Jan 29, 2011

Jay T. Vonada Quartet: Jammin'

"What's compelling here is the easygoing groove and relaxed interplay between the musicians."
Label: Self-Produced
Personnel: Jay T. Vonada, trombone/Adam Kurland, keyboards/Jacob Hibel, bass/John Sullivan, drums
Genre: Straught-ahead jazz
Recommended for: everyone

From seemingly out of nowhere comes trombonist Jay Vonada, a native of the central Pennsylvania town of Aaronsburg. He won a scholarship to study at the Berklee College of Music and has played with such jazz luminaries as saxman Bob Mintzer and vocalist Catherine Dupuis.  But his debut  CD, "Jammin," is a homegrown, self-produced affair, and it's a winner.
"Jammin'" is comprised of eight tunes composed by Vonada, a J.J. Johnson-influenced player who clearly favors a straight-ahead style with tinges of Latin and a little funk. Things get started with the simply titled "A Blues," which features a nicely swinging solo by Vonada accompanied by bandmates Adam Kurland on keyboards, Jacob Hibel on bass and John Sullivan on drums. What's compelling here is the easygoing groove and relaxed interplay between the musicians. A real highlight is Kurland's  playing on what sounds like a Fender Rhodes electric piano, giving the whole affair a bit of a '70s, Vince Guaraldi-esque feel.

Next up is "Three Tons," a slightly more uptempo number that again leads off with a nimble solo by Vonada, followed by a subtle but compelling turn by Kurland, this time on  acoustic piano.  Quicker still is the next track, "Anthracite," in which Hibel and Sullivan get to strut their stuff as a more-than able rhythm section driving the beat behind Vonada and Kurland. 

Perhaps the best track is "Mina," which features Kurland on a Hammond B3 organ. The upbeat melody, like all of Vonada's tunes, is deceptively simple, but somehow, in combining the B3 and Vonada's trombone, the group finds a sound that is fresh and uniquely its own.

The tracks here are short; most clock in at around four minutes. But that's all the time Vonada and his bandmates need to get their message across: They may be from the hinterlands of Pennsylvania, but these guys know how to play.

-Tony Rogers

No comments:

Post a Comment