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Slipstream

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 22, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Review

The Los Angeles, CA-based Posi-Tone keeps finding new artists deserving of our attention. Haidu, a Virginia native and graduate of Rutgers University, is no exception. His debut session as a leader features the fine front line of Jeremy Pelt (trumpet) and Jon Irabagon (alto sax) with the solid rhythm section of Chris Haney (acoustic bass) and drummers John Davis or Willie Jones III (on 3 tracks). The blend of Pelt and Irabagon, 2 players who know the history of their respective instruments vis a vis jazz, makes for intriguing music. The opening track, "Soulstep", has the feel of early 1960s Horace Silver with its funky rhythms and "sweet" solos. "Where We Are Right Now" moves in similar fashion but the piece feels somewhat more exploratory - one hears the change in the shifting tempi (kudos to John Davis for really pushing the band.) The pianist really dances over the active rhythm section, spurring on the bassist and drummer to a higher intensity. Irabagon, who's best known for his work in Mostly Other People Do the Killing as well as being the winner of the 2009 Thelonious Monk Competition, sinks his teeth into a passionate solo. Pelt, who has developed into a masterful player, takes a lovely solo on "Take Your Time", a ballad on which Haidu's solo builds quietly but firmly into a soulful expression. Pelt's bluesy solo on "The Trouble Makers" gives the piece a Jazz Messengers feel, a la the ensemble featuring Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter. "Break Tune" blends the influences of Monk, Herbie Hancock and Geri Allen into a most funky concoction, the trumpet and saxophone trading phrases over Davis's "fatback" drumming. The program also includes several trio tracks (sans sax and trumpet) - there is the fast-paced romp through Cole Porter's "Just One Of Those Things" and a sweet ballad titled "Float." On the latter track, bassist Haney supplies fine counterpoint to the pianist's thoughtful solo work. That's one of Haidu's strength in that he does not try to blow the listener away with prodigious technique - his solos unwind gradually, growing out from the melody or harmonic patterns. "Slipstream" won't blow you away with fiery solos or breath-taking rhythms but impresses with its subtle variations on classic sounds, the short but pithy solos and the classy rhythm section work. Noah Haidu can certainly play and, in his quickly maturing compositional style, he creates pleasing musical playgrounds for his band. --Richard Kamins, Step Tempest

Slipstream is the debut from New York-based pianist/writer Noah Haidu. Featuring an exceptionally talented quintet of musicians, it's a striking first album, full of superb, straight-ahead jazz. Haidu's compositions he wrote all but one of the tunes are strong on melody and characterized by a gentle and soulful swing. As a pianist, Haidu sounds equally comfortable as a lead musician or as part of the rhythm section. Of course, his fellow musicians are high quality players themselves, and are key to the album's success. The frontline features alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt. Irabagon is capable of some wild and wacky musical flights, as his work with Mostly Other People Do The Killing and his own Foxy (Hot Cup, 2010) attest. But he's also a class act on more mainstream tunes. Pelt has a luxurious tone on trumpet, and is never less than tasteful in his playing. The two players are inspired choices for Haidu's music, working beautifully together and delivering engaging solos. "Soulstep" has a warmly familiar style to its melody and arrangement, like a Mike Post TV theme. It's full of movement and pace, with drummer Willie Jones III to the fore and Haidu's deftly positioned chords adding just the right accents. "Where We Are Right Now" features more of Haidu's rhythm work, while Pelt and Irabagon fatten up the sound with some tight unison playing. "Float" does just that, thanks to John Davis' relaxed brush work, while "Break Tune" has a more modern sound, its fractured melody and funky rhythm giving it a harder edge than the other tunes. Haidu opens the one non-original, Cole Porter's "Just One Of Those Things," in confident style, with some chunky flourishes, before hitting the melody with a real swing. Davis and bassist Chris Haney give the tune an irresistible drive, and Haidu's solo positively rocks. Slipstream is another fine addition to the Posi-Tone catalog, from a lyrical player with an intriguing line in compositions who's extremely well-served by the rest of the band. Slipstream is mainstream with a flourish. --Bruce Lindsay, All About Jazz

