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ClassicsOnline Home » NEW YORK JAZZ COLLECTIVE: Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven
By Kenny Weir
Sunday Herald Sun (Australia)
"WHEN Mike Nock composed Somnium, Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven, Nata Lagal and Homage, he might not have known trombonist Ray Anderson was going to be on the session, but it sounds like it. Anderson, renowned for his bluesy blowing, fits right into the rolling gait of this top-notch aggregation's second album, making it just that bit more funky -- and accessible -- than the first. Not that it's a gutbucket affair, mind you. Just that the outfit's smart playing and arranging has been injected with a delicious, funky tang. Anderson is one of two new recruits. Trumpeter James Zollar is the other, while Nock (piano) is back, as are bassist Michael Formaneck, Mary Ehrlich (reeds) and Pheeroan ak Laff (drums) for an elegant outing."
A true jazz collective involving six astute improvisers - who all have history playing with each other - you know this NYJC session is bound to blow up. And true to the gospel-y title, they do take you to heaven.
Powerful and driving, yet subtle and thoughtful, this is a confident band of musicians doing what they do best - making free-wheeling first-class jazz and exploring their compositional muse. The New York Jazz Collective made its debut in 1997 with the critically praised Naxos Jazz disc, I Don't Know This World Without Don Cherry, and now they return full of raw enthusiasm and hearty camaraderie with an equally splendid follow-up, Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven.
"We had one rehearsal and two days in the studio, finishing up with two hours to spare, with smiles on everyone's faces." Mike Nock recalls. "It's not often this happens in my experience."
Though Mike Nock, Marty Ehrlich, Michael Formanek and Pheeroan ak Laff have been NYJC members since 1996, their associations run deeper. Ak Laff played in Nock's trio in the early 80s. Nock and Ehrlich first performed together on Nantucket Island in the late 70s. Zollar's debut CD is on Naxos Jazz whose Music Director is Nock.
A welcome new addition to the crew is trombonist Ray Anderson, whose wealth of experience shores up an already solid frontline. From playing alongside fellow trombonist George Lewis to his collaborations with Anthony Braxton, Charles Moffett and David Murray, Anderson - a Chicago son - is renowned for his highly personalized trombone playing.
On the reeds, St. Louis-native Marty Ehrlich is one of the foremost multi-instrumentalists today. He has led of late many marvelous ensmebles (Julius Hemphill Sextet, Dark Woods, Traveler's Tales). In 1999, he also recorded a duet album with Mike Nock, called The Waiting Game (on Naxos Jazz).
New Zealand born Mike Nock is an established piano master who has developed his own distinguished style of rock-solid tunes, jagged lines, spare harmonies and ostinato patterns. His work with the likes of Coleman Hawkins, Sam Rivers, Yusef Lateef, John Handy, Tony Williams and his late 60s' seminal jazz-rock group, The Fourth Way, has cemented his place in jazz history. He also holds a faculty position at the Sydney Conservatorium.
Detroit-born drummer Pheeroan ak Laff has been the backbone of many exceptional groups including the first NYJC disc. He has performed with Leo Smith, Henry Threadgill, Amina Claudine Myers and a mainstay in the Don Byron Sextet.
Trumpeter James Zollar is also a member of the Don Byron Sextet and has become one of the most sought after young trumpeters in New York. His debut CD as a leader, Soaring With Bird, was on Naxos Jazz. Plus, he was in the jazz-themed Robert Altman film, Kansas City.
Rounding out the unit is bassist Michael Formanek. With his big-boned bass sound and work with cutting-edge artists from Uri Caine and Jamie Baum, as well as established masters like Joe Henderson, Dave Liebman and Tim Berne, the West Coast native anchors this set again.
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