On February 17th, Boston’s Creative Nation Music will begin the celebration of its 5th anniversary with the release of two new recordings, Garrison Fewell‘s Variable Density Sound Orchestra (CNM 014) and The Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra‘s Muse (CNM 015). This is Fewell’s second release for the label, following 2008’s The Lady of Khartoum (CNM 010) with fellow guitarist Eric Hofbauer, and the label debut of Ms. Inserto’s longstanding 17-piece ensemble featuring special guest, George Garzone. Founded in early 2004, Creative Nation Music is a respected outlet for new releases from the Boston jazz scene’s most distinctive musical personalities.
Variable Density Sound Orchestra is the self-titled debut of Fewell’s newest working ensemble featuring Hofbauer (guitars and percussion), Roy Campbell (trumpet, flugelhorn, flute and percussion), Achille Succi (bass clarinet and alto saxophone), John Voigt (bass), Miki Matsuki (drums) and Alex Fewell (percussion). As the band’s name implies, its original music, composed and conceived by Fewell, explores a wide range of textures and musical interactions. “The goal,” he explains, “is to create balance, allowing neither soloists, collective instant composing, or pre-composed material to dominate too long.”
“Guitarist Garrison Fewell has never stopped moving forward on his musical journey from accomplished post-bop guitarist to free-jazz explorer,” writes music journalist Ed Hazell in the liner notes. “Here, on his most fully realized and personal recording in the free jazz idiom to date, you can still hear the thoughtfulness, tenderness, and intimacy; careful listening; and the rigorous construction of line and feel for melody that have marked all his albums. The Variable Density Sound Orchestra is a group well suited to realizing Garrison’s concepts and compositions.”
Fewell’s distinguished career as a performer and educator spans more than 30 years. He has toured all around the world, including Africa, Canada, the Carribbean, Europe, South America and the United States. His groups have featured such prominent musicians as Cameron Brown, George Cables, Billy Hart, Fred Hersch, Khan Jamal, Charlie Kohlhase, Cecil McBee, John Tchicai and Matt Wilson among many others. Also an internationally respected jazz educator, Fewell has been a Professor at Boston’s Berklee College of Music since 1977, given clinics at more than 40 European conservatories, written lessons for various guitar magazines and authored three jazz textbooks, including his latest, Jazz Improvisation For Guitar: A Melodic Approach (Berklee Press).
Muse is the follow-up to The Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra’s self-released 2006 debut, Clairvoyance, which featured special guests Garzone and Ms. Inserto’s teacher and mentor, Bob Brookmeyer. “There’s an energetic creative force on the horizon named Ayn Inserto, and based on this debut album, she’s Maria Schneider on steroids,” wrote reviewer Harvey Siders in JazzTimes. Critics called it an “auspicious maiden voyage” (Jack Bowers, Cadence) and the music “new and unconventional, striking a different chord than what one usually expects from a big band project” (Edward Blanco, AllAboutJazz.com).
This latest release, built around the theme of celebrating those who inspired her, features a mix of commissioned works, arrangements of three Garzone pieces and original compositions honoring Brookmeyer, Frank Foster and Steve Lacy among others. “Her genius is that while her music is harmonically sophisticated, there is a sweet, flowing energy that makes it accessible and enjoyable for any palette,” writes Garzone in the liner notes. “You can feel the personal touch in each piece ranging in emotions from remembrance to merriment, and hear the gratitude she has to each influence in her life.”
Ms. Inserto founded her ensemble, which features both Boston and New York-based musicians, in 2001 after receiving her Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies and Composition from New England Conservatory. The group has since performed at venues such as The Berklee Performance Center and Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. A faculty member at both Berklee College of Music and Longy School of Music in Boston, Ms. Inserto has been commissioned by IAJE/ASCAP, California State East Bay and the Harvard University Jazz Band among others, and her music has been performed by a variety of ensembles at conferences, festivals and universities across Italy and North America.