“The latest release from the Verve Jazz Ensemble is one of this year’s best jazz albums to date. This kind of jazz pays striking tribute to the music of Duke Ellington’s “Take The A Train,” a silent moment to feel the simply joys of life. But wait my good friends, this is not for the initiate. This is sweet jazz for the aficionados. So, let’s talk about the wonderful, and at times brilliant performances of these musicians. Trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt is the hero here, followed with gratitude for Peter Bernstein (guest guitarist), along with the beautiful synergy of Jon Blanck (tenor sax), Matt Oestreicher (piano), Elias Bailey (bass), Josh Feldstein (drums), Chris Deangelis (bass), and Steve Einerson (piano). The five outstanding performances include “Jitterbug Waltz,” “You And The Night And The Music,” “My One And Only Love,” “Flor De Lis,” and “East End Avenue.” Everywhere on this album there are genuine pearls of the American jazz book with invocations and eulogies reminiscent of some of jazz great masters. East End Sojourn is an award-winning jazz album of contemporary beauty and poetic artistry.”
“In April of 2013, the Verve Jazz Ensemble released their first album It’s About Time (2012) to rave reviews from critics and jazz lovers everywhere. Exactly one year later, the group follows up on their amazing debut by unveiling East End Sojourn, an exciting second effort featuring new creative arrangements, more reimagined standards, a couple of original statements and the inclusion of guitarist luminary Peter Bernstein as special guest. The bop and post-bop grooves of the first recording are very much in play here with Jonathan Blanck’s sizzling tenor, Tatum Greenblatt’s soaring trumpet, and a tight rhythm section—all providing a swinging sound and a wish that this short sojourn, had encompassed more time.
“Old style swing jazz kicks off the music with a Blanck arrangement of Horace Silver’s “Sister Sadie” featuring Greenblatt and Blanck exchanging solo salvos and continues on the trumpeter’s arrangement of—and extended solo work on—the classic Fats Waller composition “Jitterbug Waltz,” ably accompanied by pianist Matt Oestreicher. Guitarist Bernstein appears on three consecutive tracks with the first being, “You And The Night And The Music,” followed by the Guy Wood standard “My One And Only Love,” the only balladic piece of the set.
“Venturing into Latin jazz for the very first time, the group delivers a spirited rendition of Brazilian singer Djavan’s “Flor de Lis” led by the guitarist and drummer Josh Feldstein’s light samba beats making this taste of Brazil quite engaging. Feldstein’s up beat swinging “East End Avenue” is the first of the two originals with the trumpeter’s muted horn- heavy “Dilly Dally Doodle,” serving as the finale but, not before showcasing some of Elias Bailey’s sharp bass line and pianist Steve Einerson’s fine solo work.
“The Count Basie staple “Corner Pocket” gets a fresh new treatment from Blanck’s arrangement of the Freddie Green classic featuring light cymbal accents from the drummer, more from Einerson and the horn section. What happens when you merge elements of the Horace Silver standard “Strollin'” with Neil Hefti’s “Cute”? The answer of course? A wonderful sampling of two classics on the appropriately titled “Strollin'” Meets Cute,” highlighting excellent bass phrasings from Chris DeAngelis in support of the two leaders—and arrangers of the hybrid piece—drummer Feldstein and pianist Oestreicher.
“Keeping faith with the traditional and contemporary side of jazz, East End Sojourn delivers a fair share of hard-driving swing and bop which, is something the dynamic Verve Jazz Ensemble has become accustomed to doing so well.”
“After hitting us with an auspicious debut last year and enjoying all the praise that came their way, the crew comes back not holding anything back and the music is hotter with the ensuing praise sure to be higher. Tearing it up like daddios without being hipsters, this is a swinging, bopping masterpiece that gets the blood boiling as opposed to just flowing. A real piece of mainstream paradise, this is smoking stuff that is a winner throughout. Check it out.”
– MIDWEST RECORD
Volume 38/Number 159, April 8, 2014
The Verve Jazz Ensemble is a classic quintet made up of Tatum Greenblatt/tp-fh, Jon Blanck/ts, Matt Oestreicher/p, Chris DeAngelis/b and Josh Feldstein. Greenblatt’s got a clean and sweet Kenny Dorham-styled horn, while Blanck’s earthy tenor is right up there in the Benny Golson red meat variety. The band goes through crisp and pressed standards like “Lady Bird” and “Jordu” that will get you snapping your fingers within 4 bars. A hip take of “Big Swing Face” sparks with energy, while “Boplicity” and “Days of Wine and Roses” has the rhythm team showing some great gear changing.
