Larry Ankrum | Without Reasons

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Without Reasons

by Larry Ankrum

"Lush and vibrant, never transparent or monotonous... Without Reasons' pleasures lie in the simple expressiveness of a poignant swing." - Aaron LaFont, Offbeat Magazine
Genre: Jazz: Jazz quartet
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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Bywater
5:23 $0.99
2. A Little Bit Tall
5:40 $0.99
3. Without Reasons
7:14 $0.99
4. Balaklava Blues
5:41 $0.99
5. Three Wishes
7:11 $0.99
6. New Toy
5:05 $0.99
7. Alyona's Tears
5:51 $0.99
8. Rakin' the Yard
5:30 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Without Reasons...

Early in 2008 I decided to begin recording again. It had been six years since the self-titled "Albert-Ankrum Project" CD, and unbelievably, sixteen years since I recorded "It Cannot Be Exhausted By Use" with my Minnesota quartet. It was time to document some new sounds. At this point in my career I knew musicians from all over the planet, so the recording venue could have been any number of places, but in my mind the choice was obvious - it was time to go back to New Orleans. I put the band together in my head, then got on the internet and the phone to reconnect.

The guys I chose are not only friends, but top players from NOLA. Joe Ashlar and I met while we were both working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. He was living in New York at the time and came on the ship with his trio. He blew everyone away with his superb piano playing. When you hear him play, everything is so clear. David Pulphus and I go way back. We met during my first visit to New Orleans. He was playing bass with Terence Blanchard at that time, which in and of itself tells you all you need to know about how well he plays. He is a beautiful cat, and when he plays, the foundation is as solid as it can possibly be. Kevin O'Day is one of the funkiest drummers in the Crescent City, or anywhere else for that matter. I would often hear him with various groups in the clubs around New Orleans during the four years I lived there, and he was not only a joy to listen to, but to watch as well. Kevin always puts his heart and soul into the music.

What can I say about Jeff Albert? He's my brother. Jeff is the man with wide open ears. I can't thank him enough for everything he has done to help with this project. His creativity is boundless.

Some thoughts about the music:

"The Bywater" gets its name from the New Orleans neighborhood where I lived. It's home to many artists and musicians.

"A Little Bit Tall" was inspired by two people - Dexter Gordon (who was more than a little bit tall), and my friend Alyona (who by her own admission is a little bit tall).

"Without Reasons"... there are compulsions in life, things that must be done, must be lived. For these things no reasons are necessary. Reasons in these cases don't exist.

"Balaklava Blues" is a blues with a bridge. I wrote this after playing a concert in Balaklava, Ukraine with some Russian Army musicians from Sevastopol.

"Three Wishes" refers to the European new year's custom of wishing that your three wishes come true in the new year.

"New Toy" is a tune written by my friend Darin Presley, who is a fine young drummer from Los Angeles. He was calling it "Darin's Tune", but I felt that title didn't convey the playfulness of this great song, so I renamed it "New Toy".

"Alyona's Tears" is about the dark sadness of my dear friend.

"Rakin' the Yard" is something we all have to do from time to time, even if we worry about the consequences...

Enjoy the music without reasons.

Check out Aaron LaFont's review in Offbeat (New Orleans' and Louisiana's Music Magazine) :

"In 2008, saxophonist Larry Ankrum felt the urge to record again. It had been 16 years since the release of his debut album, It Cannot Be Exhausted by Use, and over six since collaborating with New Orleans trombonist Jeff Albert in the Albert- Ankrum Project. The seasoned musician and world traveler also felt compelled to return to the Crescent City. In May of 2008, with songs already composed, Ankrum called upon longtime friends pianist Joe Ashlar, bassist David Pulphus, and drummer Kevin O’Day, to join him for a one-day session at Piety Street Recording. The eight tracks captured during this session comprise Ankrum’s latest offering, Without Reasons, a bouncy be-bop affair with a distinct New Orleans flavor.
It begins with “The Bywater,” a sweet, sunlit stroll down to the bohemian neighborhood where Ankrum once resided. With bright, playful flourishes, Ankrum’s soprano sax dances about the beat as Ashlar’s chords sink into sumptuous melody. Then, seamlessly and subtly, Ashlar ascends to the top of the nimble groove, his keys merrily prancing alongside the agile pulse. This is a formula that, throughout, the group executes to perfection. Credit Ankrum’s superb arrangements and the musicians’ strength as an ensemble, their ability to absorb themselves into the material and to move through each tune with patience, passion, and precision.
Their emphasis on tone, texture, space, and nuance is best illustrated on the title track, a regal, reflective ballad where Ashlar’s sentimental swells soothe Ankrum’s wistful wanderings, and again on the effervescent reverie “Three Wishes,” where the spirited interplay between Pulphus and O’Day illuminates their counterparts’ melodic swoops.
While expertly performed, there are a few moments on Without Reasons which feel a bit too polished. Still, the album remains lush and vibrant, never transparent or monotonous. Like the springy, second line snare roll on the sweeping frolic “Rakin’ the Yard,” Without Reasons’ pleasures lie in the simple expressiveness of a poignant swing." - Aaron LaFont March 01, 2010



to write a review

Jeff Suzda (Paris, France)

Swingin' disc from beginning to end
If you are looking for an album that puts a new and modern spin on the idea of " classic swing", then I highly recommend this album. The compositions are an excellent balance of familiar and surprising styles, harmonic progressions, and feels. Ankrum has assembled an A-list rhythm section to interpret his music.

MUSICIAN REVIEWS: There is solid playing from all members of the quartet, and every musician's voice is distinctive. Ankrum leads the way with his melodic, thoughtful, and mature saxophone solos. His tenor sound is clearly one of a seasoned player, which he showcases marvelously on the title track "Without Reason". (For me, this track is reason enough to buy the album). Pianist Joe Ashlar supports the group beautifully with a rich and diverse harmonic vocabulary, but also shines during his solos where he cleverly extends and develops the thematic solos of Ankrum. Bassist David Pulphus plays few solos on the disc, but his solid walking lines are enough to make up for it. Drummer Kevin O'Day drives the ensemble with his crisp, energetic and colorful drumming style that provides a variety of feels for the group without getting in the way of any of the melodies or soloists.

TRACK HIGHLIGHTS: The opening track "The Bywater" is a clever and relaxed tune that is well written and the simple harmonic movement allows every soloist to really get their feet wet. A swinging number, "A Little Bit Tall" showcases the interaction of the rhythm section behind Ashlar's stellar piano solo. The title track "Without Reason" is a wonderfully constructed ballad that makes the album for me lead by Ankrum's earthy tenor sound. "Baklava Blues" follows the altered blues changes of a "Bird Blues" and adds and 8-bar bridge to make the a long AABA, 12-12-8-12 measure, form. A modern waltz, "Three Wishes", comes as a nice surprise in the middle of the disc. The grooving and modern "New Toy" allows Ankrum and Ashlar to extend and explore their respective harmonic vocabularies while Pulphus and O'Day faithfully fill their explore the boundaries of roles. The heavy and dark "Alyona's Tears" is aptly named and serves as opportunity for Ashlar to reach deep into his harmonic vocabulary and feature his classical training and for O'Day to explore the dark colors of drums. A second-line New Orleans street beat with a twist, "Rakin' the Yard" is a great way to close the disc.