Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

MATT RENZI

Rise and Shine

2014-02-28

I'll cut to the chase: there's one piece on Matt Renzi's album Rise and Shine that I wholeheartedly recommend. That's the first cut,  "Noasis". I'm guessing that's pronounced with three syllables, to rhyme with oasis, but I don't actually know. On Noasis you'll hear the sort of melody, rhythm, and harmonies that don't scare people away.  The other 7 tracks feature the sort of tuneless chaotic noodling that disenchants so many of the people who otherwise find lots to like in many jazz styles.

Matt Renzi is the composer of all the tracks on Rise and Shine. He plays wind instruments, mostly the reeds (tenor sax, oboe, clarinet) but also flute. Renzi comes from San Francisco. The other members of his trio come from New York. They are Dave Ambrosio on bass and Russ Meissner on drums. You'll also hear Giridhar Udupa doing what he calls "vocal percussion" and what I call scat. Rounding out the performers on Noasis is A.R. Balaskandan on the South Indian mridangam, a wooden double-headed drum.  (The dictionary at www.m-w.com can pronounce that word for you.)

Noasis sounds like it is going somewhere. Even if it never gets there, it entertains along the way. Renzi's tenor sax tells a story, and the percussionists keep it grounded. As with many traditional jazz pieces, It states a theme to start, explores the theme, restates it again. Finally Riridhar Udupa takes over for a full minute with his vocal percussion, a scat-like that comes in on the tail end of the sax melody then stands on its own.

Recommended: Track 1 "Noasis" (4:16).

---Gerald Etkind

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