The James Danderfer Group
Thank goodness for small, professional labels such as Cellar Live, which consistently offers up Canadian music which otherwise would not see a disk, or would be self-produced making it that much harder to find.
Here is another case where the label has brought a very mellow, relaxing and enjoyable jazz disk, this time from The James Danderfer Group.
This is a CD where the music is truly defined by the instrumentation. James Danderfer takes the lead most often of course, playing clarinet, bass clarinet, flute and alto flute, all instruments which set mood and pace to a jazz piece. Danderfer is joined by Brad Turner on trumpet and flugelhorn, Chad Makela on baritone saxophone Chris Gestrin on piano, Paul Rushka on bass, and Joe Poole on drums. It's a big unit for this age, and the music they create comes across as full-fledged, with the subtle undertones that only a diversified band of musicians can achieve.
Danderfer is originally from Vancouver, but as most musicians do, he travels, and Accelerated Development really reflects on one of those journeys. The artist spent considerable time in Shanghai. And the CD liner notes talk about how the city, and its culture, influenced the writing of the music.
“The exposure to Shanghai's environment of boundless change, and the desire to depict it through my compositions, has been a liberating challenge for me,” wrote the artist. “Writing songs that are relevant to this place and this time has led me to break away from standard jazz forms and to organically incorporate new sounds and styles into the music.”
What that really boils down to is music which doesn't always offer up the expected, a facet of this work most clearly seen on the title cut, which incorporates some unusual sounds into the standard jazz mix, not to overpower, or to distract the listener, but to heighten the musical experience as the ear is drawn to the ever changing landscape of the piece.
Overall the result comes across as a fresh approach to jazz, yet it is still music built on the finest traditions of the style, with clarinet and flute giving the listener some sweetly familiar to hang on to as well.
This is Danderfer's second release on the Cellar Live label, following a 2006 release of Run With It.
You can check out the group at www.cellarlive.com or www.jamesdanderfer.com
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper March 11, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada