Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Tim Armacost: A Stranger in Paradise [From the Archives]

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Tim has a rather deliberate way with the beat, staying clear of relentless sixteenth notes and using his middleweight tone [think Hank Mobley’s tone] to sit squarely on what the other musicians are doing.”
- Richard Cook and Brian Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD

“If you like your music original, uncompromised, melodic, and rhythmically advanced, then by all means get this CD [referring to Tim’s CD The Wishing Well]. My early impressions of Tim Armacost as an original, searching improviser … are reinforced by this release which documents him as having grown a great deal, and establishes him as a leader ….
- Mel Martin, Jazz critic

“Armacost, the scintillatingly musical 35-year-old saxophonist-composer-bandleader who has deep roots in Jazz’s past yet has his eye and ear upon Jazz’s future, has expanded his Jazz vocabulary via fresh approaches to harmony.”
- Zan Stewart, Jazz critic

The “stranger” in the above title refers to the fact that until I heard a radio broadcast of him with the famed Metropole Orchestra of The Netherlands, I didn’t know anything about the music of tenor and soprano saxophonist, Tim Armacost.

The “paradise” portion of the subheading to this piece is best explained by Tim in a quotation drawn from his website:

“Finally, I had the great pleasure to record a CD with Hilversum’s Metropole Orchestra a little over a year ago … [approximately November 2001 at the time of this writing]. We recorded four of my compositions, arranged for a full band and thirty-five strings by Jim McNeely and Mike Abene, and an extended four part work by Jim, called 23/67, which is an outrageous piece of writing. Bill Dobbins conducted, and it was an inspired and inspiring week for me.”

Like his contemporaries, Ralph Bowen, Larry Schneider, Ralph Moore and Don Braden, Tim plays in a style very much influenced by John Coltrane and Michael Brecker, but without carrying it to an extremes.

He does not dwell on high note screeches or favor runs of chromatic scales and other technical flights-of fantasy.

His tone, while reminiscent of the late, Hank Mobley’s is fuller and richer than Hank’s. His solos are melodically-oriented and played with a rock-solid sense of time.

Frankly, I found his performance with the Metropole Orchestra to be quite a revelation; it’s always pleasant to come across a new voice that “speaks to you.”

With the assistance of the crackerjack graphics team at CerraJazz LTD, the editorial staff at JazzProfiles has put together two videos built around themes that incorporate images related to two of the original compositions that Tim performed with The Metropole.

The first of these is Black Sand Beach. It was arranged for the date by the superbly talented, Mike Abene. Mike has been writing for big bands for many years, but this chart sounds sparkling, fresh and full of excitement.

The title of the audio track for the second video is Wishing Well. Following Tim’s solo and that of Hans Vroman's, the orchestra’s pianist, listen to how brilliantly Jim McNeely frames the counter melodies between brass and strings from 5:23 – 6:34 minutes before Tim comes back in at the bridge. Jim arrangement really highlights the power and the majesty of The Metropole Orchestra.  Is it any wonder that Tim was “inspired” by working with this brilliant ensemble?

If you visit Tim’s website via this link, you can listen to Pull, another of the tracks from the concert with the Metropole Orkest, as well as, other selections from his small group recordings.

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