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Rolling Jazz Revue | Elephants In The Crosswalk

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Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz Jazz: Mainstream Jazz Moods: Mood: Fun
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Elephants In The Crosswalk

by Rolling Jazz Revue

Jazz built around memorable songs ranging from straight-ahead to freeform to sci-fi
Genre: Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Two Strangers
7:43 $0.89
2. Safety In Motian
6:52 $0.89
3. My Recurring Dream
6:31 $0.89
4. City Beneath The Sea
5:41 $0.89
5. Fate Plixin
5:54 $0.89
6. Asylum Lake
7:12 $0.89
7. Elephants In The Crosswalk
7:44 $0.89
8. Theme From 'Every Mother's Daughter'
6:26 $0.89
9. Hotel El Morillo
7:33 $0.89
10. Slow Dance, No Dance
8:32 $0.89
11. Sara 'N' Me
6:58 $0.89
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Newt Johnson - piano, electric piano;
Ben Cohen - tenor saxophone;
Brian Palmieri - drums;
Jim Cavender - electric bass, bass VI, electric guitar.

Special Guests:
Michael Kennedy - theremin;
Terri Cavender - flute.

Rolling Jazz Revue (rjr) is made up of hyper-creative guys who are constantly writing songs, learning new instruments, experimenting with guest musicians, bouncing ideas off of each other, recording and performing. They had a great time putting this CD together, and it shows. The instrumentation and arrangements often make you laugh and wonder where they're going, but then as you listen you realize the band knows exactly where it's taking you.

The group recorded some of the songs with structured shifting background textures, while they left others as simpler arrangements allowing the players to stretch out and solo a little longer. The use of theremin, an instrument requiring the musician to position his or her hand in an electrical field to hit different pitches (used often in old science fiction B-movies) and the twangy bass VI, a guitar tuned down a whole octave (used in western soundtracks) hints at the influence of exotica without diluting the jazz content.

The title track, "Elephants In The Crosswalk", was inspired when pianist Newt Johnson got stuck in a traffic jam in downtown Huntsville, Alabama, where traffic jams never occur. He rightfully wondered, "What could possibly be the problem?" and looked up to see elephants in the crosswalk ahead; the tune captures the situation perfectly. He also wrote a tribute to renowned drummer and bandleader Paul Motian, "Safety In Motian", which starts off free-form before launching into mid-tempo swing, then back to free again at the end. "Two Strangers" with its hovering theremin can be placed firmly in the genre of sci-fi jazz. "Theme From 'Every Mother's Daughter'" is a folkish overture to a yet-to-be-filmed movie. "My Recurring Dream" is a semi-improvised round of at least four distinct melodies, while "Slow Dance, No Dance" is a modernist free excursion built on a melody that reveals the influence of old-fashioned Broadway show tunes.

Building on the experience of their monthly sets at Huntsville's Flying Monkey Arts, rjr has put together an album that changes in mood and texture from song to song like a well-paced concert. It's a sure bet that their original tunes will stay in your head for good. If you like jazz built around memorable songs, you've come to the right place.



to write a review

Ken Watters

This is GREAT writing / hits both sides of your brain...
It seems like a great many pre-formed, HIGHLY rehearsed jazz units tend to naturally gravitate toward slightly too much perfectionism from time to time. And, many absolutely ACHIEVE this mind-blowingly tight, but "emotionally forgotten by the next morning" level. You remember being highly IMPRESSED, but do you remember FEELING anything new as a result of recently taking in this music?

Here’s the antidote – a well-rehearsed jazz quartet that plays THROUGH-COMPOSED music (no lazy writers here), and leaves you somewhere viscerally different than before hearing their music…
Rolling Jazz Review has REALLY got something. Jim is pretty obviously (to the objective listener) the band's "North Star" (no offense, y'all), but ALL members have a highly unique & indispensible voice all their own as well. And, what makes it all the better is that these guys write music FOR THIS BAND / FOR THESE SPECIFIC PLAYERS. Good cue to take from Duke Ellington, right?

