadows” and “What Reason Could I Give?” are embracing and inviting in warmth. A real surprise that draws you in with enticing sounds and looks in the eyes.

Little (i) Music

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