Arturo Vera / Ethan Mann: Acoustic Project (2012)
All About Jazz
Published: September 2, 2010
Ethan Mann/ Self produced
It's All About a Groove is all about three self-effacing musicians having a fine time playing some music that burns with a cold fire, and swinging, sometimes with a fair gusto. Most of all this date is about uncomplicated, yet attractive improvisation, as a group that rarely veers far from the melody, but ventures far enough to create the right kind of buzz. Ethan Mann is a guitarist who has a lot to say in a voice that is uncompromisingly his own. But he prefers brevity to the filigreed approach, and makes statements innovatively, but succinctly. His harmonic conception relies on depth of color rather than myriad shades, and with restrained brush strokes he is able to generate a greater buzz than expected. His single note approach with some bent notes and a whisper of tremolo appears to suit the more heavy hand of Chip Crawford on the Hammond B3. Crawford can swing with the best and while he eschews the virtuoso playing style of Jimmy Smith and Lonnie Smith, he also comes from a deeply spiritual background albeit with a lighter touch, somewhat reminiscent of Papa Joe DeFrancesco. His solo on “Stop, Look, Listen to Your Heart” best describes the fluent style, light of touch and with nuanced expression that Crawford applies with suave grace throughout the album. Of course, drummer, Greg Bandy has the funk and the groove that is the glue which holds this small unit together. It is no coincidence, then, that a phrase from the vocal on his “Woman Please” comes to characterize the entire album, as he sings how he came to write the piece in question. Bandy is an old soul who plays with fire and a great deal of dexterity. He plays with the deep sense of appealing to the rhythm of the saints, tapping out a swinging litany that accompanies his urgent prayer and sermon that he appears to preach in “Woman Please.” It's All About a Groove is one of those rare records that comes straight from--and aiming its musical missives straight at--the heart. This in itself is very rare in a day and age full of posturing and trying to be something that one is not. Three cheers for the blue notes and blue color blues here. Track Listing: Foxy; What Are You Doing For The Rest of Your Life; Betcha By Golly Wow; People Make The World Go 'Round; Stop, Look, Listen With Your Heart; Woman Please; Blues for Now; The Look of Love; Minor Steps; Easy Living; You and the Night and the Music. Personnel: Ethan Mann: guitar; Chip Crawford: keyboards: Greg Bandy: drums.
By Raul d'Gama Rose
There are some things in this world that at first appear to be encased in mystery, the secrets of which can only be revealed by the "experts" — free-verse poetry, modern art, okra. It turns out that no special knowledge is required to appreciate these things. You've just got to be open to a slight shift in perspective, allowing your concept of "fun" to expand.
This is an attitude that the jazz neophyte needs to be made aware of. Too often the genre is presented as this ultra-technical discipline that can only be fully appreciated and understood after years of study.
Yeah sure...diatonic scales, modes, chord substitutions, polyrhythms — they all describe the music. What they don't do is look into its essence. Can the concept of "groove" be mapped out in this way? Probably. Should it? Can a highly esoteric discussion of rhythms and their relationship to song structures be used to get at why a song with a full-on groove makes you want to get up on the coffee table and wave around the back of your front side? Obviously not!
None of this should imply that the musicians don't know their stuff. Guitarist Ethan Mannand his trio have decades of experience playing with the likes of Patience Higgins, Gary Bartz, Maria Schneider, Javon Jackson, and Pharoah Sanders. Still, all of the name-dropping in the world can't trump this simple fact:Its' All About A Groove will make those body parts wave.
The album starts off right in the pocket with Mann's "Foxy." With the loose-but-tight interplay between Mann and keyboardist Crawford, I'm immediately reminded of the great Wynton Kelly Trio record Smokin' At The Half Note, which featured Wes Montgomery. Not a bad way to get things going. This feel is maintained even during knottier compositions such as Crawford's "Minor Steps." The standout original here is Greg Bandy's "Woman Please." It's a nasty little tune that burns the groove down in a James Blood Ulmer sort of way. Bandy even provides some vocals. When he calls out for "some of that stinkin' organ," you just know you're in the middle of some serious fun.
