THE TERRY GORDON QUINTET
Nippertown review of Tomorrow Calling
By J Hunter, September 2014
The word is we’re going to have a new Arch Stanton Quartet release to play with soon, and that makes me very happy. But late last year, ASQ horn man Terry Gordon reminded us that he’s been doing this “group thing” for quite some time! Yup, Gordon put his hard-bopping electric band back together, and hearing him dance and dice with saxman Eric Walentowicz again is simply awesome. The strutting opener “Looking In,” the borderline-insane “Concatenated Cogency” and the lovely ballad “I Remember Patti” are all great, but the cherry on top of the cake? Michael-Louis Smith’s tremendous guitar work gives Tomorrow Calling three great voices to draw you in and keep you cross-eyed. So nice!
International Trumpet Guild Journal review of Tomorrow Calling
By Jeremy Brekke, January 2014
Tomorrow Calling is the fourth release for this quintet led by trumpeter Terry Gordon. This release explores original music of various forms composed by members of the group. Grace, Tomorrow Calling, and Be Right Back (Return Imminent) by Gordon, as well as The Sound by saxophonist Eric Walentowicz deliver catchy melodies that leave the listener humming them after hearing them for the first time. Analogue is a great funk tune by bassist Bill Lawrence, and drummer Matthew Maguire contributes a wonderful ballad, I Remember Patti. Gordon’s Concatenated Cogency is a favorite that begins with a saxophone/trumpet duet and develops with intriguing rhythmic and harmonic alterations with overlapping solos. The band sounds tight and relaxed with a great rapport that has developed since the band’s first release in 1996. With a piano-less group, the guitar comping of Michael-Louis Smith is noteworthy, and the solid collaboration of bassist Lawrence and drummer Maguire supports the solos very well. Long, legato lines are pronounced in Gordon’s trumpet solos and Walentowicz delivers a great tenor and soprano saxophone sound. Tomorrow Calling is a rich and innovative release that melds the sounds of tradition and creativity.
Metroland review of Tomorrow Calling
By Jeff Nania, June 13, 2013
Tomorrow Calling is the Terry Gordon Quintet’s fourth release overall and the second on WEPA records. This group’s strengths are many, from the proven writing skills of Gordon and saxophonist Eric Walentowicz, to the always-fiery approach of guitarist Michael-Louis Smith.
The disc opens with a groove-based tune called “Looking In” that starts with bass and drums until the guitar, trumpet, and soprano all stew on a dissonant sub-melody before the real magic happens. It would be hard to find a more steadfast heartbeat than that provided by drummer Matthew Maguire and bassist Bill Lawrence, as demonstrated throughout the album, but especially with the start-and-stop drum groove and fretless bass riff on “Analogue,” which also features a fluid funky bass solo from Lawrence.
The title track starts off with a cool counterpoint between Gordon and Walentowicz before making way to a subdued melody that occurs only at the beginning of the tune. It starts in the bass and extends into the trumpet before breaking into the main theme that carries on throughout the tune and winds up closing it down too. This theme is punctuated by Smith’s dissonant rhythmic slashes that propel the tune forward and really give it a futuristic, retro-television-spy-show feel.
This album is packed full of diverse sounds from deep groove-based funk to near-free jazz (“Concatenated Cogency”) and even a beautiful samba called “The Sound,” which is dedicated to the saxophonist who also went by that name—Stan Getz. And then there is Gordon’s “Be Right Back (Return Imminent)” that starts off sounding like a pair of windshield wipers on a rainy day and is juxtaposed with a quick, dissonant swing melody that switches back and forth for the solos.
The distinctive package design by Vincent Pascuzzo also serves to demonstrate what this material is all about—searching for the next frontier. Tomorrow Calling.
All About Jazz review of Contemplations
By J. Robert Bragonier, October 4, 2003
The Terry Gordon Quintet has made music as a group for more than a decade, and it shows: their ensemble is tight and intuitive, their soloing bright and confident, and their improvisation brash and innovative. Contemplations (2002) is their second CD; their first, Wakeup Call, was released in 1996.
Many of these nine originals (seven by Gordon and two by Walentowicz) are designed to stretch the envelope: the more conventional are bop-oriented mainstream interspersed with Latin jazz and funk; the more adventuresome are unabashedly and unapologetically rock-strewn and avant-garde. “Contemplations” is an aptly titled minor key Latin exploration, pensive and melancholic, while “Fish Out of Water” is a quirky, infectious blues, with strong trumpet and Scofield-like guitar solos. The composer Walentowicz achieves an oboe-like sound from his soprano; at times, the group has almost a chamber quality. “Persistence” is funk with a vengeance; Tibbits’ guitar solo is rock candy, Gordon’s trumpet is crisp but full-bodied, and Rafalak’s bass solo crackles with energy and electricity.
