Michael Feinberg : Hard Times Review
Michael Feinberg is back with his eighth album as a leader called Hard Times. The bassist and composer is joined by Godwin Louis on alto saxophone; Noah Preminger on tenor saxophone; Billy Buss on trumpet; Orrin Evans on piano; Leo Genovese on synth, keyboards, organ; Jeff Tain Watts on drums; and Gabriel Globus-Hoenish on percussion. In addition, trumpeter Randy Brecker makes a guest appearance on track nine. The set is comprised of Feinberg originals and four covers.
Miles Davis’ “Nardis” has a great bass line and groove from Watts’ drum set. The color and mood are a fresh approach to the standard of the modern jazz repertoire. The arrangement has multiple feels and keeps things interesting. Evans’ piano playing has exciting colors, and Buss and Preminger both play the melody and counterpoint with authority. Both Evans and Buss develop compelling solos that dig into the feels and harmonic structures. This is the album’s highlight and a successful mix of today’s music with the jazz language.
“Monkeys Never Cramp” features a guest appearance from Randy Brecker. The opening is a group improvisation over a catchy groove with slight New Orleans flavor and synths. The melody has a relaxed flow to allow space for the rhythm section to build the groove. Genovese’s synth solo is a powerful musical statement and adds a new color to the flow. Next, Brecker’s solo digs into the rhythm as his warm tone builds with excitement. Finally, the outro again returns to a group improvisation between the horns and synth, which is a satisfying conclusion to another high point on the album.
Michael Feinberg continues to show his diversity and musicality with his eighth album, Hard Times. The set has an enjoyable flow of arrangements and originals, and the playing is diverse and impassioned. There is a very satisfying balance of modern jazz, straight-ahead jazz, and today’s music, all combined effortlessly by this talented ensemble.
October 22, 2021
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