These Are Them
- Artist: Alvin Ashley
- Format: CD
- Release Date:9/16/2003
JAZZ PROMO SERVICES AL ASHLEY THESE ARE THEM Multitalented drummer Al (Alvin Lee) Ashley steps out front to make his recording debut as a bandleader on These Are Them, a satisfying straight ahead effort featuring organist Oliver Von Esson, guitarist Rick Stone and special guest, master saxophonist David Liebman, who makes his first ever appearance with an organ trio on the date. Ashley, who has performed with a bevy of jazz greats, including Teddy Wilson, Louis Bellson, Milt Jackson, Terry Gibbs, Al Grey, Jimmy Forrest, Al Cohn, lra Sullivan, Mose Allison, Chris Connor, Carol Sloane, Randy and Michael Brecker and Miraslov Vitous. During an illustrious career that has spanned more than three decades, puts his experience to good use on These Are Them, demonstrating the versatile style that has served so many artists in the past, on a program of music that allows each band member to express himself within the context of a unified group sound. Ashley kicks off the date wilh Blue Note, a composition of his own that was inspired by some of the music that he heard on the famous label when he was growing up. The straight ahead cooker has a simple but catchy melody that Liebman charges right into on tenor, showing that although he hadn't previously recorded in front of an organ trio that he's quite familiar with the soulful saxophone style that works best within the context. Stone's first-rate guitar solo is strongly supported by Von Esson's surefooted pedal work and comping before the organist sets out on his own swinging solo. Ashley's hard-hitting drumming keeps things moving throughout, prodding each player and filling in the spaces with some well-placed licks. The title track, These Are Them, is another Ashley original. The drummer starts off the quirky samba with a short drum introduction before Liebman states the lyrical melody on soprano saxophone. Stone has the first solo, revealing an affinity tor the South American form, followed by Von Esson, who also shows a strong liking for the Brazilian rhythms Ashley so deftly lays down. Liebman's soprano solo exhibits his well-known mastery of the straight horn, demonstrating his impeccable intonation, even as extends the instrument's range. Ashley manages to push the saxophonist to even greater heights during a short duo exchange during which Stone and Von Esson lay out. Oliver Von Esson's Perfect Day is a relaxed outing delineated by Ashley's loping rhythm. Liebman's soulful tenor is reminiscent of past masters like Gene Ammons and lllinois Jacquet who blurred the line between r & b and jazz, giving their music a broad appeal that is sadly missing today. Stone has a tasty solo followed by the composer, who opens the song up with some full-bodied organ. Ashley's in-the-pocket rim shots pick things up a bit before the tune peacefully fades away.The Other Time, another Von Esson composition, is a contemporary sounding waltz that begins with the trio in a Milesian mode before Liebman states the pretty melody on soprano. The saxophonist's solo moves from sweet to strident. Stone and Von Esson support each other excellently during their respective solos and Ashley is particularly prominent in keeping the song interesting throughout the shifting moods. Rick Slone's Relatlve Minority is a hard bopping original that takes it's title from the song's harmonic movement (through relative minors). Liebman plays the melody on tenor with Stone's guitar before the latter takes off on his own with a swinging solo. The saxophonist is up next with an exciting excursion all over his big horn, followed by Von Esson driven by the relentless rhythms of Ashley, who trades some four bar exchanges with the band betore they return to the head. Fats Write is Ashley's dedication to his late great friend and mentor, Fats Wright, a legendary pianist/organist who played with greats like Miles and Trane around New York and Philly betore settling in the Roanoke, Virginia area, where the drummer frequently worked with him. The uptempo tune utilizes some drum breaks by composer in the statement of the melody and features Liebman's soprano and Stone's guitar plus an extended organ solo by Von Esson, all driven by Al Ashley's dynamic drumming. The disc concludes with Dave Liebman's composition Look At What We Do To Ourselves, a previously unrecorded piece by the saxophonist written in response to the human error responsible for the catastrophic accident at Three Mile lsland. Ashley contributes some explosive drumming to this tour de force for the composer's tenor, which modulates from an attractively warm sound to a frightening dark intensity iust before the piece fades into oblivion. These Are Them is an impressive debut recording as a leader from a versatile veteran sideman who has put a lifetime of experience to extremely good use in assembling and directing his newly formed band through a varied program of original material. Al Ashley has managed to meld the individual talents of relative newcomers Rick Stone and Oliver Von Esson with the seasoned sound of the mature master Dave Liebman into a truly cohesive unit. ^#^ln allowing each musician the free rein to express himself musically, as well as the opportunity to contribute compositionally to the proceedings (in the tradition of great leaders like Art Blakey and Philly Joe Jones), Ashley has gotten the most out of the members of his fine group. Listeners who miss the glory days of labels like Blue Note would do well to check out this date. There's no need to pine for the music of the good old days because with Al Ashley around, 'These Are Them.' Media Contact: Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services 269 S Route 94 Warwick, NY 10990 T: 845-986-1677 / F: 845-986-1699 E-Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org.
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