The noteworthy flute playing of Walentowicz, plus solos all around, constitute “Watching the Storm Go By”; the changes are Latin spun sugar, sweet and simple but without a lot of nutritive value. “Structural One-ness,” on the other hand, is tart and fusiony, more than 13 minutes on a miniscule theme, nagging, sort of like a musical toothache. Walentowicz’s “Anxious Moments,” titularly more frenetic, is actually more ordered, an interesting hard-bop song form built on what sound like fragments of whole-tone scale.
Another ballad, “1-4-3,” features Gordon on fluegelhorn, as did “Contemplations,” and provides an emotionally rich change of pace. But not for long. “Quest for Sanity,” an apparently unsuccessful search*, is nearly 11 ½ minutes of ordered chaos, unstructured and avant-garde, although the piece maintains a driving, rhythmic center throughout much of it. The eclectic and uneven ride ends, unruffled by a uniquely inspired drum solo, on a decidedly more contemplative note with the dreamy, slow ballad, “Flowers That Beckon.”
* Postscript: I gave Contemplations one more spin to detect any hint of sanity appearing near the end, but alas! There was none to be had…
Albany Jazz review of Homeward Bound
By J Hunter
You can wear your hair the same way you did in high school. After all, it’s a free country (and that’s the only explanation for why mullets still roam the land). You can listen to the same music, wear the same clothes, think the same thoughts, do the same things the same way… and the world will blithely ignore you and just keep on keeping on. Change happens. That’s a fact. And that fact does not sit well with some people. Ask Bob Dylan. Ask Miles Davis. And, on a local level, ask Terry Gordon.
The Terry Gordon Quintet has just released its first disc in three years, Homeward Bound. This should be a cause for celebration; it’s a great date filled with solid performances and inspired compositions. Moreover, it expands on themes and styles heard on their last effort, Contemplations (Flying Gurnard Records, 2003). And yet, the liner notes to Homeward Bound seem to be designed to cushion a blow.
Accompanied by a wistful poem by Phoebe Cary, the notes tell us that Homeward Bound “offers nine new compositions that move (the TGQ) ever-so-slightly from its familiar ‘outside’ perch and closer to convention.” We read that the band is on a “journey” that is “richly creative and well worth continuing.” Sounds innocuous, right? Maybe to you and me, but to some who have followed the Gordon Quintet since its early days in the 90’s, the words sound like spin, and the “ever-so-slight” course-change looks like surrender and betrayal. If you’re of that mind, I have three words for you: Take. A. Breath.
When I reviewed Contemplations, I felt one change could have turned a good disc into a really good disc. I felt that way every time Gordon switched out the guitar chair, leaving behind the Mike Stern heaviness of Gordon Tibbits for the chameleon-like flexibility of George Muscatello. (Tibbits has been off the TGQ masthead for some time, though he does have a writing credit here.) Even though Gordon splits the guitar duties here between three players – Muscatello plays on five cuts, while Joe Finn and John Dworkin split the remaining four – there is no loss of momentum, because they each have a unique aesthetic that helps take the music to the next level.
I could listen to Finn all day, any day, but hearing him in a larger unit – and in a setting where he is not the primary focus – gives me even more respect for Finn’s abilities. His solid-body attack adds color and buoyancy to the disc-opening title track, and he infuses bassist Bill Lawrence’s “The Lonesome Caballero” with a flamenco sensibility that sucks us deeper into this fast-paced jazz Spaghetti Western. Dworkin punches in on the multi-time “Focus 57” and the Tibbits comp “Toys That Scatter”, though there is nothing scattered about it; reedman Eric Walentowicz’ snarling tenor sax fills wrap tightly around Gordon’s wonderfully clean solo lines. But where Tibbits would have used the Hammer of God, Dworkin uses a laser-guided scalpel to cut out a respectable (and appropriate) piece of the action.
