Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"Drummer Matt Jorgensen pushes a bit out of the relative comfort zone of his longstanding Matt Jorgensen + 451 ensemble, to pay homage to his late father-in-law, abstract expressionist painter Dale Chisman, withTattooed by Passion. With his + 451 group, Jorgensen crafted a distinctive modern-leaning sound on CDs Hope (Origin Records, 2004) and Another Morning (Origin Records, 2008). He carries that tradition forward on Tattooed by Passion.
Tight grooves are a part of Jorgensen's approach, which isn't surprising for a drummer. But more importantly, for the group sound he creates, are his choices in the guys sitting in the chording instrument chairs; players who can roll into that disciplined groove if need be, or break out on a tangent to play with astounding abandon: keyboardist Ryan Burns on the + 451 sets, and guitarist Corey Christiansen on the disc in hand.
Opening with the groove-centric "Space, Plane and Line," the group slips into some clean two-horn harmony, featuring + 451 alum, saxophonist Mark Taylor, and Jorgensen's oft-times collaborator, trumpeter Thomas Marriott, in front of Christiansen's crisp chording and the leader's initially metronomic beat. Each horn solos, then Christiansen takes a turn with burning restraint - small, hot blue flames bursting into a crescendo blaze.
The title tune continues in the same mode. The group dynamic is the same - Marriott's warm trumpet tone giving way to Taylor's biting saxophone tang, then Christiansen's burning incandescence driven forward by Dave Captein's beefy bass and Jorgensen's tight-yet-quirky percussion.
"Colorado" has a relaxed, wide-open-spaces atmosphere and a country twang reminiscent of the mood on Marriott's strange but outstandingCrazy: the Music of Willie Nelson (Origin Records, 2008). Jorgensen experiments with much success here and on two more tunes, enlisting a string quartet to add a richness and subtle shine to the quintet's sound.
The the more intense "Big Chief With a Golden Crown" charges down an arrow-straight highway at ninety miles-an-hour on a solid bass/drums drive train, leading to a brief dreamy interlude that wails with a hard rock energy into "Primal Scrip," giving Christiansen a chance to rip with soaring freedom in front of a pounding, sludgy rhythm.
On the closer, "Savage Grace," the strings return, along with clarinetistRichard Cole. The extra instrumentation adds a panoramic feeling to an initially pensive tune that bursts outward with Marriott's brassy solo. An ambitious and beautiful ending to Matt Jorgensen's finest recording to date." -AllAboutJazz
Personnel: Matt Jorgensen (drums); Corey Christiansen (guitar); Mark Taylor (saxophone); Thomas Marriott (trumpet).
Audio Mixer: Don Gunn.
Liner Note Authors: Andrew Freund; Michael Paglia; Matt Jorgensen.
Recording information: Two Sticks Audio, Seattle, WA (09/13/2009-10/04/2009).
Photographers: Mark Sink; Tim Tyler.
Music based on visual art is nothing new (many know of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition if nothing else), but can be a mixed bag in terms of quality. Though both art forms can show improvisation and structure, musicians have to walk a fine line: too literal in their transcription of color and strength and they risk making terrible music; too free with the aesthetics of their own musical ideas and they risk ignoring the visual starting point. Drummer and bandleader Matt Jorgensen manages, while working from the paintings of his father-in-law, Dale Chisman, to walk that line carefully and perfectly, however. Instead of creating simplistic program music to represent the subjects of Chisman's paintings, Jorgensen tends to create with the mood of the painting in mind instead, as well as a hearty enjoyment of improvisation, taking a cue from the constant reworking apparent in the brushstrokes, with layered sounds mimicking layered color ideas. The music that results is at times deep and groove-laden (especially when featuring the power of guitarist Corey Christiansen) and at times philosophical. A piece like "Colorado" takes something of a melancholy, sparse aesthetic in the realm of Piazzolla's compositions. "Primal Scrip" takes on just a bit of a Western vibe à la Morricone (before moving into a bit of electric jazz fusion). "Dialogue 2008" (co-written by trumpeter par excellence Thomas Marriott) ends up as a straightforward bop-era stomp between Marriott and saxophonist Mark Taylor. Without becoming rote and without going deep beyond its inspirational subject matter, Tattooed by Passion simultaneously manages to pay respect to the paintings it was built from and independently stand as an excellent recording. ~ Adam Greenberg