Album at a Glance
John O’Gallagher Trio: The Honeycomb
Originally a denizen of the west coast, John O’Gallagher (b. 1964) - alto saxophonist, composer, teacher and author – has been a first-call player in New York’s jazz scene since his move east in 1990, attaining an international reach with audiences and students through his playing, teaching, recording and writing.
Numerous sideman appearances with important jazz players, documented on record through the ‘90s and continuing into the 21st century, earned O’Gallagher increasing critical attention and public recognition; several recordings as a leader have bolstered this fine reputation. With The Honeycomb, a new trio effort featuring musical compatriots Johannes Weidenmueller (bass) and Mark Ferber (drums), O’Gallagher continues his upward trajectory as a player, composer and leader of considerable merit, demonstrating remarkable insight and studious devotion to his craft in all its facets.
O’Gallagher’s sound – crisp, bracing, impassioned, bright-toned yet multitudinous – penetrates ear and mind most effectively, immediately securing one’s attention, while his melodic lines, marked out by staccato, distinctively ringing notes and concise, segmented yet tethered lyrical outbursts, at times hurried but never harried, sound out with rigor and a refined, sharpened and shapely internal logic.
Long a serious student and proponent of the early-20th-century serialism of Anton Webern and the associated Second Viennese School, O’Gallagher employs his unique approach to these compositional techniques to produce music of high distinction; his works in both the classical and jazz idioms dazzle and reorient the committed listener with a refractive multiplicity and keening melodic profile that belie their academic origins. In composition and performance, the trio pulls this feat off most succinctly and successfully.
The slinky and slithering album opener “Uroboros” is followed by the anagrammatic “Extralogical Railman,” a track dancing with unalloyed joy and delight, much like its inspiration, the famed - if darkly back-storied – “Relaxin’ at Camarillo.” The discursive “Petulant Snoot” leads into the pointed title track, supported and carried by a memorable bass-line vamp.
And so things smartly and rewardingly continue. In place of hill and dale emotionalism is an even-tempered, yet fully engaged and involving, consistency. As the wondrous honeycomb is exactingly, instinctively woven by the colony, sustaining life, so too does this undeviating, interlocked music offer real sustenance.
The Honeycomb displays O’Gallagher’s continuing penchant for pushing chromatic melodicism to its final frontiers. The freebop veneer masks a carefully structured approach: melodies and improvisations that initially seem outward bound eventually circle back on themselves.
“Uroboros” is based on a 12-tone row and O’Gallagher’s solo of fast, finely wrought lines builds with taut internal logic. “Extralogical Railman”, based on Charlie Parker’s “Relaxin’ at Camarillo”, recalls the original, but seems to exist in a parallel intervallic universe; O’Gallagher’s exciting doubled-up solo never loses coherence in the midst of the maelstrom. This is musicians’ music in the sense that the more one can appreciate the complexity of O’Gallagher’s concept, the more one is blown away by the seemingly effortless, high-speed delivery of his ideas. His remarkable solos on “Petulant Snoot”, the title track, “Eve Day” and “Kerberos” collectively reinforce the impression that here is an artist thoroughly in tune with—and perhaps slightly ahead of—his musical times.
Source: Fresh Sound New Talent
John O’Gallagher, alto saxophone
John O’Gallagher is an American jazz saxophonist and composer.
Born in Anaheim, California in 1964, he began playing alto saxophone in grade school after his family moved to Spokane, Washington. Upon graduating high school he studied briefly at Eastern Washington University before moving to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music. There he studied with legendary saxophone gurus Joe Viola, Jerry Bergonzi and George Garzone.
During the past 25 years living in New York he has become known for his projects as a leader, and as a sought-after sideman, working with artists such as Joe Henderson, Maria Schneider, Kenny Wheeler, Billy Hart, Tony Malaby, Jeff Williams, Tom Rainey, Chris Cheek, Ralph Alessi, Rudresh Manhathappa, Mike Formanek, Ben Monder and numerous others.
Source: Artist’s website
Johannes Weidenmueller, bass
Bassist Johannes Weidenmueller has been a first call performer with a long list of jazz greats since settling in New York City 20 years ago. He has been a member of the Hank Jones trio, Ray Barretto’s New World Spirit, the Carl Allen-Vincent Herring quintet, the John Abercrombie quartet, the Joe Lovano trio and the Kenny Werner trio. Other associations include Brad Mehldau, George Benson, John Scofield, Dewey Redman, Randy Brecker, Kenny Wheeler, Toots Thielemans, Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Gary Bartz, Jonny Coles, Clifford Jordan, Joe Chambers, and many others.
Born in Heidelberg, Germany, Weidenmueller was introduced to music early on. He started playing cello at the age of 6 and kept a busy performance schedule throughout his high school years, participating in many local and regional chamber music and orchestral events. After switching to the double bass at age 16, he went on to study jazz bass at the Conservatory in Cologne and soon after made the move to study at the prestigious Jazz and Contemporary Music program of the New School University in New York. Here he was able to study with jazz greats such as Ron Carter, Dave Holland and Buster Williams. In 1991 he joined the trio of legendary pianist Hank Jones and performed with him throughout North America. Playing with Hank Jones paved the way to becoming a full time professional bass player and countless performances with many other jazz greats have since followed.
He has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants including the young European jazz artist of the year award in 1993 and 1996, the Hennessey jazz prize 1996, grants from Arts international and the New School faculty development grant.
Source: Artist’s website
Mark Ferber, drums
Mark Ferber (b. 1975) grew up in Moraga, CA, and began playing piano at the age of four, before moving on to drumming and percussion. Mark attended the University of California in Los Angeles, earning a B.A. in Geography. He has distinguished himself on both coasts and abroad in live performances and recordings.
In Los Angeles, a partial list of credits includes Anthony Wilson’s Organ Trio and Nonet, Billy Child’s Chamber Ensemble, Wadada Leo Smith, and Bob Sheppard.
In New York he has worked with Lee Konitz, Don Byron, Fred Hersch, Norah Jones, Steve Swallow, Jack Wilkins, and his twin brother, Alan Ferber, among others. He is currently touring and recording with Ralph Alessi’s group, ‘This Against That’, and Jonathan Kreisberg’s Trio and Quintet.
In addition to being an active freelance drummer, Mark teaches in the United States and Europe. He was a faculty member for the Tavira Jazz Workshop in Portugal, the Kansas University Jazz Workshop and the Maine Jazz Camp.
He currently serves as an adjunct teacher for the City College of New York and the School of Improvisational Music (SIM) in New York.
Source: Blue Music Group Bio
About Larry Isacson
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John O'Gallagher's Webern Project - Op. 27 & 25 - Greenwich House, NYC, Dec 12 2013