I’ve waxed poetic about Muscatello ever since I first heard him with the Brian Patneaude Quartet. Everything I’ve seen and heard from him proves he increases the value of any musical real estate he stands on, and his work here is no exception. Muscatello is positively spooky as he creates in space on “Knot So Fast.” He gives the bluesy “Why I Fancy Nancy” an even deeper shade, and he adds a third voice to the wild conversation that is “Percival’s Disappointment.” The latter tune reminds me of Monk’s “Epistrophy”, in that it is this amazing thing that is towering over you one moment, gone like yesterday the next. Lawrence and drummer Matthew Maguire keep the proceedings from flying off into space while Muscatello and the horns keep our jaws hanging. Gordon writes the lion’s share of the tunes here, though other members get their licks in – most notably Walentowicz’ and Maguire’s hard-bopping Nick Brignola tribute, “Lick for Nick.”
There is unswerving quality and genuine maturity to Homeward Bound, and no matter what the TGQ’s base may think, that’s a good thing – a really good thing. So wear your hair however you want, but don’t pass this disc by, because it’s a blast… and not from the past.
International Trumpet Guild Journal review of Homeward Bound
By Jason Dovel
A fine disc of nine new jazz compositions, Homeward Bound is the latest release by the Terry Gordon Quintet. The disc opens with the title track, “Homeward Bound”, an original composition by Gordon. His writing is excellent, as he contrasts cascading contrapuntal lines with unison melody, creating a clever and catchy tune. In his improvised solo, Gordon uses many short, isolated motives that combine for a meaningful whole. Contrast of style and tempo is found in “The Lonesome Caballero”. After a slow, melancholic introduction by the muted trumpet, the tempo picks up as the trumpet and saxophone begin a unison melody. Finn’s excellent guitar solo sets the pace for the other improvised solos. Gordon’s capable improvisation follows, skillfully exhibiting a variety of gestures and ideas. “Lick for Nick” is a speedy tune that finds the trumpet and saxophone repeatedly transitioning from unison to harmony. Gordon’s improvised solo on this track is pressing, yet never hurried. At times on this disc, imprecision between the trumpet and saxophone is evident, as well as occasional discrepancies in intonation. Nevertheless, Gordon’s musical ideas are implemented with energy and enthusiasm throughout the album. His compositions and performances reflect a blend of tradition and innovation.
Metroland review of Wakeup Call
By David Malachowski
Within the first anxious moments of the Terry Gordon Quintet’s Wakeup Call, you know immediately that it’s not elevator jazz. The starting point, “Deep Brindle”, begins with an urgent drum-trumpet workout that leads into a furious sax ride, followed by an explosive, frenzied guitar solo. “Runnin’ Around” really swings, while the gorgeous title track, “Wakeup Call” (written by Eric Peirce), finds its groove. From turbulent progressive tunes to flawless traditional-style material, their blend of chaos and clarity is remarkable.
From the inspiring virtuosity of Gordon’s trumpet, the fiery drums of Jonathan Peirce, and burning lead lines from guitarist Gordon Tibbits (where’s he been hiding?) to Joe Dragone’s caterwauling vocals (sic) and the capable bass of Eric Peirce, the Terry Gordon Quintet are an extraordinary group for any town; the fact that they’re based in the Capital Region only makes it even more delicious.
Wakeup Call is jazz in the truest, freest sense. Though the arrangements are fresh and inventive, there’s nothing dramatically new or groundbreaking in it. The trick is that the quintet’s passionate playing makes it sound new. Seek out this band and their CD.
Jazzreview.com review of Homeward Bound
By Rob Johnson
Upstate New York is fortunate to be favored by the ensemble playing and soloing of the Terry Gordon Quintet for over a decade. The rest of us are allowed to enjoy the TGQ’s brand of straight ahead jazz on their latest CD, Homeward Bound, recently released on the WEPA Records label.
The first component of the Quintet one notices is a lightness in the ensemble passages caused by the use of a guitar in place of a piano as the principle chording instrument. The title cut, first up on the album, features this lightness of tone most enthusiastically since the piece is rife with counterpoint in the theme.
The guitar duties are divided amongst three musicians, all of whom are up to the task of the challenging compositions, all but three of which bear the imprint of the group’s leader.
“Percival’s Disappearance” is sadly the shortest cut of the CD, for it is the most exciting. A boppish-unison line gives way to trumpet, tenor sax and guitar soloing at once without giving in to mere cacophony. This might be the tune you find yourself coming back to the most, whether in your mind or the “repeat” button on your remote.
If one may be permitted an indulgence, this critic found several passages of Homeward Bound reminiscent of another upstate New York set of musicians – any one of Chuck Mangione’s groups in the mid to late seventies. But before you start remembering Mangione at his sweetest, most yawn-inducing style, please remember that at various times he had several powerful soloists in his band and also wrote some exciting themes.
Go Along, It’s a Fun Ride!