Posi-Tone Records, the label that has done more than anyone else lately in putting out records by the brightest new talent in mainstream and modern jazz, introduced the pianist and composer Noah Haidu to the world last week. Slipstream went on sale March 22, a debut that doesn t present mere potential, but an accomplished jazz ace making hard-bop in an accomplished manner. Haidu didn t get to this point by happenstance; like all jazz success stories, it s the culmination of hard work. As sideman, Haidu has performed with a long list of jazz stars like Duane Eubanks, Michael Hawkins, Eddie Allen, Jeanie Bryson, Curtis Lundy are more. He s also a member of the cooperative jazz group Native Soul, as well as the funk group One Nation, where he trades in his acoustic piano for electronic keyboards. For his first time out as a leader, though, Haidu plays elastic hard bop, sometimes stretched creatively to the outer limits of genre by some crafty composing. For his classic sax/trumpet quintet, Haidu calls on the services of Chris Haney on bass, John Davis or Willie Jones III on drums, Jeremy Pelt on trumpet and surprise the ubiquitous Jon Irabagon on alto sax. Admittedly, the presence of both Pelt and Irabagon is just as big of a draw to me as the leadership and compositions of Haidu. This is the modern-day equivalent of a classic Blue Note with Lee Morgan and Joe Henderson as sidemen on the record. As I soon discovered, though, having both these guys matched up with Haidu made it all the more better. Soulstep is a crisp soul-jazz number in the proud tradition of Art Blakey but even for a relatively straightforward style, Haidu writes in some hiccups in the rhythms and unusual cadences on the thematic lines, a style of his found on several other of the seven Haidu originals performed on this record. It s here we get to hear Pelt and Irabagon square off for the first time, and like true professionals, they set the tone by not turning this into a all-out blowing session that would quickly submerge the leader. Instead, the opt for some very tasty enunciations, with Pelt playing in a crisp Hubbard/Shaw fashion while Irabagon gently squeezes the juice out of every note. Haidu s piano style is never too hot or too cold, just right. He recalls Horace Silver and at times, Sonny Clark, with some Hancock-isms emerging from time to time. He pulls the best attributes from all of them. Where We Are Right Now (video below) follows, where Haidu s fluid piano articulations take center stage over the horn players. Slipstream runs fast, sprinting up and down a flight of stairs, darting in and out and starting and stopping on a dime. Pelt brandishes his big, bop credentials on his solo run, Irabagon adopts a Jackie McLean attitude for his and Haidu mixes up single lines with double fisted block chords for his. Break Tune has a little bit of an organic, hip-hop beat paced by Haney s start-stop bass. Pelt and Irabagon trade licks, simmering nicely but never going over the top, as Davis busy beat making raises the tension. Float is the only real ballad of the set, and this time, the horns sit out. Haidu handles the waltz with aplomb, finding non-repeating ideas as Davis slides in a multifaceted rhythm that keeps the tune humming along. The one cover is Cole Porter s Just One Of Those Things, and Haidu shows some inventive interpretive skills, re-harmonizing the standard but leaving just enough of the original melody intact to recognize it. Again using the trio format, Haidu plays with the most fire for this number. The meter-shifting The Trouble Makers closes out the album with a blues walk and like most of this collection, a fine re-enactment of 60s jazz. Noah Haidu makes an impressive first step with Slipstream, and although it doesn t hurt of have two of jazz s currently hotte --S. Victor Aaron, Something Else!
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 22, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Posi-Tone Records
  • ASIN: B004O0JP8A
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,221 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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A couple weeks ago, I was listening to a morning jazz program, and two cuts that were played that really caught my attention. Interestingly, it turns out both featured Jeremy Pelt. One was from Men of Honor, and the other was from this album, Noah Haidu's Slipstream. I ordered them both immediately!

Both albums are loaded with driving, straight-ahead post-bop, and both are well worth owning in my estimation, but Slipstream is my favorite of the pair. Straight-ahead can be cerebral, of course, but this is also the kind of music you can thoroughly enjoy on a simple gut level.

You can listen carefully to the subtleties of Haidu's piano or Pelt's trumpet for just two of the great performances here, or simply put it on, turn up the volume, and don't stop boppin' your head 'til you've got a headache! Dig this album just like you'd dig Louis Prima doing Jump, Jive and Wail. (Worked at Harrah's Reno in the '70's and I can't tell you how often I found it necessary to detour by the Cabaret to steal a couple minutes watching Louis and his great band...but that's another story.)

And this is great music for long trips, too. Just put it on just as you hit the on-ramp, and go. So if you like post-bop, just buy this thing, you won't be sorry!
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I've been trying to hone my disc selection to this criteria....some melody to hold things together, all the players have enough to keep a musician listener well satisfied and all the tunes can be played in the company of people who don't usually listen to jazz without having something that sounds like an experimental indulgence, filling a track or two. This album fits that criteria.
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