Jon Menges: Changes Within
Jazz has certainly always been about change and on his first CD as a leader, Jon Menges seems to celebrate the concept on a variety of levels. Considering the contrast of the two standards within this collection of mostly original tunes, this collection could easily be about transitional change. But if we consider the alternating palette of bright and dark tones between guitar and trumpet, soprano and flugelhorn to be found here in abundance, we might well be dealing with a different kind of change.
To take it further, the constant shift of interplay of this session's taut rhythm section with the duality of guitar and horn might suggest still another kind of change. Add to this the stark stylistic differences from one composition to the next, and several more possibilities emerge.
In fact, player-composer Menges generously opens this collection with guest saxophonist Mitch Paliga's straight-ahead burner, "Half Life." His smoldering solo seemingly sets the session's tone until it is turned on its ear with a decidedly traditional take on an old standard, "Gone with the Wind." Menges then follows with a tune of his own, showcasing his lyrical ballad style and utilizing his flugelhorn's dusky tone to superb advantage.
Menges' style celebrates melodic simplicity while exploring the upper extensions of his chords, creating an intriguing balance between economy of ideas and harmonic tension that's always engaging. Set against Steve Ramsdell's sultry guitar tones and abundant flow of ideas, the listener is treated to an ever-changing pattern of interaction. Dan deLorenzo and Tim Davis work seamlessly together on bass and drums, respectively, providing compelling underpinnings and seasoned interplay. Their stop-start rhythmic shifts create a fascinating environment for the leader's thoughtful melodic statements.
The varieties of compositions here and empathetic play from all help make this CD a very personal statement about the many changes within.—Dennis Sieja
Self produced. Contact Jon Menges at 773-665-0984.