There’s a tidbit of cinema-related quirk at play with “Along for the Ride” from this quartet of fine Upstate New York performers. You see, there’s no “Arch Stanton” in the oddly named group. It’s a “person’s” name actor Clint Eastwood – himself a well-known jazzer – sees engraved on a tombstone in the classic Western flick, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” That elaborated, there’s plenty “good” in this debut recording, nothing that could be construed as “bad” or “ugly” and certainly great potential on the horizon, partner.
Recorded live, this pianoless group offers up a magnificent seven originals and one classic cover. A highly eclectic CD, the material ranges from straight-ahead harder bop (“Along for the Ride”) to more cerebral Monk-flavored rock-tinged fare (“Modest Sleuthing”). “Delta Royale” struts a Cajun-flavor and “Flying Gurnard” exhibits freer expressive tonalities on which the group shines brilliantly. “Compared to What” (not the Les McCann-Eddie Harris classic) pounds a heavy beat and “Estate” (“Summer”) is a beautiful rendition that sends it all home.
Terry Gordon’s trumpet drives the melodic coach, with guitarist Roger Noyes bridging the melodic charge and offering fine rhythmic underpinnings. Gordon’s well-constructed
solo efforts spin lengthy lines – rarely a hair too long – with shades of all the Masters from Miles to Mangione and Marsalis. His gorgeous sound and approach on “Estate” is superb. Noyes, as others in this group do, performs in and draws experiences from various ensembles. He can blow and octave-ize as funky as they get. Both he and Gordon write with terrific pens. Bassist Chris Macchia and drummer Steven Partyka rustle things along superbly, irrespective of groove.
It is refreshing to see players explore these different sound textures, especially through original material. “Along for the Ride” sets the stage for this high-potential group to continue to explore eclectic compositional and improvisational vistas. It is a highly approachable and enjoyable CD and portends a few dollars more for them. Even Mr. Eastwood might shed cowboy chaps for piano chops and one day join in the fun.
Nippertown review of Along For The Ride
By J Hunter, November 15, 2012
You don’t have to re-invent the wheel to do something distinctive in jazz. Instead of emulating Ornette Coleman and blowing the model to smithereens, you can follow Thelonious Monk’s example of adding one variable that separated your work from everybody else’s. The Arch Stanton Quartet has a pretty stock instrumental format, and they play pretty standard forms of jazz. But it’s not what they do that makes Along For The Ride a great debut recording — it’s how they do it!
Things start off quite normally, with an opening title track that’s your basic post-bop head-nodder. Terry Gordon’s trumpet leads the charge with notes that are clear, bright and full of purpose, and the band keeps it skin-tight as Gordon displays the power we’ve all come to expect from him. There’s no piano in the ASQ, so there’s no natural “softener” to act as Gordon’s foil. If guitarist Roger Noyes played in the Wes Montgomery/Pat Martino mode, he could pick up the role, but that’s not Noyes’ style: even though his solo conforms to the Montgomery form, Noyes’ sound has a pack of Rottweilers living inside it, with sharp teeth and Rebar-strength muscle. So while the composition doesn’t stray far from the norm, the performance lets you know that things are going to be different around here.
Noyes’ composition “Modest Sleuthing” starts out as a mournful blues with Gordon playing muted notes over drummer Steve Partyka’s funeral-march beat…but then the piece suddenly finds this so-very-crunchy groove, Partyka gives the backbeat a lot more oomph, and Noyes starts snapping out a seriously attitude-centric solo. Gordon’s free-styling “Flying Gurnard” has elements of his previous, self-named quintet, but the stripped-out nature of the ASQ gives the piece a street-brawling nature; another Noyes piece, the semi-staggering “Della Royale,” has a kind of anarchic vibe embodied by the Pennsylvania provocateurs Mostly Other People Do The Killing. Even “straight” material like Gordon’s bossa “Watching The Storm Go By” and Noyes’ Latin-jazz “Twilight Curves” have concrete and steel at their base, making them anything but light-hearted throwaways.
Partyka’s best work happens when he’s Scott Amendola to Noyes’ Charlie Hunter, infusing the Stanton Quartet with the kind of sound that’s made jam-banders see what jazz can do when it joins the 21st century. Partyka’s solos on “Gurnard” and Noyes’ uber-shuffle “Compared To What” combine good lyrical sense with muscle-car power.Conversely, Chris Macchia has better luck when he eschews solos in favor of support; however, his moment in the clear on “Gurnard” is a definite winner and helps set the tone for that mid-section exercise in rubato.