Admittedly, I am REALLY a virgin with this CD - only scanned it once through - but, I could hear some obvious & subtle cues that kept-at-bay what COULD HAVE become a bit "heady" in places FLAT ON THE GROUND when things needed to be reeled in a touch. And, ONLY when that needed to be done, by the way. If things ever get a little too Keith Jarrett "Fort Yawuh" era sounding, Jim will IMMEDIATELY take you out west for a second to remind yourself of who you are (or who you want or aspire to be, anyway)... Then, who knows – Yawuh again, perhaps?

Newt Johnson is truly emerging as a stylist with a deliberate & VERY recognizable approach to phrasing - he actually THINKS before running his s**t! (How many pros out there can claim THAT? My hand isn't up!) It's refreshing & ATTENTION-GRABBING to hear Newt solo - he'll draw you in, then make you WAIT for what he's going to say next (you know it's going to be worth it). He's the Jimmy Carter of the piano/organ!

With every RJR recording, tenor player Ben Cohen's sound & approach are noticeably more mature. He IS markedly influenced by several players / heroes that he most definitely is well-aware of, but he is ANOTHER quartet member who is developing (in real time here) a voice all his own. And, he has a challenging (no "Mr. Magic" or anything happening here) & CONCEPT-STRETCHING place to go through the growth spurt that he's obviously hitting right now (at the right age), as we have the great good fortune to watch it happen... This is a lucky place for a young player to land, folks.
At Ben’s age, most sax players are busy learning the correct/standard keys to "I Will Survive," "Dancing Queen" & "Brick House," so as to get that phone ringin’!!! Lots of musicians, at Cohen’s age & stage, are tragically beginning to (in a sense) “forget” about the artistic part of music – that scary time to make a LIVING is fast approaching, so most do what needs done to get the commercial work.
And, we're beginning to wonder if (at 13 or 14 years old) we decided to be musicians TO PLAY BRICK HOUSE EVERY SATURDAY... Big question there – every musician faces it sooner or later…
I venture that most of us DID NOT go into this life for that end goal... (We all do gigs like that from time to time, though - I know that MY tux is always ready to GO, come Saturday!)
I should point out - those sorts of gigs DO pay well. This is our consolation/compensation for our youthful, idealistic & CORRECT dreams of youth somehow going horribly awry...

SO – on the contrary, RJR it a "workshop" in a sense, but a LISTENABLE, MARKETABLE & most of all FUN band. And they're a damned JAZZ GROUP! Who's ever heard of an even REMOTELY "deep" & "fun" JAZZ GROUP? It's usually one or the other, folks... Either too much fun or too DEEP to keep “normal folks” awake.
In the end, of course, the band MUST play music that pleases them FIRST & FOREMOST. Self-gratification? NO! Who really wants to go hear live musicians who aren't truly enjoying themselves? One thing is for SURE - when a band (any style in the world) is having fun up there, it WILL touch someone in the audience.
Every tune on this latest effort sounds like the band, although tackling challenging material, was having an absolute BALL.

I did neglect to get to Brian Palmieri, drummer extrordinaire... Being from Humtsville myself, I was FLOORED the first time we played together - this YOUNG cat knows how to play with a TRUMPETER (not all drummers do, either)... He is SENSITIVE to any & everything going on around him, SELECTIVE about what to strongly react to & what not to, and makes the trumpeter REALLY "turn up the heat" before he'll start giving him some heat in return - the mark of a musician who matured YOUNG... Brian is testing the waters now in Chicago, where we're all certain that he'll do well - we wish him all the best. (All he has to do is show up, be a nice guy & PLAY. The rest will fall into place...)

ANYWAY, buy this CD. You should really buy both RJR CDs, but Jim Cavender would know best which to start with - I'm leaning toward "Halloween..." The band has grown between these recordings & the growth is fun to measure....

Jim (again, the quartet's musical "compass") NEVER, EVER stops growing. I've know him since I was about 14 & he's always (and unintentionally) left me feel kind of guilty in that regard - I just WISH that I had that perfectly balanced combination of creativity AND motivation - SIMULTAENEOUSLY, as Jim does...
Oh - one more thing... This DOES stand up to repeated listenings - in fact, it REQUIRES this at times, in order to fully grasp some of the "sensible left turns" that are heard here & there...
-K. Wattters

amy mccarley

cracked out rocking, swinging jazz that lets you down easy. music you could rob a bank, cook a great meal, throw a cocktail party, or have a date to....