James McGowan Ensemble - 'Reaching In' Review | Opinions | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

James McGowan Ensemble – ‘Reaching In’ Review

James McGowan Ensemble - 'Reaching In' Review | Opinions | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS
3.8
Stars

Even some core jazz fans often shy away from what is called big band jazz, often associating it with swing-era band leader music like Glen Miller.

Yet, modern jazz music involving a larger group or ensemble is often much more adventurous and forward-looking than some might expect. Consider the music of Maria Schneider or that Charles Tolliver has been making in recent times. And if such a group is not located in a city that is often considered as a big jazz center, the possibility of getting the attention of discerning jazz fans lessens even further.

Hopefully, that is not what is going to happen to piano player/director James Mc Gowan and his Ensemble, as he and most of his 13-piece ensemble are located in Canada’s capital Ottawa, not exactly renowned as a big jazz center.

Yet, the music McGowan and his Ensemble create on their latest album simply titled Reaching In can stand up to any innovative jazz concepts involving a mid-sized ensemble.

In this case, it is actually two quartets (the Modasaurus jazz-fusion quartet joining with the Despax string quartet) and a number of solo artists.

Just by looking at the composition of the band, the listener can get the idea that McGowan and his collaborators here are leaning in the direction of a combination that relies mainly on jazz and modern classical music, but the ability, knowledge, and inventiveness of all the musicians involved allows them to branch out in as many directions as the saw/heard fit on this 16-track album, including spoken word.

Essentially, Reaching In, as this album’s title, truly fits the music contained within, as reaches in quite deeply into what fusion of different music genres should be about.

James McGowan Ensemble - 'Reaching In' Review | Opinions | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS
James McGowan Ensemble – ‘Reaching In’ Review
Conclusion
On 'Reaching In' James McGowan Ensemble reach in deep into the innovative spaces between jazz and modern classical music.
3.8
Stars
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