Given the raucousness that had come before, closing the disc with the reflective “Estate” has shock value all its own. However, the shimmering beauty Gordon and Noyes spin from their duet take on the Bruno Martino standard gives the date a well-crafted coda.
Again, the Arch Stanton Quartet hasn’t re-invented the wheel here. However, the way they do the things they do males Along For The Ride anything but typical, and that’s good — because there are days when you really need to go beyond the typical.
Daily Freeman review of Along For The Ride
By David Malachowski, March 15, 2013
The Albany-based Arch Stanton Quartet boast no one named Arch Stanton (a character in the film “The Good, The Bad, and the ugly”) but members do include Terry Gordon (trumpet, flugelhorn), Roger Noyes (guitar), Chris Macchia (bass) and Steven Partyka (drums). The band plays an intriguing blend of bop and post-bop jazz, with hints of funk and Latin grooves. This group is piano-less, but that opens up a whole sonic spectrum to fill.
Or leave empty. In jazz, space is your friend.
Straight out of the gate, title track “Along For The Ride” offers a fresh sound by way of a bracing trumpet. It is soon joined by guitar, before venturing off on its own adventure through both rough and smooth terrain, as the tightly wound guitar soon has something to say over the turbulent, restless rhythm section.
With the epic “Modest Sleuthing,” the guitar takes the steering wheel, stating its mission early with spare and almost bleak chords. Then the trumpet joins in with some long expressions, before marching off on a long, but purposeful solo.
The voyeuristic “Watching The Storm Go By” goes by smooth and mellow, while again the guitar shows the way. In “Della Royale,” there’s playful interaction between guitar and trumpet.
The anxious “Flying Gurnard” is a standout, where the guitar and drums converse for a fiery ride that falls into an emotive bass solo, and then a melodic, inventive, polyrhythmic drum solo. Trumpet starts out alone in “Twilight Curves” and then the band comes in and swings.
The combo is planning to play the Cairo Jazz Festival in Egypt this march, but will surely return to upstate venues, so make due with this album until that time.
With one foot in the timeless traditions of bop, and the other about to set down on something brand new, the Arch Stanton Quartet is as mysterious as its name, with killer players that aren’t afraid to go out on a limb, right to the very end.
International Trumpet Guild Journal review of “Along For The Ride”
By Ron Lipka, January 2014
Trumpeter Terry Gordon and guitarist Roger Noyes are an odd couple on this recording of the Arch Stanton Quartet. Gordon is a slick bebop player, while Noyes is entrenched in down-home blues. Some very nicely melodic heads brighten the music and lead the soloists through their disparate improvisations. Gordon supplies most of the standard jazz orientation with well-crafted solos on the bop-influenced tracks, such as the title cut “Along For The Ride” and “Flying Gurnard.” On “Along For The Ride,” Gordon plays a well-shaped chorus with a nice line over the modal foundation. Noyes provides contrast with his single-note, almost acoustic sound and bluesy approach. Alternatively on “Flying Gurnard,” Gordon, following a fine bebop head, flashes his considerable chops by reaching out both harmonically and melodically. Noyes shows his true colors in “Modest Sleuthing” as he is apparently most at home playing Delta blues. The group finds a comfortable home with the Latin rhythms in “Watching The Storm Go By” and “Twilight Curves.” On Storm,” Gordon has a very relaxed approach, paired with Noyes’ single string concept and nice bass playing by Chris Macchia. “Estate” is the only cover tune and is the most interesting composition on this CD with Gordon’s lovely, dark flugelhorn sound. In addition to playing with the Arch Stanton Quartet, Gordon leads the Terry Gordon Quintet and performs regularly with several other groups. He has played at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Rochester International Jazz Festival, Syracuse Jazz in the Square Festival, Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival, and Lincoln Center’s Saturday night salsa dancing series. Along For The Ride is recommended for some pleasant listening while doing a workout or having a tranquil cup of coffee.
Times Union review of Blues For Soli
By Andrew Gregory, October 14, 2014
Blues For Soli — the Arch Stanton Quartet’s sophomore record — features a suite of four new songs inspired by the band’s U.S.-Embassy-sponsored tour of Egypt in March of last year, along with five other original pieces. The Arch Stanton Quartet are: Roger Noyes (guitar), Terry Gordon (trumpet, flugelhorn, pocket trumpet), Chris Macchia (bass), and Steven Partyks (drums).
