� � "Eclectic Earwig Reviews Music and More for You!" � � � � � � � �

Eclectic Earwig Reviews

New Directions, New Directions (60:53); Blue Note 22978, 2000
Blue Note Records
304 Park Avenue South, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10010
Phone: 212-253-3000
E-mail: dlmedia@earthlink.net
Cyberhome: www.bluenote.com

These four cutting-edge players did some recent touring under the 
name New Directions. Their self-titled studio debut consists mainly 
of short and to-the-point reworkings of Blue Note classics. 
Altoist/leader Greg Osby remarks that the group limited itself 
primarily to the boogaloo and funk side of Blue Note, feeling that 
the more cerebral and avant-garde stuff was too sacred to touch. Yet 
in the hands of players like these, boogaloo and funk becomes 
cerebral and avant-garde in exciting, unexpected ways. A lot of the 
credit for that should be given to bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer 
Nasheet Waits, neither of whom are officially part of New Directions, 
although they appear throughout the CD as a sort of house rhythm 
	Arranging duties on the Blue Note tunes are split among the 
band members: pianist Jason Moran sprinkles his magic on four of 
them; tenorist Mark Shim tackles two; Osby and vibist Stefon Harris 
each take on one. In addition, Osby, Moran, and Harris each 
contribute an original. Harris's and Moran's are melancholy yet 
radically contrasting ballads, while Osby's "20 Questions" closes the 
record swinging, preceded by an amusing false start. The Blue Note 
covers, despite substantial reworking, are entirely recognizable. 
Indeed, the emphasis seems to be on accessibility, not musical whimsy 
at the expense of the tune - although Moran's reharmonization of 
Horace Silver's "Song for My Father" is a little hard on the ears at 
first. Moran stretches with the most success on "Tom Thumb," a Wayne 
Shorter piece with the kind of melody Austin Powers could get down to.
	The full ensemble is featured on most of the tracks, with 
solos apportioned carefully and creatively - often only two per track 
- so as to avoid repetition and monotony. Harris and Moran are paired 
for a haunting duet on Sam Rivers's "Beatrice" and Moran is featured 
in trio format for his "Commentary on Electrical Switches," a tribute 
to the late Jaki Byard. Mark Shim's presence throughout is 
understated yet memorable, his tenor sound so big and low that it 
could easily be mistaken at times for a baritone.
	In sum, the disc is full of the kind of hip, harmonically 
open, angular yet inviting improvisation one would expect from Osby 
and crew. A future live album would be a good idea, though - these 
players are at their best when they have more room to stretch. That 
said, New Directions presages very fine things to come from 
Moran, Harris, and Shim, whose careers as leaders have only just 
~David R. Adler, 2/12/00

1. Theme from Blow Up
2. The Sidewinder
3. Ping Pong 
4. Beatrice
5. No Room for Squares
6. Song for My Father
7. Tom Thumb 
8. Commentary on Electrical Switches
9. Big Bertha
10. Recordame
11. Song of the Whispering Banshee
12. False Start
13. 20 Questions.

Greg Osby, alto sax;
Mark Shim, tenor sax;
Stefon Harris, vibes;
Jason Moran, piano;
Tarus Mateen, bass;
Nasheet Waits, drums

To purchase this recording and get more info, soundclips, etc.


OR . . .

Please visit my BUY IT E.E.R. NOW INDEX PAGE
Please try my brand spankin' new

buyer's guide to recommended music.

OR ...
go to my LINKS page and find the vendors' section.
Happy hunting!

Back to MAIN REVIEW list
Back to MEN list
Back to LADIES list
Get outta here and go HOME