Woodwind master and composer Adam Kolker has experimented with ensembles of various sizes, musicians of differing approach, creative studio work and eclectic genre blending to create his oeuvre, one that is highly distinctive in its communicability and artful expression.
For the past couple of years, Kolker has led a dynamic and wide-ranging trio featuring Billy Mintz, an outstanding drummer and composer with whom Kolker has played with regularly for years, and the brilliant guitarist Steve Cardenas. The empathetic interaction between the three musicians makes for fascinating, moving music.
For his latest recording, Beckon, Kolker presents the trio along with a number of pieces featuring a woodwind ensemble. Kolker’s overdubbing of woodwinds has been an important element of his recorded output. With this new project Kolker wanted to more fully integrate the wind ensemble with the trio, and he assembled a fantastic group of professional woodwind players, namely flautist Lawrence Feldman, clarinetist David Gould, and bassoonist Jackie Henderson.
It was after the recording sessions that the album really began to take shape. Kolker whittled down the playlist from the many tunes that were recorded, fitting the right pieces into a program that he felt fit a cohesive esthetic, one that focused on strong compositions with focused melodic statements and lush harmonic sensibilities.
The recording begins with the trio piece “Millersville,” a dedication to Kolker’s friend and teacher Ron Miller from the University of Miami. The title track is introduced by the three woodwinds as Kolker’s tenor floats over a gentle harmonic bed. Mintz’s energetic “Cannonball” is a grooving, bluesy change of pace with a jaunty rhythmic pulse and Cardenas’s forceful guitar, which was written for the beloved saxophonist Julian Adderley.
The lovely “Slow Dance” takes inspiration from Toru Takemitsu’s score for Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, utilizing simultaneous major and minor tonalities in a meditative tone poem. “Cycles” evolved from a circle of fifths exercise with the melody and harmonies derived from that cycle of resolutions creating an Americana inspired tune that seems both complex and direct. Harry Warren’s “I Wish I Knew” is performed in a warm, stripped down arrangement by the trio. The program concludes with a haunting flute-led “Beautiful You” composed by Mintz, which leads to a lovely tenor feature closing the disc.
Adam Kolker’s beautiful Beckon is a culmination of two musical streams coming together: Kolker’s new trio of Billy Mintz and Steve Cardenas and woodwind ensemble. The results allure listeners with gorgeously poignant music mixing elements of jazz, classical, and Americana.
released June 2, 2017
Adam Kolker - tenor sax (flute, clarinet, bass clarinet on "Beautiful You")
Steve Cardenas - guitar
Billy Mintz - drums
Lawrence Feldman - flute, alto flute
David Gould - clarinet, bass clarinet
Jackie Henderson - bassoon