David Chesky: Jazz in the New Harmonic Primal Scream 

This is a cool, calm and collected set, dry as a martini and nearly as subtle. The rhythm section, and bassist Peter Washington in particular, is relentless in their premeditated restraint—almost hypnotic in their serene tranquility. My first thought was of Pithecanthropus Erectus. Mingus’ soft, cushiony pulse walked us through the contrapuntal crossfire with an imperturbable poise. The difference is that here the horns are every bit as circumspect as the rhythm.The music, all composed by Chesky, is well behaved, smartly ordered and far too knowledgeable about itself to indulge in any primal comportment. We can all relax. Each piece starts with a concise rhythm setting out of which the musical theme climbs. Sometimes it slides in slowly; more often it springs to action. But it never wanders far off in terms of mood or dynamics. It’s all contained in a kind of soft-shoe groove steered with quiet authority by Washington. It all has an exceptionally open sound as well, never closeted or over-recorded. The themes are bite-sized, simple, sometimes teasing little riffs you wouldn’t be surprised to find in a small group swing or bop tune of decades back. There is talk in Bill Milkowski’s notes about the classical fingerprints of Ives and even Webern on this music. Perhaps. A certain braininess marbles the solos and ensembles—flashes of unexpected dissonance and edginess. But a loping blues like “Isolation,” with its intimate muted solo by trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and supple tenor from Javon Jackson, seems a long way from the 12-tone controversies of a century ago. If Chesky’s intent was to make the soft lines of his work an “entry point” into the higher harmonic districts of Ives, that’s all well and good. If I took that ride, though, I’m not sure I was aware of it. There was enough of interest much closer at hand.
John McDonough, Downbeat




Textura Jazz Magazine


David Chesky's Jazz in the New Harmonic Quintet: Primal Scream
Chesky Records

It's a shame someone already used Kind of Blue because in many ways it seems like the perfect title choice for the second recording by David Chesky's Jazz in the New Harmonic Quintet. Further to that, Primal Scream would appear to be a rather less than natural title selection, given that the music on the release rarely howls, though perhaps Chesky chose it for some other reason than any connection it might have to Arthur Janov's novel psychotherapy approach. Regardless, the New York-based composer's bluesy album packs a powerfully evocative, late-night punch that's heavily noirish in atmosphere.

For those unfamiliar with Chesky's name, he's a three-time Grammy nominee whose music spans jazz and classical genres. In addition to his considerable talents as a jazz pianist, he's composed orchestral works, operas, and ballets, written children's books, and is a highly respected audiophile; Opera News went so far as to say “Chesky could turn out to be a one-man Brecht-Weill for the twenty-first century.” Interestingly, Chesky's passion for both forms was evident at the outset of his career, as after his 1974 move from Miami to New York he took up studying composition and piano, respectively, with David Del Tredici and The Modern Jazz Quartet's John Lewis. Chesky doesn't treat jazz and classical as separate entities, however, as the material he composes for his Jazz in the New Harmonic quintet—Chesky on piano, bassist Peter Washington, tenor saxist Javon Jackson, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, and drummer Billy Drummond—threads contemporary classical harmonies into its jazz-based framework.

A few tunes do call to mind Kind of Blue, but stronger Miles-related reference points for Primal Scream would be Filles de Kilimanjaro (specifically its opening track “Frelon Brun”) and In a Silent Way. Cases in point, “Check Point Charlie” wouldn't sound terribly out of place on Miles Smiles or Nefertiti, and the piano chords and drumming style in “Cultural Treason” could be construed as In a Silent Way homages—none of which is cause for complaint, by the way. Even if the presence of jazz masters can be detected in Chesky's group sound, the music is no less satisfying for being part of a long-standing tradition. The band also mixes things up by not only working blues into its presentation but, as the title track and “Sleepless in New York” testify, R&B and funk, too. Though its playing might be cerebral and cool, it's also not lacking for emotional resonance.