The record begins with the “Lady Egypt Suite,” names for the bus company and its driver, Soli, who escorted the band between performances in Cairo and Alexandria. The suite includes: a quirky take on Middle Eastern cuisine (“Kofta”); a hard swingin’ ode to the swanky Zamalek neighborhood of Cairo (“Zamalek”); a freeform composition inspired by traditional Egyptian melodies the band overheard at a hotel wedding in Alexandria (“Groovin’ At The Azur”); and the album’s title track, a blues number honoring the band’s indefatigable driver throughout the tour (“Blues For Soli”).
“Soli, as the very sound of his name suggests, was in many ways the soul of our trip,” says guitarist Roger Noyes. “He spent hours with us on the bus, escorting the band from venue to venue, and he kept us laughing the whole time, even though he spoke very little English. It seemed fitting that we name this collection of songs for him since he was such a major, abiding part of our journey and a real window into Egyptian life and culture.”
The album features several other new songs that build upon ASQ’s catalog of hard-charging original jazz, including the smoky ballad “Aphorisms,” the swampy funk-groove “Dungoode Bayou” featuring lots of twists and turns, the propulsive “Floodgills,” the rock-funk and swing of “Striped Water,” and “Convection Zone,” a dreamlike waltz to close out the record.
The new album features a short essay by James Ketterer, who was instrumental in organizing the trip in his position as Director of AMIDEAST/Egypt, an educational organization. Mr. Ketterer is currently director of international academic initiatives at Bard College, where he also teaches Middle East politics and is a senior fellow.
Nippertown review of Blues For Soli
By J Hunter
In hindsight, I may have done the Arch Stanton Quartet a disservice by referring to their stripped-out underground sound as “garage-band jazz.” All us grey-haired rockers can wax poetic about garage bands like the Music Explosion, the Count Five and — my favorite– the Standells serving up two minutes-and-change of nasty, uncultured excellence…but the Electric Prunes and the Count Five never had a chance to experience sophomore slump because they dropped out after the first semester! Well, the Arch Stanton Quartet is back with Blues For Soli, and there are two bits of good news: first, no sophomore slump here; and second, Greater Nippertown’s musical ambassadors are STILL as nasty as they want to be!
It was their short-but-intense tour of Egypt in 2013 that helped birth the disc’s first four tracks (also known as the “Lady Egypt Suite”), and there’s a definite intensity to the opening track “Kofta.” The introduction has this swirling, almost drunken quality that makes you wonder, “How bad will this trip be?” Then drummer Steven Partyka hits this sweet groove straight out of Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay,” and the ASQ is serving up the funk their way; this involves mixing whip-tight guitar from Roger Noyes with open, almost snarling trumpet from Terry Gordon (who is SO on his game throughout this date), while bassist Chris Macchia bows a counter that evokes Frankenstein skanking down the street while sipping from a bottle of schnapps.
For something kinda-sorta different, we get the breezy swinger “Zamalek” (named for a high-end neighborhood in Cairo), led by Gordon’s pedal-to-the-metal solo and Partyka’s flag-waving Scott Amendola imitation, quickly followed by another musical left turn: “Groovin’ At The Azur,” a literal fever dream from Gordon that mashes East and West quite spookily. The trip ends with the title track, dedicated to the character that kept the quartet on the road and laughing all the way through. While most of this music is brand spanking new, Gordon reaches deep into his songbook for the funked-up cruiser “Striped Water.” That’s proceeded by two Noyes compositions: the dark, dark ballad “Aphorisms” and the slow swamp skanker “Dungoode Bayou.” Noyes’ pulsing “Floodgills” would have made a great closer, but as with their 2012 debut Along For The Ride, the ASQ finish off Soli with a coda of its own, the pensive “Convection Zone.”
While the Arch Stanton Quartet haven’t strayed from the no-frills, damn-right vibe that had me eating up Along with two spoons and a straw, they are definitely plumbing deeper depths on Soli, with barely-visible tweaks that speak of streamlining and (dare I say it?) polish.
Metroland review of Blues For Soli
By Jeff Nania, November 20, 2014
Blues For Soli is the Arch Stanton Quartet’s sophomore release, which comes two years after their first record, and a year after the group collectively traveled to Egypt for a cultural exchange which featured a performance at the Cairo Jazz Festival, and workshops for Egyptian students at the American University in Cairo. The trip came during a turbulent year in Egypt’s history with a revolution that spurred fundamental sociopolitical changes, which in turn influenced some of the music on the new record.
The Arch Stanton Quartet have always featured extended forms and unusual melodies, but this album takes into account the diffusion of the recent trip and tunes like trumpeter Terry Gordon’s “Groovin’ At The Azur” definitely reflect this right off the bat with the wide-open space and Middle Eastern style scales present in Gordon’s improvisation.