Mann has made some terrific choices in the covers department with selections from the Stylistics songbook ("People Make The World Go 'Round", "Betcha By Golly Wow," "Stop, Look, Listen To Your Heart"), Michel Legrand's "What Are You Doing For The Rest Of Your Life," and a slinky take on the Bacharach/David classic "The Look of Love." The latter tune serves up a great keyboard solo that manages to take things "out" without losing the vibe for a single second.
That's what it's all about, isn't it? It's not press rolls on the snare, or tricky key signature changes, or any of that stuff. Beginners and experts alike should just listen with their body. With grooves this intense, it'll know what to do.
Published: July 7, 2010
It’s All About a Groove is an entertaining new album by New York based guitarist, and Vermont native, Ethan Mann. Mann, who relocated to New York in 1991, currently leads the organ trio featured on this recording, consisting of Chip Crawford, keyboards, and Greg Bandy, drums. A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, Mann has studied with such jazz guitar luminaries as Rodney Jones and Jack Wilkins, and is currently on faculty at Crestwood Music Education Center and Manna House Workshops in East Harlem. The album starts off with the Gospel tinged “Foxy.” Throughout the tune, and the rest of the album, Mann and Crawford react well to each other, their solos helping to maintain the steady shuffle groove that defines the chart. Another highlight on the album is the Samba treatment given to the classic jazz standard “What Are You Doing for the Rest of Your Life.” This type of groove might not be expected on a tune like this, but it works very well. Each soloist is right on the money, each taking new and interesting harmonic turns in both the solo lines and the accompaniment. The album features some enjoyable original compositions by the members of the trio, including “Woman Please,” “Blues for Now” and “Minor Steps.” There is a section of music from the book of the Stylistics, “Betcha by Golly Wow,” “People Make The World Go Round” and “Stop, Look, Listen To Your Heart,” as well as jazz standards such as “The Look of Love” and “Easy Living.” Mann’s trio work is reminiscent of the idiomatic vibe of the ‘60’s jazzers in both sound and style. His tone is bright and punchy, which contrasts well with Crawford’s rich organ sound. This group interacts on a deep level due to their time spent together on the bandstand, adding another level of interest to the album. Though the drums can be a bit busy at times, the high level of musical energy coming from the trio prevents it from becoming overwhelming.
It's All About a Groove
Ethan Mann Petunia Records (2010)
It's All About A Groove
Ethan Mann | Self Produced (2010)
Personnel: Ethan Mann: guitar; Chip Crawford: keyboards; Greg Bandy: drums.
