Album Remarks & Appraisals:
All About Jazz - David A. Orthmann
In some respects, The Composers is cut from the same cloth as Down With It, Dmitry Baevsky's 2010 release on Sharp Nine. The alto saxophonist selects seldom-played compositions from the jazz canon and executes thoughtful interpretations, so that the heads of tunes like Cedar Walton's "Ojos de Rojo," Wayne Shorter's "Mister Chairman," and Duke Ellington's "Self Portrait (of the Bean)" stand quite nicely on their own. A crack rhythm section consisting of pianist David Hazeltine, bassist John Webber, and drummer Jason Brown (the lone holdover from Down With It) offers vigorously swinging support with a relatively light touch.
By and large, Baevsky's solos during The Composers indicate a period of growth and transition. Although he's never been a rigid, totally orthodox bebopper, his playing throughout the disc's nine tracks evinces a desire to expand beyond bop's stylistic markers and dig deeper in pursuit of an individualistic voice. To his credit, Baevsky is taking measured steps and staying clear of emulating any other major post-Parker jazz saxophonist. An impressive example of his growth can be found in the first chorus of pianist Horace Silver's "To Whom It May Concern," where he mixes wispy phrases which float over the rhythm section with things weightier and more certain. The downside of Baevsky's search is an over reliance on certain motifs which begin to sound too schematic, sometimes becoming a distraction on some of the other tracks. ... read more...
Personnel: Dmitry Baevsky (alto saxophone); David Hazeltine (piano); Jason Brown (drums).
Audio Mixer: Joe Marciano.
Liner Note Author: Marc Edelman.
Recording information: Systems Two, Brooklyn, NY (09/08/2011).
Photographer: Marina Chassé.
Alto saxophonist Dmitry Baevsky is one musician who avoids the original-heavy CDs of many recent jazz program graduates, instead preferring to explore infrequently played gems by jazz greats from a variety of styles. His third CD as a leader features him backed by several of the most in-demand sideman in New York: pianist David Hazeltine, guitarist Peter Bernstein, bassist John Webber, plus young drummer Jason Brown (who appeared on Baevsky's debut CD). His brisk opener is Cedar Walton's infectious "Ojos de Rojo," a delicious blend of Latin rhythm and hard bop. Duke Pearson is an unjustly neglected composer, so Baevsky's exploration of his easygoing "Gaslight" is most welcome. Horace Silver's "To Whom It May Concern" features the leader and Bernstein playing in unison and superb soloing by the guitarist. Duke Ellington's "Self-Portrait of the Bean" was likely intended as a one-off recording for his small-group date with Coleman Hawkins (whom the song honors); Baevsky's alto is rhapsodic in its own way without trying to duplicate Hawkins' matchless sound on tenor. Tadd Dameron is yet another composer who doesn't get due attention, Baevsky's snappy take of this tricky bop gem features his darting alto. If that's not enough variety, Baevsky concludes with an enthusiastic treatment of Ornette Coleman's blues "Tears Inside." Dmitry Baevsky reminds jazz fans of what they may have missed by overlooking the contributions of past greats. ~ Ken Dryden