Chesky's outfit isn't an outright imitation of Miles's ‘50s-‘60s quintets—his bold playing on the title track aside, Drummond largely plays with a restraint that's far removed from Tony Williams's dynamic invention, for example—yet there are moments where the similarities are hard to deny. Jackson's smoky entrance on “Check Point Charlie,” to cite one instance, evokes Coltrane, while Pelt's muted horn can't help but suggest an invisible Miles looming nearby. Interestingly, while he does contribute daringly dissonant solos throughout, Chesky appears as content to support the trumpet-saxophone front-line. Still, it's as a composer and conceptualist that he most shines on this hour-long date. Pieces such as “Cultural Treason,” “Isolation,” and “Kill the Philharmonic” offer superb compositional examples of acoustic jazz, especially in the way the lead trumpet and saxophone themes weave and coil around one another. Regardless of whether the piece in question is uptempo or a slow blues, to a man the band members execute the material with unerring poise.

Textura June 2015
 
Copyright 2015 © David Chesky
All rights reserved
FEATURING: David Chesky, composer and piano;
Javon Jackson, tenor saxophone; Jeremy Pelt, trumpet;
Billy Drummond, drums; Peter Washington, bass


With Jazz In The New Harmonic, David Chesky and his band of all-star jazz musicians fuse 21st century classical harmonies with the city's rhythms to create a new genre of jazz.  Jazz In The New Harmonic liberates the pulse, soul, energy, and groove from past traditions; it's the first encounter with the transcendental music of our age.  Chesky is a first-class provocateur, and his 21st century classical harmonic approach is kicked into high gear with this streamlined New York groove machine.

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Editors’ Picks
AUGUST 2013


David Chesky has said that for his new quintet album, he wanted to take his “harmonic language” (influenced by the classical composers Ives, Webern and Messiaen) and merge it with a strong sense of groove. The pianist/composer certainly achieved that goal with Jazz In The New Harmonic , thanks to his stellar band: Billy Drummond (drums), Peter Washington (bass), Jeremy Pelt (trumpet) and Javon Jackson (tenor saxophone). Although Chesky is the leader here, this isn’t a piano showcase, as he lets his collaborators shine. During this cohesive program, the rhythm section locks into insistent grooves, providing a sturdy setting for impressive, athletic bouts between Pelt and Jackson. The track “American Culture X” features one of their best sparring matches, as Pelt’s muted trumpet delivers cool jabs while Jackson’s tenor bobs and weaves at a deliberate pace. On “Grooves From The Underground,” Washington offers a propulsive, unrelenting bass riff that is complemented by Pelt’s cool, muted trumpet coloration. The album’s eight tracks were recorded at Brooklyn’s Hirsch Center by Nicholas Prout, who co-produced the album with Chesky. This is a binaural recording that sounds fantastic through a good set of headphones.
BOBBY REED
RECORDING OF THE MONTH
SEPTEMBER 2013

If there's a word that describes the feeling, the vibe present throughout Jazz in the New Harmonic, it's trance. Pianist and session leader David Chesky even uses it without prompting when asked how, among all his music endeavors—an album of difficult non–Joplin-like New York Rags in 2012, a children's ballet later this year, not to mention running Chesky Records—he found the time or inspiration to make a straight-ahead jazz record.

"It's two things. First, this is my therapy group, because my main thing is doing the symphonic music, and that's like a deep, delayed reaction. You write an orchestra piece and, three years later, you fly somewhere in the world and you get to hear it. There's kind of no real connection. But this, you can play and you can get off—it's a great thing. It connects you, so I enjoy this a lot. And I want to keep continuing with it so I can play. The other thing is, musically, it's basically taking the language I use in classical music, modern harmony and dissonance, and fusing it with a groove, making it swing. So instead of playing tunes like 'My Funny Valentine,' just tunes over and over in an antiquated harmonic language, we did that. I'm just trying to, as Emeril [Lagasse] says, kick it up a notch—make it a little spicy, with atonality and awkward intervals and clusters, but at the same time make it organic. And it has to groove. It has to have that groove thing. It's like a trance—you just go into trance mode, and you wander, and it envelops you."

