Javier Vercher | Wish You Were Here

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Wish You Were Here

by Javier Vercher

The Williamsburg, Brooklyn émigré relishes free playing for its unpredictability and intuitiveness and the feeling of discovery.
Genre: Jazz: Contemporary Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Vivi
Lionel Loueke
7:22 $0.99
2. Wish You Were Here
Javier Vercher
8:10 $0.99
3. Magicians of Sound
Javier Vercher
4:50 $0.99
4. Ears of a Distant Traveler
Javier Vercher
7:50 $0.99
5. Blue Heron
Javier Vercher
7:27 $0.99
6. Ahi Donde Vive Joe
Javier Vercher
5:32 $0.99
7. Style and Grace
Javier Vercher
9:16 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

Tenor saxophonist Javier Vercher, is a pure-hearted jazz man, whose approach embraces both the avant-garde and the old school. The Williamsburg, Brooklyn émigré relishes free playing for its unpredictability and intuitiveness, the feeling of discovery, and the instant rapport with his fellow players. But his gradually unfolding soundscapes also have an emotional gravity to them and, at times, a palpable sense of the spiritual. Each is a wordless narrative; the starting point is often real life.

“Wish You Were Here,” for example, was inspired by his recent travels through South America backing Spanish pop star Alejandro Sanz. It also serves as the opening track for Vercher’s self-produced new album, I Wish You Were Here. Vercher leads an impressive line-up of bold-faced names, indicative of how highly he has come to be regarded in New York City’s jazz community. Joining him are bassist Larry Grenadier, guitarist Lionel Loueke, keyboardist Sam Yahel and drummer Francisco Mela, along with other guest players. Vercher penned all the tracks except “Vivi,” composed by old friend and former Berklee classmate Loueke. The climactic track, “Turning Toward Kindness,” is a haunting, percussion-laden contemplation of a poem by Rumi. Vercher brought in music therapist Brian Schreck, whose day job is tending to hospice patients, to read Rumi’s stirring words.

Vercher has already cultivated a serious buzz overseas, especially in Europe and South America, via extensive touring and festival dates with various jazz combos. He also regularly travels with pop artists like Sanz. The Village Voice has described Vercher as “a feisty player, willing to get bruised up a bit for his art.” He’s released three albums on the Fresh Sound label. Introducing Javier Vercher, is a trio date with special contributions from pianist Robert Glasper and drummer Bob Moses. His second, The Wheel of Time, is a collaboration with drummer Ferenc Nementh, featuring such guest stars as guitarist Loueke and legendary sixties songwriter Chip Taylor. Reviewing the last album mentioned, All About Jazz declared, “The setting is simple: saxophone, drums/percussion, and occasional guitar; but the results are profound and from the start it's clear that this is something different.” “Infinita” is the third album with alto saxophonist Perico Sambeat, Edward Perez on bass and Eric McPherson on drums.

Vercher was born in Madrid but raised in Valencia. His father, a successful performer and arranger, may have instilled his son with a sense of wanderlust. More specifically, though, he gave the younger Vercher an appreciation of music by enrolling Javier in a school of music, to study the classics and learn the clarinet, when Javier was just five. Perhaps more importantly than any educational opportunities he proffered, says Vercher, his family “had the whole collection of Weather Report, lots of John Coltrane and Keith Jarrett on vinyl at home.”

By the time he was 18, Vercher had graduated with a degree in classical clarinet studies from the Joaquin Rodrigo Conservatory of Valencia and began to explore “a freer style of music.” He started playing tenor sax and attended jazz seminars in Spain with such visiting teachers as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Chris Cheek and Jorge Pardo. A year later, he was on his way, scholarship in hand, to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. Towards the end of his time in Boston, he was invited to play with drummer Bob Moses, New England Conservatory instructor and bonafide jazz legend; that sparked an ongoing relationship with Moses as student, fellow player and friend. Declares Vercher, “It was one of the most powerful musical experiences I had ever had. He (Moses) helped me understand music in a more organic and spiritual way, and I hope to keep growing in that direction.” In 2007, Vercher was awarded the prestigious Best Breakthrough Award at the Spanish Tete Montoliu Biennel, an event dedicated to the Catalunyan jazz pianist and composer Tete Montoliu. Its mission is to perpetuate Montoliu’s legacy through the encouragement of the talents of today's young jazz musicians.

Vercher has kept up his travels -- hitting the road again with Sanz or organizing jazz dates in Europe – but his goal to play right where he lives, for a wider audience in his adopted home of New York City. Consider I Wish You Were Here his homecoming.


by Glenn Daniels
Javier Vercher – Wish You Were Here
Saxophonist Javier Vercher blends the sound of the avant-garde with the more traditional fair for a thoroughly enticing recording. Wishing You Were Here is a compelling document of the compositional and playing talents of the Brookyln- based Vercher, who wrote all but one of tunes on the production. Additionally, the grade-A musicianship of guitarist Lionel Loueke (who contributes vocal accompaniment and one of the tunes), bassist Larry Grenadier, drummer Francisco Mela and keyboardist Sam Yahel really complement Vercher’s rich warm tone and ethereal sonic forays. An outstanding musical venture.

