Album Review: Blues and Cubes from the Jazz Professors
Album: Blues and Cubes
Artist: The Jazz Professors
Label: Flying Horse Records
Blues and Cubes, the fourth album from Americ:an jazz sextet, The Jazz Professors, is inspired by the abstract art of Pablo Picasso. Comprised of faculty members from the Jazz Studies program at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida, The Jazz Professors play an assortment of originals and covers, all in the straight-ahead jazz and hardcore blues-bop framework. Featured on the recording are the sextet’s rendition of Sidney Bechet’s and Charlie Parker’s classic tunes beside works by members of the band including saxophonist Jeff Rupert, pianist Per Danielsson, and bassist Richard Drexler.
It is a momentous outing as the band’s percussionist Marty Morell is retiring from his teaching position, and this is projected to be his final recording with the sextet. Additionally, Dan Miller, who joined the UCF faculty a few years ago, makes his recording debut with the band as their trumpet player.
Also, packed into the recording are influences of jazz music’s harbingers such as the whirling, bopping beats characteristic of Woody Herman on Rupert’s original piece “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” slinky strides in the instrumentation reminiscent of Bill Evans through Danielsson’s original contribution “Dora Maar,” and a jumping blues rhythm reflective of Charlie Parker on the band’s rendition of Parker’s hallmark arrangement “Segment.” Other notable compositions include the tango-esque strut of Rupert’s saxophone along his score “Blue Steel,” and the sultry swagger of Miller’s trumpet stirring blissful sensations through Danielsson’s serenade “View of Heaven.”
The summery ambience of Bechet’s imaginative piece “Promenade aux Champs-Élysées” has a 1930’s flapper-like sprint in the sextet’s interpretation that recalls of the buoyant vibes found in Adolph Deutsch and his orchestra’s big band romp “Down Among the Sheltering Palms,” showcased in the movie Some Like It Hot. The airy twirls of Rupert’s sax and Danielsson’s keys strewn across Rupert’s original endeavor “Promenade in Blue” project the laid-back atmosphere of a Parisian cafe circa 1950’s, as the gentle wisps of Bobby Koelble’s guitar deepen the cushiony texture and Richard Drexler’s bass add light grooves through the track.
Though the original works by Rupert, Danielsson, and Drexler were written to reflect various paintings and moods inspired by Picasso’s works, the instrumentation is pure straight-ahead jazz and hardcore blues-bop. Sometimes surges of vintage big band exuberance and nostalgic ballroom serenity can be discerned, though the recording reams of contemporary jazz.
Jeff Rupert – saxophone
Dan Miller – trumpet
Per Danielsson – piano
Bobby Koelble – guitar
Richard Drexler – bass
Marty Morell – percussion