Don Aliquo | Jazz Folk

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Jazz Folk

by Don Aliquo

Nashville-based tenor saxophonist Don Aliquo plays with a dextrous technique and a breathy, almost muffled tone. He leads a cohesive quintet on this disc, dovetailing especially well with the bright oscillations of trumpeter Clay Jenkins. Veteran bassist
Genre: Jazz: Jazz quartet
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Jazz Folk
7:07 $0.99
2. This is New
8:26 album only
3. Spiral Staircase
10:07 $0.99
4. Forever on My Mind
6:39 $0.99
5. Peaceful Flame
6:42 $0.99
6. Time And Again
6:42 $0.99
7. Never Never Land
7:41 album only
8. Frayed
4:13 $0.99
9. Come Out and Play (fea.t Rufus Reid)
8:43 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Those Who Can Do, Teach
As Don Aliquo’s latest CD proves, many jazz educators are great players too
by Jack Silverman
February 8, 2007

Think it’s hard to make a living playing music? Try making it as a jazz musician. At least rockers and country artists have a shot at a
lucrative record deal. And, though few get rich, many classical musicians benefit from benevolent patrons who support what is an
otherwise revenue-challenged musical form. But unlike classical players (or Blanche DuBois), jazzers can’t depend on the kindness of
strangers. That’s why many great players are also professional music educators—for instance, Don Aliquo, director of jazz studies at
Middle Tennessee State University.

Aliquo’s new CD, Jazz Folk, is a stunning collection that’s both forward thinking and rooted in tradition. It features a superb cast of
players from around the country, all of them jazz educators: trumpeter Clay Jenkins is an associate professor at Rochester, N.Y.’s
prestigious Eastman School of Music, pianist Dana Landry directs the jazz studies program at University at Northern Colorado and drummer Jim White is an assistant professor in Landry’s program. Bassist Rufus Reid, meanwhile, was on the faculty at William Paterson University for 20 years and wrote the highly regarded bass method book, The Evolving Bassist. (The list of recordings he’s played on goes on longer than a Coltrane solo, including dates with Dexter Gordon, Kenny Burrell, Jim Hall, Eddie Harris, Wayne Shorter, Jimmy Heath, Henry Threadgill, Mel Torme, Toots Thielemans and more.)

On Jazz Folk, the title-track opener sets the tone, introducing motifs that recur throughout the album: melodies that are doubled an
octave or two apart (called “octave unison”); quirky, angular phrasing; and playing behind the beat. (Of this last trait, this writer’s jazz
guitar teacher used to say, “It’s like a speedball...I mean, I’m not recommending you actually shoot up! But it’s that combination of
being really energetic yet laying back at the same time.”)

On that first melody, it’s as if Aliquo’s mellow sax provides a pillow for Jenkins’ trumpet notes an octave above. The way their tones
interact combined with the synchronicity of their phrasing—no small feat, given the rhythmic complexity—sound as if they’re one instrument, played through some kind of effect. (“Clay and I have sort of an uncanny ability to play stuff together without any conversation about the way it’s supposed to sound,” Aliquo says. “We just phrase it the same. That doesn’t happen that often.”) In fact, with the exception of Jules Styne’s “Never Never Land”—which has no trumpet at all—every tune on the album features Aliquo and Jenkins playing in octave unison at some point, which highlights the contrast between Aliquo’s exceptionally warm tone and the brighter
timbre of Jenkins’ trumpet.

With two horns, a lesser musician might have felt compelled to harmonize everything. Aliquo doesn’t avoid the practice entirely: after the rubato intro to “Spiral Staircase,” for example, he doubles Jenkins an octave below for much of the theme, before diverging into a harmony at the tail end. And, on “Time and Again,” Aliquo weaves back and forth between harmony and octave unison. But the octave-unison approach allows the melodies to stand on their own, and gives the ensemble a crisp, distinct sound. (Heck, octave unison provided the basis for the rock band Morphine’s signature sound.)
The soloists are engaging throughout, but it’s the compositions that really shine. There’s not a dud track on the record, but certain numbers stand out: “Jazz Folk” and “Spiral Staircase” (both written by Aliquo) and a couple of contributions from bassist Reid.

“Peaceful Flame” is a dreamlike meditation that, in spirit anyway, recalls the otherworldly “Little Church” from Miles Davis’ Live
Evil, with a little crime-drama noir thrown in. “Come Out and Play” features piano, bass and sax in triple-octave unison, playing a
whacked melody that, like many Frank Zappa compositions, sounds like something a third-grader would randomly hum to himself
while walking home from school—but in a good way.
Being a music educator is certainly a noble endeavor, and no doubt provides fulfillment of its own. Still, albums such as Jazz Folk can
make you long for a world where these five guys could afford to do nothing but record and perform. But until we have a Schermerhorn
Jazz Center and the patrons to support it, don’t hold your breath.



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