“A swinging, bopping masterpiece” – Midwest Record

“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

Lucid Culture: Two Sides of the Verve Jazz Ensemble

The Verve Jazz Ensemble’s album “It’s About Time” does double duty as merchandise and demo reel. It’s as if to say, this is what we sound like, tight and together in the studio…and this is us playing the second set at your club on a Friday night after a few drinks. To follow this cynical thread to its logical extreme, why play familiar standards, from Miles Davis to Henry Mancini, when you could be playing your own music? Maybe because these guys – Tatum Greenblatt on trumpet and flugelhorn, Jon Blanck on tenor sax, Matt Oestreicher on piano, Chris DeAngelis on bass and Josh Feldstein on drums – have so much fun doing it.

One of the reasons why this is a fun, purist album is Blanck’s arrangements. For example, they do the album’s second track, Softly As in a Morning Sunrise, a little faster than most groups do, as a dark bolero. That’s the “album version,” the first take. There’s also a second take, which trades the band’s intense focus for a far looser but rewardingly reckless approach lit up by a febrile Blanck solo: it more than hints at what this group may have up their collective sleeves.

Another cool arrangement is their take of Big Swing Face, the horns doing a boisterous approximation of the Buddy Rich big band version against Oestreicher’s glistening neon resonance. The album ends with a second take of that one, which is a lot faster and gives Greenblatt a welcome chance to cut loose and go as high as the band does here.

Miles’ Boplicity gets a careful, judicious treatment, but Greenblatt’s second solo is less wee hours than warmly anticipatory, bringing in a vivid early morning ambience. They do Henry Mancini’s The Days of Wine and Roses as a piano/bass/drums trio, swinging up to a succinct, ringing Oestreicher solo and eventually a clever series of false endings. Duke Jordan’s Jordu gives them a chance to work jaunty syncopation against a tireless bass walk. There are also two versions of Tadd Dameron’s Lady Bird: the first with a lustrous sheen from the horns and a matter-of-fact swing, the second a looser, more relaxed, nocturnal take with a sinuous DeAngelis solo.

August 29, 2013 Posted by delarue

Happy Birthday Jon Blanck / WNHU On-Air Interview with Josh Feldstein

Happy birthday, Jon. On Tuesday, Aug 27th, for Jon Blanck’s BD, WNHU FM’s Gary Grippo played several VJE tunes featuring Jon’s amazing tenor sax. Josh Feldstein was listening live, and called Gary on the air, which turned into a terrific off-the cuff live interview on the radio between Josh and Gary for more than 5 minutes…lots of fun. Thanks so much Gary, and thanks to all of the VJE’s fans at WNHU 88.7 FM in New Haven, CT. Keep up the great jazz, brother!

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In the Studio…Our Next Album Now Underway

The Ensemble heads to the studio on August 20th to begin recording several exciting new tracks for our next album! Then, in November, we’ll have our next session in the studio, this time joined by our special guest artist, renowned guitarist Peter Bernstein. Peter will join forces with the Verve Jazz Ensemble on our upcoming CD, featured on three fabulous tunes, “Flor de Lis,” a beautiful Brazilian piece arranged by VJE trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt, a wonderful new arrangement by Matt Oestreicher of “My One and Only Love,” and a tremendous bebop burner arrangement of “You and The Night and The Music.”

The album will be completed in December, and will include several fabulous new arrangements as well as an original composition by VJE leader Josh Feldstein and tenor saxophonist Jon Blanck. Look for the VJE’s next album early in 2014!

“Hip, Finger-Snapping, and Sparks with Energy” — Jazz Weekly

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.

Review: “What Great Tunes!”

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/cdreviews.htm