Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Review: Mike Moynihan and Creosote Jazz Collective at the Tucson Jazz Festival

In a prior "review" of Valentines Eye by Kitty LaRoar I commented that since I'm a musician (and not a critic) I don't do reviews. But, here I go again with a "review" of Mike Moynihan and the Creosote Jazz Collective at the 2017 Tucson Jazz Festival (TJF). They played at the Downtown Jazz Fiesta for MLK Day on the Connect Coworking Stage. My reviews are only of performances I like so in that sense, I'm not a critic.

What I liked about Mike Moynihan and his group was the blend of instruments and the beautiful sound they produced. The key to this great sound was Mike's decision to choose vibraphone and guitar for the septet. Listen to the video above. It is just selections from a few pieces, but I hope it gives you a sense of the beautiful sound, blend and interaction achieved by the group. I wish I had a complete recording of the entire hour (Mike tells me he is working on getting the full hour on line). Some beautiful moments, particularly in the endings where Tristan Rogers uses the vibraphone's motor, were missed. I hope at some time in the future, Mike records with this group, maybe even in a live, rather than a studio session. It's not easy to create this great a sound in a live setting and when you succeed it creates an exciting recording.

The interaction between guitarist Matt Mitchell and vibraphonist Tristan Rogers is important to appreciate. The guitar and vibraphone can both be played as chordal instruments. They can also be used to play only single-note, horn-like improvisational lines. Mitchell and Rogers used both approaches and never stepped on each other. Their interaction allowed Mike to sail over the top and allowed the rhythm section (Nathan Hooker on drums and Jack Wood on bass) to stay solid underneath. If you play any of these instruments and are a jazz musician, the Creosote Collective is worth your study.

Mike's first recording, Chronicles, got great reviews (here). You can download a copy of Chronicles from CdBaby here. You can read Mike's biography here.

The Creosote Jazz Collective consists of:

Nathan Hooker - drums
Matt Mitchell - guitar
Michael Moynihan - saxophone 
Tristan Rogers - vibraphone
Jack Wood - bass

Selections played at TJF (in set order with composers):

1. Wax and Wayne (Moynihan)
2. The Sickness (Moynihan)
3. The Infinite (Rogers)
4. To The Stars (Moynihan)
5. Kindness (Moynihan)
6: I Have A Dream (Moynihan)

As an extra treat, all the selections were original compositions by Moynihan and Rogers. They were all great! I wish I could play each one of them for you (if Mike gets the full set on line, I'll review each song in a future post)!

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