+ Bunky Green, Jason Moran, Francois Moutin, Jack
Auf APEX treffen 2 Giganten des Alt-Saxophones aufeinander: der 39-jährige hoch gelobte Rudresh Mahanthappa trifft auf den 75-jährigen stilbildenden Veteranen Bunky Green, dessen Karriere nicht immer gradlinig verlief und der vor allem durch sein Comeback-Album "Another Place" im Jahr 2005 endlich die verdiente Aufmerksamkeit bekam.
Begleitet von einer Allstar-Band mit Drummer Jack deJohnette und Pianist Jason Moran entfachen die beiden Altisten ein wahres Feuerwerk. Denn beide arbeiten mit einem ähnlichen beißenden Ton, erfreuen sich an überraschenden harmonischen Wendungen und glänzen durch rhythmische Finesse. Getragen von der Spielfreude ihrer kongenialen Begleiter gelingt die beiden Saxophonisten den Brückenschlag vom Hard-Bop der 60er Jahre in die heutige Zeit und so beweisen sie nachdrücklich, warum Größen wie Steve Coleman, Greg Osby oder Gary Thomas zu ihren Fans gehören.
Apex is a blazing collaboration between alto saxophonists Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green that puts on display a fifty-year continuum of state-of-the-art saxophone playing. Featuring the all-star band of Jason Moran on piano, François Moutin on bass and switching off on drums, the dynamic Damion Reid and the legendary Jack DeJohnette, Apex shines a much-deserved spotlight on Bunky Green, a hugely influential but under-recognized original in jazz.
As Mahanthappa tells it, “I first heard about Bunky from the late great saxophone teacher Joe Viola when I was a student at Berklee in the early 90s. Joe heard me warming up once and recommended that I check Bunky out as he thought that my approach was on track to being something similar to his. He loaned me Bunky’s record Places We’ve Never Been (Vanguard) which totally knocked me out!” Mahanthappa sought Green out and sent him a tape of his playing to which Green responded by providing some encouraging feedback, leading to a long friendship. Still, the two never got a chance to play together until 2008 during a jam session at the Jazz Baltica Festival. Inspired by that performance, Mahanthappa featured Green in his appearance at the 2009 Made In Chicago Festival. Soon thereafter, Rudresh made plans to record with Bunky, enlisting his regular bassist François Moutin and the dynamic young drummer Damion Reid. Jason Moran, who had played on Green’s CD Another Place (Label Bleu), also quickly signed on. The lineup was set when Mahanthappa told Jack DeJohnette – in whose band Rudresh plays – about the recording. DeJohnette, who had been a huge fan of Bunky’s from back when he was a young drummer coming up in Chicago, also clamored to play on the session.
One can immediately see why Mahanthappa was drawn to Green’s playing: The two share a similar biting tone, harmonic sophistication, a well-articulated rapid fire attack, and a certain rhythmic elasticity. Perhaps what’s most amazing about Green is that such modern playing is coming from a 75 year old. The album features originals by both Mahanthappa and Green specifically created for this collaboration. The compositions highlight a collective vision of using traditional forms as a launching point for contemporary improvisation and interaction at its highest level.
On Apex, Bunky Green and Rudresh Mahanthappa look back over the last fifty years of jazz saxophone playing and together chart its course into the future.
"Eine Sammlung eloquenter Bandgespräche, sperrig aber mit viel kreativer Substanz." (stereoplay, 12 / 2010)
“Forming this inter-generational alto confab was a great move by both participants. Thirty-something fire-breather Mahanthappa is a dude who likes to scorch everything around him, and under-heralded vet Green has no problem turning lyricism into kinetics. They’ve definitely caught the spirit on the new Apex, a record that storms in several different ways while wafting strains of South Indian music into the mix. Best of all: the leaders give their rhythm section enough elbow room to be equal partners. Don’t be shocked to see this team do a land-grab on more than a few best of 2010 lists.” (Jim Macnie, Village Voice)
“Witness Mahanthappa’s “Soft,” which becomes anything but. Despite the sinuous, seductive theme, the interpretation is volcanic, from Moutin’s aggressive introductory solo to Reid’s crackling bursts and both euphorically building sax solos. Writing credits are split evenly between the two leaders, with Mahanthappa employing his trademark blend of rhythmic complexity and South Indian harmonic inspirations. Green’s tunes are, perhaps necessarily, closer to the jazz mainstream: “Rainer and Theresia” is a melancholy waltz with a noir tinge, while “Lamenting” is an aching ballad dominated by a starkly romantic Moran solo. “Little Girl I’ll Miss You,” on which Mahanthappa is absent, contains the disc’s most singable melody—a standard that never was.” ( Shaun Brady, JazzTimes)
“Born 36 years apart, the saxophonists Mr. Mahanthappa and the elder Mr. Green, an educator as well as a player, come from different corners of improvised jazz. They found their way to each other circuitously, and it seems as if they were meant to put a band together, sharing their rapid, searching, wide-interval saxophone language.” ( Ben Ratliff, The New York Times Fall Arts Preview)
“…much of this vigorous set is full-on, restlessly rhythm-shuffling postbop, bristling with intricate themes…a scintillating encounter…”
- John Fordham, The Guardian)
“Two Jazz Greats, Tightly Bound by Chicago” (Neil Tesser, Chicago News Cooperative / The New York Times)
“Apex is an alto sax summit of huge proportions—a prodigious work of collaboration and stirring performances…the music here is [a] no-holds-barred outing between seminal artists…one of the most enjoyable recordings of 2010.” (Mark F. Turner, AllAboutJazz. com)
“…a rigorous, contemporary statement.” ( Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader)
“Snaking, swinging woodwinds echo one another on the gripping “Summit,” while raga themes run rampant throughout the animated syncopation of “Playing with Stones.” Mahanthappa is a force, blowing with ferocious power, clarity and creativity.” ( Areif Sless-Kitain, Time Out Chicago)
“Apex shows clearly what an ageless art jazz can be. Rudresh Mahanthappa is pressing 40 and Bunky Green is 75, but they are able to take their alto saxophones in a wide range of directions…The two sax players offer virtuosic play that is demanding in its speed and convincing in is conception.” (Bob Karlovits, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
“Somehow the extremely talented Rudresh Mahanthappa has found something new and miraculous to say with his horn. Blending elements of straight jazz with melodies from southern India, Mahanthappa creates an intoxicating, challenging, and beautiful synergy of past and future alto legacies.” (Stark Online)