Curtis Nowosad’s contribution to the literature of drums is a “those you love” programme spiced with more ambitious and imaginative choices. The album in question is Dialectics. The syllogism is jazz and the proof of swing is the effervescent panache with which Mr. Nowosad’s generates exactly the right level of combustive power. This kind of playing is familiar to the New York cognoscenti: Donny McCaslin, George Colligan, Dave Douglas and Steve Wilson, and NEA Jazz Masters, Candido Camero and Jimmy Owens for whom he has added rhythmic machismo, distinctive, expressive content and scorching bravura to the music that those well-known musicians have masterfully created. The works on this sophomore album represent a considerable leap of faith for the drummer, whose debut was a set of well-conceived covers. He gives a fine account of himself here, on this album for which he has composed no less than five of the nine charts recorded here. By itself, this would be nothing much to write home about, but Mr. Nowosad displays remarkable skill and a sense of drama that coalesces in a thoughtful, most dynamic and desirous package. No wonder the Cellar Live label showed enthusiasm in putting this album out.
To say that Curtis Nowosad has one foot in so-called “straight-ahead jazz” is something of an understatement. He is actually firmly planted there. The Buddy Rich-dominated drumming environment seems to have fostered him before he came of age, so to speak. Now he very much a 21st Century drummer who is worldly wise, in fact a drummer who has a finger firmly planted on the pulse of the proud and articulate and mother-of-all drumming language spoken in the place from whence it all came: Africa. Exciting? That too is an understatement when applied to Curtis Nowosad. His highly articulated style is comprised of sizzling cymbal-work, dynamic tattooing of his battery of drums that as drum sets go today is leaner than you would imagine. It is to his credit therefore that he is able to get the enormous cascade of sound that is coaxed out of this instrument. Add to that Mr. Nowosad’s extroverted musicianship and this makes for an infectious exuberance to the leadership he exerts over his ensemble. This is exactly the formula for success and Mr. Nowosad is enjoying oodles of it now that this record is out.
The sextet plays quite unreservedly and it has more than one musician to thank for that. Admittedly Curtis Nowosad’s effervescence exerts a considerable influence on this, but there is also saxophonist Jimmy Greene whose broad, sinuous and passionate caressing of melodies adds uniform weightiness to charts such as Wayne Shorter’s “Speak No Evil” where would have been severely tested, coming on the heels of the great composer’s multiphonics. And Mr. Greene acquits himself with distinction. The saxophonist’s tempo-management, articulation of melodic design and assessment of harmonic weight unfolds the substance of the music. Of the leader’s compositions, both “Dialectics” and “Dreaming & Gleaning” stand out. There is rhythmic vitality in each of the charts as well as dynamic markings appearing to offer intimations of freedom. Again, Jimmy Greene puts considerable meat on the bone here. But it is Curtis Nowosad’s record after all. The singularity of his performances stake his claim to being in the top draw of drummers, not the least because of the provocative interpretations of his mature compositions as well.
Track List: Speak No Evil; Empirically Speaking; Dialectics; 159 & St. Nick; A Casual Test; Reconciliation; Bye-Ya; Gleaning & Dreaming; I Remember You
Personnel: Jimmy Greene: tenor and soprano saxophones; Derrick Gardner: trumpet; Will Bonness: piano; Steve Kirby: acoustic bass; Curtis Nowosad: drums
Label: Cellar Live | Release date: January 2015
Website: http://curtisnowosad.com/ | Buy music on: amazon
About Curtis Nowosad
New York-based drummer, composer, and bandleader, Curtis Nowosad, has developed a reputation as a highly-skilled, versatile, and forward-thinking musician. A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Curtis became recognized as one of the faces of the new generation of jazz players in Canada, and he has performed with such world-class jazz musicians as Philip Harper, Donny McCaslin, Stefon Harris, Miguel Zenón, Jack Wilkins, George Colligan, Dave Douglas, and Steve Wilson. He has performed with two NEA Jazz Masters, Candido Camero and Jimmy Owens, and recently recorded with a third, pianist Kenny Barron. Read more…