The real essence of A Portrait of Brooklyn, the debut recording from the Brooklyn Jazz Underground, lies in the differences between compositions. There are two compositions from each member; each provides a diverse photograph of the city they call home.
The roster features David Smith (trumpet), Dan Pratt (tenor saxophone, clarinet, flute), Adam Kolker (tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute), Anne Mette Iversen (bass), and Rob Garcia (drums).
Defined as “an artist run association that is in constant motion and evolvement,” the Brooklyn Jazz Underground just unbolted their doors to three new members: David Cook (piano), Tammy Scheffer (vocals) and Owen Howard (drums). One would have to imagine (and hope) that subsequent releases will feature those tremendous talents as well.
This outing has no shortage of talent, of course. The compositional assets of the members are matched by their skills on their respective instruments and nobody seems concerned with hogging the spotlight. The group functions as a true collective, undertaking the pieces in well-rounded fashion.
Smith’s “Starr St.” is first up. The track packs a head-nodding, driving gait and allows plenty of space to move (and groove).
One of the more stirring tracks is Pratt’s sly “Buttermilk Channel.” This features a virtually timid tempo, while the group plays to wonky, aptly irresolute edges. The piece also rocks a loose funk groove that should have toes tapping.
Then there’s the unconfined “JV,” an apparent affirmation of Charles Mingus that pounces with disseminated lines and haphazard percussion. Arranged, composed and giftwrapped by Kolker, this is A Portrait of Brooklyn’s most “experimental” number.
By the time the dust settles and the manhole covers sink back to their original positions, the Brooklyn Jazz Underground has played through ten pieces of vibrant, diverse jazz. Whether it’s the kaleidoscopic soul of Iversen’s “The Cherry Bees” or the bandstand pride of Smith’s “The Hill,” there’s something for everyone amongst these aural images of Brooklyn.