Wandering and enveloping certainly are the keys to this low-key, very-cool-to-the-touch session. The band of peerless talent meander through Chesky's minimalist compositions, darting in and out for economic solos, and yet there's a coherence to the material and a panache to the playing that make this wispy, subtle set a soothing listen.

Nothing here is faster than Chesky's mid-tempo groove. There are no cookers, and no forceful blowing from either Javon Jackson or Jeremy Pelt, two of the finest young horn players working in jazz today. In "Grooves from the Underground," perhaps this record's most representative tune, the solos spin out lazily over Billy Drummond's insistent cymbals. In "Duke's Groove," Jackson, staying in his tenor's lower registers, leads the tune, while Pelt rides high above, his muted trumpet adding effective counterpoint to Jackson's understated groovin'. Bassist Peter Washington and Drummond, both of whom are also audiophiles, are the infallible basis to everything on Jazz in the New Harmonic.

"Peter and Billy together just lock in so well," Chesky says. "It's something I can't verbalize, but you just know it. It's like they're connected to the earth. They have roots. Where they are coming from is way down, it can't be learned or contrived, it's just part of them. It's like a guy who dribbles great basketball or something.

"I look at it like teams. You have the rhythm thing happening with Peter and Billy, and they lock in and they like to work together. I went to Javon and said, 'In a perfect world, who do you want to work with?' and he said, 'Jeremy.' We rehearsed the music, and Javon said, 'Jeremy's gonna bring something to this.' And those guys bring something nice, they have a soul. So it's like these forces intersecting, because Billy and Peter are getting a nice groove, and Javon and Jeremy are playing these soulful solos, and then I'm throwing in my curveballs, taking the harmony out so they have to be on their toes and use a different language to construct their solos, while at the same time keeping it a New York hip jazz type of thing."

Despite all the musical talent present, the biggest star is the sound. The latest in Chesky Records' Binaural+ series, Jazz in the New Harmonic was recorded, as are most of David Chesky's projects, at the Hirsch Center, in Brooklyn. The sonics are astonishingly spacious, detailed, and multidimensional—in most ways, absolutely flawless, and nearly everything you can expect or dream about from well-recorded sound.

Asked how this album connects to the lineage of jazz, Chesky does not hesitate. "It's not Ellington, but it's coming from that place. If you reach way down into the bag, yeah, there's Ellington in there, we're just taking it and continuing that line. If you draw a line of jazz, how it evolves, we're just taking it and saying, 'Hey, it's 2013, let's add on to this line.'"
Robert Baird
In music, harmony implies the optimum blending of voices.

The piano master, David Chesky has produced a set of music on his new album entitled “Jazz in the New Harmonic” that certainly succeeds in making the point.

The voices on this beautiful project include the trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, agreeably the hottest young player on that instrument today; Javon Jackson, an established titan on tenor sax; Peter Washington, veteran master of the acoustic bass and anchored by the sizzling, mellow drums of Billy Drummond.  In this work Mr. Chesky is intent on proving that Jazz, which is often defined as America’s classical music, can be expressed in some formal, classical flavors and still retains its swing.  The listener soon realizes that the “new harmonic” also comes with its “new rhythmic.”

In the opening tune, aptly titled “Jazz in the new harmonic” the band immediately enters into a smooth laidback groove with each instrument making its statement with seemingly structured precision, as Mr.Chesky prods them on with short intricate chords.  Moving from the first tune you quickly realize that you are in a musical classroom (harmony – 101); from then on it is all about the beauty of a sweet conversation between and among instruments.

