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Gregg August

13 mai 2013
Four by Six
Gregg August © Jazz Hot n°663, printemps 2013
Affirmation, For Calle Picota, For Max, Bandolim, Strange Street, A Ballad For MV, Relative Obscurity, For Miles
Gregg August (b), Luis Perdomo (p) + Sam Newsome (ss), E.J. Strickland (dm) ; John Bailey (tp), Yosvanny Terry (as), JD Allen (ts), Rudy Royston (dm)
Recorded June 29 & September 27, 2011, Union City (NJ)
Duration : 55’ 46’’
Iacuessa Records 2966 (

August’s two previous albums, One Peace and Late August, showed an inspired vision of contemporary jazz that managed to balance freshness with a deep awareness of musical roots. This album is further evidence of an indisputable talent for leadership, giving shape to the music with a sense of purpose without the corresponding weakness for shallow showing-off. Gregg August’s background involves a large Latin experience, as well as classical, which may account for a certain rhythmic complexity and discipline, opting for strong beats and slightly off-the-wall grooves. The writing is consistently interesting, favouring rhythmical eventfulness over melody. But Gregg August is not only the organising mind behind the music, he also comes out as a powerful soloist (‘Strange Street’, ‘Relative Obscurity’) and an accompanist of nimble muscularity. He has gathered a team of great musicians to interpret his music. Newsome is particularly spectacular with majestic soloing and a unique sound, showing his mastery of the soprano horn and bringing true personality to the table — he really soars on ‘For Calle Picota’ and ‘Strange Street’. The quartet tracks are especially rewarding as they feature great arrangements with a monkish proclivity and spontaneous improvisations. The sextet tracks can have a drier sound (as in ‘Bandolim’, with some free blowing by John Bailey in the manner of Don Cherry) and possibly less riveting soloing. The seriousness of the music could sometimes benefit from more bluesy warmth. This well-crafted album reveals a musician whose individuality and inventiveness are in synch with contemporary developments without altogether plunging into novelty. The sign of a mature musician, no doubt.
Jean Szlamowicz