While plenty of jazz fans are schooled musicians, an even greater number don't have significant training—or any training, for that matter—in music. These people might not know chord progressions or specific rhythmic patterns, but they do know if music feels good. When songs are stripped to their bare essence, the groove is often what creates the groundwork for everything else and allows the music to take shape. Guitarist Ethan Mann clearly agrees with this idea and made it the central theme on It's All About A Groove, but he doesn't sacrifice all of the other elements that add up to great music. This eleven-song program touches on everything from standards to The Stylistics—the Philadelphia based vocal soul group that had some success in the '70s—and the band sounds like its having a blast working its way through all of it. Mann's "Foxy" opens the album, and drummer Greg Bandy's light, shuffling ride cymbal—constantly evolving and avoiding stale repetition—keeps things interesting. Mann's sound on his solo leans toward a blues-rock vein, while organist/keyboardist Chip Crawford's playing has a lighter feel. "What Are You Doing For The Rest Of Your Life" is delivered with a pseudo-samba groove, and Mann's single-note lines are lethal. Three songs associated with The Stylistics come next, with "Betcha By Golly Wow" arriving first, and the easy grooving "People Make The World Go 'Round" following. The final song of this aural triptych—"Stop, Look, Listen To Your Heart—is the most satisfying of the three and Mann's fondness for Wes Montgomery comes through in his treatment of the melody. Crawford, not to be outdone, mixes up choppy statements and single-note ideas during his equally impressive performance. Bandy's booming voice makes an appearance on "Woman Please," changing the group dynamic. A 12/8 blues feel is at the heart of this piece and, while the lyrics don't amount to much, Bandy's voice is a wonder to behold and brings a natural, raw intensity into the music. "Blues For Now" is built on a slippery swing feel from Bandy, and the drummer gets ample space to solo on this one. While his playing is a bit too busy and distracting on "The Look Of Love," his drumming perfectly meshes with his trio mates on "Minor Steps," a song based on John Coltrane's classic "Giant Steps." Mann's solo guitar take on "Easy Living" is a treat and shows off a different side to his playing, while "You And The Night And The Music" closes out the album and features some fun solo trading between all three musicians. In the end, It's All About A Groove amounts to more than just its name...but it certainly feels good too. Track listing: Foxy; What Are You Doing For The Rest Of Your Life; Betcha By Golly Wow; People Make The World Go 'Round; Stop, Look, Listen To Your Heart; Woman Please; Blues For Now; The Look Of Love; Minor Steps; Easy Living; You And The Night And The Music.
By Dan Bilowsky
MASTER OF A SMALL HOUSE
MEDITATIONS ON MUSIC OF A MAINLY IMPROVISED VARIETY
Tuesday May 25, 2010
Ethan Mann IT'S ALL ABOUT A GROOVE (Petunia)
Truth in titular advertising definitely applies to this trio date. Groove and feel are paramount to guitarist Ethan Mann’s musical philosophy. Keyboardist Chip Crawford and drummer Greg Bandy are of a shared music-making consciousness. All three men have been gigging since their teens in a multitude of setting. Bandy had the distinction of working New York City clubs during the Seventies and good fortune to curry favor with profile band leaders like Pharoah Sanders and Gary Bartz. Mann and Crawford never hit it quite that big on their cabaret cards, but both have stayed busy over the decades as well.
Mann designs the program as a reflection of a typical club set for the trio and the player’s formative Seventies-selves play palpable roles. Once again that titular mantra is at the forefront of their interplay and execution from the opening “Foxy” onward with blues and funk as recurring undercurrents. Popular song serves as another wellspring for the band songbook starting with Michel Legrand’s Latinized easy listening favorite “What are You Doing the Rest of Your Life.” Mann handles the leads with aplomb and Crawford lays down populous support with his instrument zeroed in on organ and Rhodes settings. Bandy’s often the glue, his rhythms tying each piece together without constraining his colleagues in their own contributions.
Mann offers mild surprises in a three-song shout out The Stylistics starting with “Betcha By Golly Wow”, outfitted with a pleasant if slightly schmaltzy lounge groove built on a rubbery electronic bass line from Crawford. “People Make the World Go Round” fares better with a harder rhythm and a stronger melody as the trio convincingly sets the studio calendar back to 1972. The piece also allows Bandy to breakdown his bonafides as a funky drummer through a string of killer break beats. Obligatory Coltrane comes out in Mann’s thin contrafact “Minor Steps” and there’s even room for a vocal by the guitarist on the near-parody talking blues number “Woman Please”. A pleasant enough session, this set is far from essential, but that’s also an appraisal these convivial players would no doubt agree on.
POSTED BY DEREK AT 2:51 PM
Volume 33/Number 213 June 2, 2010
PETUNIA ETHAN MANN/ It's All About a Groove:
The guitarist shows his organ trio side with a jumping date that shows as much Philly soul as it does originals. Fun, jumping date that is simply all about a groove and this crew is expert at striking a great one. Hot stuff.