Trumpeter, Jeremy Pelt, who succeeds in channeling everybody from Miles and Marsalis to Louis Armstrong and Lester Brown, compliments the luscious saxophone tones of Javon Jackson  as they work their groovy way through the tunes. “American Band’s rhythm section, bassist Peter Washington lays down a solid foundation throughout this work while allowing unrestricted room for everyone else, his masterful riffs on “Burnout”, “Grooves” and “Broadway” are gems of structured improvisation. The sweet “licks” of drum master, Billy Drummond, can be savored to satisfaction on “Dukes Groove” and “Transcendental Tripping”; check out his offbeat syncopation.

Interestingly, it seems that throughout most of this project, Mr.Chesky is content to keep a low profile while fully controlling the orchestration.  He uses his short, intricate chords and riffs to push and prod his players (especially Jackson and Pelt) to engage in intense musical conversation.  He does however take center stage on the album’s final tune “Transcendental Tripping”, delivering a solo laced with astral flavorings.  Letting you know that this music is his brand.

It is obvious that Mr.Chesky’s objective on this work was to deliver a jazz music product with some difference and to that end he may have succeeded.  He knew what he wanted.  He drew up his blueprint and proceeded to turn his band of accomplished musicians loose on the project; the result is indeed “Jazz in the new Harmonic”.

The haunting tones of Javon Jackson’s sax stay in your head.  The blues colored chords from Jeremy Pelt’s muted trumpet vividly invokes the spirit of Miles.  he gently rolling thunder of Peter Washington’s bass wraps around the sweet licks of Billy Drummond’s percussion; something feels different about this harmony.
It’s one of the year’s best jazz recordings and one of the most experimental at the same time.
The Aquarian
David Chesky Releases "Jazz in the New Harmonic" (Chesky Records)
Published: 2013-07-10
David Chesky

David Chesky’s Jazz in the New Harmonic (Chesky Records) puts the acclaimed pianist and composer’s own personal twist on bridging the disparate worlds of jazz and classical. The music has its roots in Third Stream, the hybrid term coined in 1957 by Gunther Schuller to identify a new emerging musical sensibility that was essentially a confluence of classical music and jazz, with improvisation being a vital component. Since then, composers like John LaPorta, John Lewis, Stan Kenton, George Russell and Schuller himself dabbled in Third Stream while more contemporary composers such as Henry Threadgill, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, John Zorn, Ohad Talmor and Joel Harrison have put forth their own ambitious chamber jazz projects.

But Jazz in the New Harmonic is more than a Third Stream project in the strictly Schullerian sense of the word: Chesky’s recording is a striking manifesto that deals with dissonance and rhythm on equal footing. “I wanted to take the harmonic language of 21st century classical music and make it groove,” he says of his bold new direction in jazz. “The ideal for me was to create an absolutely new concept of composition in which the jazz and classical would be so blended that you would not be able to identify the jazz roots from the classical roots.”

Fueled by the cool, simmering rhythm tandem hookup between jazz veterans Peter Washington on bass and Billy Drummond on drums and colored by Chesky’s provocative comping, Jazz in the New Harmonic is further characterized by the searching spirit of principal soloists Javon Jackson on tenor saxophone and Jeremy Pelt on trumpet. “With Peter and Billy holding it down, I can do the painting above it with my harmonic language, which is coming from the Messiaen, Webern and Ivesschool,” Chesky explains. “So I’m giving Javon and Jeremy chords that they don’t usually hear in jazz. This is not C major or C minor of some dominant raised sharp nine chord. It’s a new vocabulary and it’s forcing them to adapt and come up with it.”