“Kofta” is one of guitarist Roger Noyes’ newer originals, which opens the album with an ambiguous but sensitive open space vaguely reminiscent of the melody of Charles Minus’ “I X Love,” before breaking into a harmonically similar space but with a beat evocative of Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks.” Bassist Chris Macchia dregs along on a bowed bass line that creates a kind of woozy tilt beneath the melody and solos.
“Zamalek” is a winding melody played by Noyes and Gordon while Macchia walks along underneath before meeting up to finish the statement, which is punctuated in the front and back by Steven Partyka’s work on the drums.
The title track also pulls on the free sounding space, but this time rather than the whole group ebbing and flowing in bursts, it is just Gordon and Noyes who have a thoughtful interplay before the slower blues-ish groove emerges.
This record serves to showcase the evolution of a local group’s compositional style as the continue to go beyond bop and incorporate further cultural influences into their sound.
Nippertown “Local Hero Award (CD Division)” for Blues For Soli
By J Hunter, December 23, 2014
After creating a sound on their 2012 debut Along for the Ride that nobody else in Greater Nippertown had made, the next goal for the Arch Stanton Quartet was to conjure up another set of kickass originals while avoiding Sophomore Slump. As some guy who likes to paint his feet in the bathtub nowadays might have said: Mission Accomplished. The second half of Blues for Soli says the Stanton Quartet could have made this happen without their whirlwind tour of Egypt in 2013. That said, the tone that’s set by the four monster tunes contained in the opening “Lady Egypt Suite” is about as blood-and-guts tough as you’re going to get. It’s still “garage-band jazz,” in that the ASQ is a no-frills outfit with a license to kill; however, there are layers of richness to this music that were only hinted at on Ride. What the future brings for the ASQ is anyone’s guess, but as far as I’m concerned, the guy in the bathtub said it all: “Bring it on!”
Albany Jazz “Top 5 Jazz Albums of 2014” for Blues For Soli
By Rudy Lu
My local choice this year. The band named after a tombstone in a Clint Eastwood movie shows it is very much alive and full of new creative ideas in its sophomore outing. Much of the music was inspired by their 2013 appearance at the Cairo Jazz Festival. A clear example of how jazz is absorbing other music. The unusual front line of guitar and trumpet/flugelhorn of Roger Noyes and Terry Gordon is used to much advantage in creating unusual textures in the music. The rhythm section of Chris Macchia and Steve Partyka add to the multiple frames of reference of their music.
Albany Jazz review of Blues For Soli
by Tom Pierce
I’ve been intrigued about the Arch Stanton Quartet for a number of reasons. These included initially a fascination with a band being named, not for one or more musicians or some other musical reference, but rather an obscure, dead fictional character whose gravesite figures in the plot of the Clint Eastwood western, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”.
I have also appreciated for many years the exceptionally exciting trumpet of Terry Gordon in three top-notch Capital District big bands, as well as his own quintet. And lastly, I’d been reading about the quartet’s growing popularity locally. They were voted Best Local Jazz Band by Metroland readers in March 2013, after a number of successful live dates and the release of their initial CD, “Along for the Ride” in November 2012 on WEPA Records.
I enjoyed this basically straight-ahead, grooving and melodically appealing debut CD, with its seven creatively interesting originals, and a captivating version of “Estate”, the popular Brazilian song I’ve long found exotically alluring. I was especially taken with how their arrangements effectively used their fairly rare combination of trumpet and guitar (plus bass & drums) to project a different, but resonantly full sound for a quartet with only one horn and no piano.
This second CD. “Blues For Soli” is even a bit more adventuresome and diverse. It opens with 4 originals (collectively termed the “Lady Egypt Suite”) which were inspired by their very busy one week tour of that country in March 2013. This tour included appearances at the Cairo International Jazz Festival, as well as performances at High Schools and the American University of Cairo, as well as workshops and master classes. This suite is followed by five additional unrelated originals, also written by either Roger Noyes or Terry Gordon, as were all the tunes on “Along for the Ride”.
The four songs in the “Lady Egypt Suite” project the composers’ artistic reactions to (and incorporations of) a wide variety of memorable aspects of their adventure. These experiences included their very warm, faithful & unforgettably dependable bus driver Soli (for whom the CD is named), the Middle Eastern cuisine, an upscale Cairo neighborhood and traditional Egyptian music played at a wedding. Listening to these tunes reminded me of: how capably Jazz (in the hands of skilled musicians) can incorporate stimulating features of virtually ALL forms of music, while still adhering to its essential qualities of swinging, improvisation and blues feel. Their Middle Eastern vibe, compelling rhythmic drive and Terry Gordon’s enticing trumpet, flugelhorn & pocket trumpet reminded me of the superlative Israeli quartet, Third World Love, featuring trumpeter Avishai Cohen & bassist Omer Avital.