The Verve Jazz Ensemble is not affiliated in any way with Verve Records and that may not be a good thing for the label. With their self-produced release It’s About Time the label may want to listen and think seriously adding them to their artist base.
This welcome recording shows me that a jazz group can still make an impact playing straight ahead bop tunes and acclaimed standards. It’s really a simple concept, right? But it’s rather odd that it’s done so rarely these days. The Verve Jazz Ensemble is an East Coast quintet which has been together since 2008. Despite the advantage of playing together for a solid period of time, this is their debut disc. And what great tunes they’ve chosen! The session gets underway with Tadd Dameron’s classic “Lady Bird” and continues with a bona-fide jam session favorite, “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise.” Then, the big surprise of the set — “Big Swing Face.” It’s a tune that some may remember from a Buddy Rich big band session. And it was written by Bill Potts, a very underrated big band leader and arranger out of Washington, D. C. Pared down to a ripping quintet version, it’s an album highlight. Next comes “Boplicity,” an etched-in-marble classic from the Miles Davis-Gil Evans “Birth of the Cool” era. It’s played in a rather spare, slower than usual fashion that shows us that “Boplicity” is perhaps a “prettier” piece than we ever realized. “The Days of Wine and Roses” recalls Oscar Peterson’s version. It’s a swinging feature for pianist Matt Oestreicher. Duke Jordan’s “Jordu” is a winning set closer and a great vehicle for improvisation. If this set reflects this group’s book, I’d like to sample additional chapters.
Posted by the Jazz Society of Oregon at: http://www.jsojazzscene.org/
HillRag.com: Formed in 2006 by drummer Josh Feldstein, the Verve Jazz Ensemble features trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt, pianist Matt Oestreicher, tenor saxophonist Jon Blanck and bassist Chris DeAngelis. This debut album offers Bebop standards such “Lady Bird,” “Boplicity” and “Jordu”; the big band reduction of “Big Swing Face”; two favorite classics of Henry Mancini’s “The Days of Wine and Roses” and Oscar Hammerstein’s “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise.” The music is full of energy and vitality, both harmonically and melodically, resulting in a rich, flavorful, hypnotic jazz atmosphere that comes alive with the tenor saxophone and trumpet throughout the entire performances. One gets the feeling of being in a big, illustrious concert hall. The tender melody of “The Days of Wine and Roses” offers a perfect opportunity to showcase Mr. DeAngelis’ very sensitive introductory solo as well Mr Oestreicher’s inspired playing.
Originally posted at: http://www.capitalcommunitynews.com/content/jazz-project-4
In 2006 drummer Josh Feldstein established the Verve Jazz Ensemble, a contemporary jazz group playing standards and straight ahead material in the finest venues throughout the Connecticut area without having an album to their credit until this appropriately-titled recording debut It’s About Time. On tap are an array of jazz standards featuring new arrangements and dynamic interpretations of music from the likes of Tad Dameron,Miles Davis, Henry Mancini and Oscar Hammerstein. From bebop rhythms to sweet melodic ballads and swinging romps forged with exciting solo statements, the Verve Jazz Ensemble delivers quite an attention-grabbing first effort drawing inspiration for an encore performance.
VERVE JAZZ ENSEMBLE / It’s About Time: Here’s a bunch of young lions that have put in their time and are now serving up totally awesome results. They aren’t in the tradition, they are right in the pocket. Showing how retro can be a very good thing when you can’t improve on perfection, this sounds like those Jai & Kai dates you found cleaning out your grandparents basement that had you wondering how they were once so hip and you never knew it. Smoking, contemporary mainstream jazz that is just so right you almost won’t be able to stand it—in a good way. Hot stuff that really delivers.
Thank you to the Midwest Record from the Verve Jazz Ensemble.
Here’s what the folks at WTJU in Charlottesville, VA had to say about VJE:
…The young and the talented are presented with all their musical chops. Tatum Greenblatt, trumpet and flugelhorn; Jon Blanck, tenor; Matt Oestreicher, piano; Chris DeAngelis, bass; Josh Feldstein, drums. Yes, we have heard these tunes many times, but the quintet does fine work– check out Big Swing Face, 1st take and the alternate. Applause for the young!