|frank rosaly's green and gold - photo: kate joyce|
nick mazzarella - alto saxophone
tomeka reid - cello
anton hatwich - bass
frank rosaly - drums
after rediscovering the music of prince lasha and sonny simmons, i became obsessed with their music (both separately and during their collaborations). i decided to transcribe the music from their collaborative years together, specifically focusing on the records the cry and firebirds.
with such a collective of unique voices, we are attempting to play this music, evoking the spirit of the original music while respecting it enough not to simply revive or recreate it. as the group continues to explore these albums, we hope to infuse our own ideas and sound into the great body of material given to us by prince lasha and sonny simmons.
click HERE for Howard Reich's Review of our Hyde Park Jazz Festival performance, or read below:
5 p.m.: Frank Rosaly's Green and Gold in the Performance Penthouse at the University of Chicago's Logan Center for the Arts. Drummer Rosaly leads one of his most attractive and promising ventures, an unconventional ensemble devoted to exploring the nearly forgotten repertoire of Prince Lasha and Sonny Simmons. Driven by Rosaly's light, lithe and dexterous approach to the drums, the band captures much of the flavor of the 1960s jazz avant-garde without sounding quaint or nostalgic. The nimble front-line work of saxophonist-flutist Cameron Pfiffner and alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella is central to this venture, Pfiffner's ultra-dry tone counterbalanced by Mazzarella's uncommonly lustrous sound. The sinewy quality of their unison passages finds empathetic support from Tomeka Reid's warm timbre on cello, Anton Hatwich's spry bass lines and, of course, Rosaly's hyper-sensitive, hyper-active drum work. There's no mistaking the potential of this project.
click HERE for a recent preview of our first performance at the skylark in chicago.
click HERE for a a review of our most recent concert at the hideout in chicago, or read below:
The list of local bands drummer Frank Rosaly has contributed to over the past decade is quite long, and there’s a reason he always gets the first call. He can play almost anything, but his goal always seems to be playing the right thing. Rosaly is the consummate listener, and more than any other drummer in town he knows how to make his bandmates sound better. Wednesday’s show at the Hideout was a chance to see him lead two bands of his own, a role you might expect such a deferential musician to be uncomfortable in.
Opening was Rosaly’s Green and Gold, a project devoted to the '60s free jazz compositions of Prince Lasha and Sonny Simmons. These songs have the fire of Ornette Coleman’s classic Atlantic recordings (although they lack the spark of genius and timelessness heard on albums like Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come). But Rosaly’s arrangements are tight and show a passion for these songs that his talented band obviously shares.
Opener “Congo Call” showcased cellist Tomeka Reid and bassist Anton Hatwich, who locked in on a hypnotic doubled bassline. Their low end interplay was engaging throughout. After two tunes from The Cry, vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz (whose approach to the instrument has made him a critic’s darling) joined for a few songs from Firebirds. Adasiewicz has an uncanny ability to add both melodic rhythm with his mallets and texture with long crying notes played with a bow, and the band settled in with noticeable smiles. Saxophonist Nick Mazzarella’s screaming solo in the Sonny Simmons role on the final song was the highlight of the night, and led nicely into a Rosaly solo that had the pleasant, relaxed sound of someone who has stayed up nights with this music.
A band Rosaly originally formed to compose tunes for a documentary film, Cicada Music, played next. The band's sound has expanded since then, and has become a showcase for a variety of compositions featuring unique instrumentation. At times, Rosaly sat back and listened to his bandmates with his eyes closed. When he did play, he played with his entire body, at one point knocking a cymbal off the stage without even noticing. The cymbal was eventually returned by an audience member, and Rosaly immediately summoned some excellent otherworldly sounds as he bent it nearly to the point of breaking with his bare hands.
Reedists Keefe Jackson, James Falzone, and Jason Stein (who will be at the Hideout next Wednesday with his own band) occasionally all played clarinets, and bass clarinet and contrabass saxophone were prominent as well. This music seems to be more about the texture of the sound itself when compared to the fiery blowing on the Lasha/Simmons material, but the sound was gorgeous.