The five non-Egypt inspired originals effectively ran the gamut of ballads, funk/fusion grooves, Hard Bop/Post Bop, a waltz, etc. Each had its own identity in terms of melodic emphasis, rhythm, keys, etc; but almost all were highlighted by the assertively strong, propulsion, but also at times, movingly tender solos and ensemble melody statements by the featured trumpet and guitar. My personal favorites on the CD were the hypnotically rolling gait and memorably strong bass line of the swinging “Groovin’ at the Azur” (a tribute to the traditional Egyptian music at the wedding), the captivating Hard Bop groove of “Floodgills” and also the exquisite ballads: “Aphorisms’ and “Convection Zone’.
With two remarkably varied CDs to their credit, it’ll be interesting to see what directions their muse and life/music experiences will lead them into for their next production.
Times Union review of Blues For Soli
By David Malachowski, February 25, 2015
Capital Region-based jazz band the Arch Stanton Quartet has a potent new CD -—its second –— called “Blues For Soli,” and it’s quite intriguing.
The first track, “Kofta,” begins with anxious, unsettling, out-of-time chaos, until it finally finds its feet with an unexpected slow back-beat groove (Steven Partyka, drums, and Chris Macchia, bass). On top of that, an almost mechanical melody rides, split between the trumpet (Terry Gordon) and guitar (Roger Noyes). Mad solos ensue, and Noyes bravely plays crystal clean, and leaves his unaffected guitar naked and vulnerable, fast and funky, while the sassy trumpet goes for the throat.
“Striped Water” is deep, starting with a percussive bass line that percolates under a sweet-and-sour horn melody that gives way to some funked-up guitar. “Soli’s Interlude (Asleep On The Bus)/Blues For Soli” begins with a luxurious trumpet statement, then splashy drums put their two cents in. Finally the others join, albeit it with canyons of space. The guitar slowly turns up the heat as it really begins to swing. “Floodgills” brings higher energy, excitement and, again, swings its butt off.
The collection closes with the understated “Convection Zone,” in which an almost sad trumpet casually shows the pathway, until the whole combo ambles in, following closely, trying not to be seen.
The inspiration for many of these compositions was the group’s 2013 trip to Cairo, Eygpt. Not surprisingly, there’s a worldly mystical mysteriousness in the proceedings, giving them weight and depth. The Arch Stanton Quartet takes a giant step forward creatively here, making a bold, brave statement with this inventive recording.
International Trumpet Guild Journal review of Blues For Soli
By Ron Lipka, January 2016
The Arch Stanton Quartet presents such a variety of grooves and feels that the listener cannot be bored or avoid being intrigued by the expectation of what could come next — all from just a quartet. The group had a US Embassy-sponsored tour of Egypt in 2013, inspiring this latest CD. The band is a mostly acoustic group, and if any categorization is possible, it may be down-home post-bop. Trumpeter Terry Gordon is an unpretentious, straight-ahead jazz player who never resorts to faster, higher, and louder gimmicks. Instead, he is an intriguing, melodic, and soulful artist with a fine sound and plenty of inventive ideas. The first four tracks, though entitled “Lady Egypt Suite,” remain in the “down-home” style of Arch Stanton. “Kofta” sets the mood with a slow minor-blues feel with lots of backbeat and a funky vibe, giving Gordon extensive solo room that is complemented by the Southern blues style of guitarist Roger Noyes. It is Noyes who wrote most of the material and supplies the Delta background grooves as noted in his work on “Zamalek,” where, lightly amped, he is funky like B.B. King playing jazz. “Groovin’ At The Azur” is the quartet at its expressive best as it goes on a modal journey with Gordon and Noyes trading fours. Gordon is impressive and inventive and also influenced a bit by Freddie Hubbard. The second half of the recording features originals mostly by Noyes and goes from ballad style in “Aphorisms” (sensitive flugelhorn) to the soulful blues of “Dungoode Bayou” to the hard-swinging “Striped Water.” The rhythmic intensity is infectious, and this group is not afraid to swing and have fun doing it. The sound production is excellent and the packaging fine, though more liner information would be nice. For a good listening experience, get this CD — the Arch Stanton Quartet is a treasure of gold.