Javier Vercher – Wish You Were Here [TrackList follows] – Musikoz
Mainstream jazz with an undercurrent of edginess.

Tenor saxophonist Javier Vercher unites two sides of jazz. On the one side, he’s fond of melodic music with straightforward motion: pleasant, no overt surprises, splendidly swinging. On the other hand, the Brooklyn-via-Spain Vercher likes unpredictability and going into areas where instantaneous, sometimes discordant, improvisation is important. Both aspects of Vercher’s musical personality are layered into the tenor saxophonist’s fourth effort as leader, the hour-long Wish You Were Here (recorded in 2008; released overseas in 2010; issued stateside this year). There are ballads; there is jazz poetry; there is hummable, post-bop artistry. Anyone interested in a preview should watch an online promo video which explains the record’s background and showcases in-studio performances. Vercher’s creativity is abetted by a sympathetic group consisting of Benin- born acoustic guitarist Lionel Loueke (who can sound like Earl Klugh or a wilder Pat Metheny); pianist Sam Yahel (featured on five tracks: he is also known as a Hammond organist); double bassist Larry Grenadier (he was previously in pianist Brad Mehldau’s trio, and has done sessions with Larry Vuckovich, Joshua Redman, Enrico Rava, and others); and drummer Francisco Mela (his résumé includes saxophonist Joe Lovano and Chris Crocco). Vercher also utilizes guests on a few other cuts to add spice to the proceedings.
Wish You Were Here (which can be streamed in full online) begins with Loueke’s sole contribution, the warm and tender “Vivi” (all other compositions were penned by Vercher). This sincere outing has a light, Latin touch via Loueke’s guitar (on this piece, Loueke evokes the smoothness of Ricardo Silveira), while Vercher advances into slightly sharper topography, achieving an earthy and soaring tone. Mela bounces his sticks in an assertive way and is assisted by percussionist Arturo Stable. When Yahel takes the spotlight, there’s a suggestion of Mehldau. There are also wordless vocals which bubble underneath, imparting a crumb of unconventionality. The title track (which has no apparent connection to the Pink Floyd album with the same name) has a similar approach, with cozy acoustic guitar; lots of cymbals from Mela; balmy bass lines; and Vercher’s ear-catching sax lines (he seems like a cross between early Stan Getz and Dexter Gordon). More wordless vocals sneak in, when Loueke solos. The interplay of acoustic guitar and tenor sax is a highlight of the nearly-eight-minute “Ears of a Distant Traveler,” although the harmonic vocalizations get uncomfortably close to Keith Jarrett territory. Vercher kicks things up several notches on the upbeat “Ahí Donde Vive Joe,” a bop-inclined burner where Vercher and Yahel trade lines; Yahel supplies some seriously good vamping; and the rhythm section keeps everything clicking along with agility. Vercher and his band end the regular program with the quietly stunning and aptly-named “Style & Grace.” Loueke commences with a beautiful acoustic guitar intro; then bass, sax, and drums enter to furnish more stirring music. Yahel is not present and Vercher and Loueke shine throughout: Vercher is particularly worth mentioning when he occasionally treads away from the main theme to craft somewhat rougher sounds.

There are two bonus cuts and this is where Vercher stretches beyond expectations. These two numbers, in fact, may throw some off-track. But that’s probably Vercher’s intent. First is the ghostly, percussion-loaded “Turning Towards Kindness No. VIII,” where guest vocalist Brian Schreck reads a poem by 14th-century Persian author Jelaluddin Rumi, while Vercher’s arrangement concentrates on liquid-like percussion, some breathy sax and production/mix trickery to provide a contemporary patina. Vercher shows his freer jazz predisposition on “Rio Blanco No. IX”. The nine-minute tune launches in a relaxed manner, with easeful sax and nicely-plucked guitar, but bit by bit tension builds, just a hint, but little by little the sax and piano indicate oncoming conflict. Seven minutes into the piece, that dissonance is headfirst, although even so, there is stabilization via bass and drums. On Wish You Were Here, Vercher and his allies establish a successful balance between satiating jazz which should appeal to mainstream listeners, with moments of explorative space which never goes out of control.

—Doug Simpson

By Chris Spector
JAVIER VERCHER/Wish You Were Here: This sax man gets extra points for liking free jazz but liking his audience just as much and not wanting to assault them with fusillades that make things roll off the rails. Improv work that sounds like it was composed and thought out, this date, abetted by some stellar players you know, hits all the right notes and does a really impressive job of it by turning in a set of all originals that hold your attention. Hot stuff that redefines the cool.



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