And both Jackson and Pelt deliver the goods with solos that are probing and profound. Whether it’s their agile interaction with tenor and muted trumpet on the moody, mid tempo swinging title track, their bold, unbridled blowing on the dark Bitches Brew/In a Silent Way-inspired “Broadway” or their potent playing on the dirge-like “American Culture X,” their musical choices are always unpredictable and in the moment. Pelt, one of the leading lights on the under-40 jazz scene today, also contributes an outstanding blues-tinged muted trumpet solo on “Burnout.” Jackson, the former Jazz Messenger, takes his time in formulating an answer to Pelt’s solo on that sinister offering. Bassist Washington’s deep, woody-toned ostinatos solidly anchor the proceedings. His catchy “The Beat Goes On” riff propels the title track while his repetitive motif on “Broadway” recalls moody Miles Davis vehicles like “Spanish Key” and “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” from Bitches Brew or the atmospheric “Shhh/Peaceful” from In a Silent Way.

Washington also breaks loose for extended upright solos on the aptly titled “Grooves from the Underground” and “Burnout” that reveal his dexterity and ingenuity on the instrument. Drummond deftly crafts a different approach on the kit to perfectly underscore the vibe of each piece, whether it’s his subdued funky drummer take on “American Culture X,” his insistently swinging syncopations on the noir-ish “Duke’s Groove,” his vaguely Latin-flavored beat on “Transcendental Tripping” or his patient, understated and unerring time-keeping on the laid back dub flavored jam “Grooves from the Underground” and the ominous jam “Burnout.”

Drummond is also prominently featured throughout the infectious “Deconstruction,” which culminates in a dramatic, unaccompanied drum showcase. “Billy and Peter are the ultimate groove masters,” says Chesky. “They’ve got such a great feel together and they lay this carpet down for Javon and Jeremy to do their thing. Both Javon and Jeremy play with incredible soul. When you hear them play, there’s an indescribable feeling to it. They organically play jazz. It’s not something they learned, it’s who they are.”

Beneath it all, in almost subliminal fashion, is Chesky, deliberately feeding his crew darkly dissonant chord voicings with a crystalline touch on the keys, subtly tweaking the proceedings along the way with his startling vocabulary. “We had some rehearsals with Jeremy and Javon and myself, just to get comfortable with the harmonic language,” he recalls. “And it’s not really dissonant to me at all. When I play that way, to me it sounds like I’m playing ‘The Candy Man’ or some kids’ song. I’m so used to it that it just sounds normal to me. It’s a nice color in my palette and I like it.” Throughout Jazz in the New Harmonic, Chesky takes a decidedly sparse, mysterioso approach to his piano solos, though he does open up and stretch in his own enigmatic fashion on “Burnout” and “Transcendental Tripping.”

As he explains, “The music is about space so I’m not really looking to play 90 miles an hour. This is not about chops. When I do my solos, they’re all constructed on large, dissonant intervals. There’s no real blowing over chords or the normal blues type blowing in patterns. It’s almost like instant composition, like doing a modern piano sonata in the moment.” Full of provocative ideas, imbued with soulful expression and charged with the spirit of anticipation, Jazz in the New Harmonic is a portent of things to come from this accomplished composer and sonic provocateur.








REVIEW QUOTES:
Jazz in the New Harmonic thrives on both the funky and the cerebral and makes for a consistently exciting listen.
Alex Henderson
FULL REVIEWS:
Composer and pianist David Chesky shakes things up on his new release Jazz in the New Harmonic. Pitting old school grooves against a modern classically inspired harmonic framework, Chesky turns what at first sounds like a straight-ahead blowing session on its proverbial head. With jazz journeymen like bassist Peter Washington, drummer Billy Drummond, saxophonist Javon Jackson and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt in tow,Chesky boldly blurs stylistic barriers. Listen to: "grooves from the Underground".
Jon Regen

Click HERE to listen on "Sound Cloud".
Jazz life Magazine , Japan
Pick of the month


An ambitious work by pianist and label owner David Chesky, who undertakes an attempt at Third Stream, a combination of jazz and classical first proposed by Gunther Schuller  and John Lewis in 1957. This experiment is supported by seasoned players. Complex harmonies emanate from the piano as Javon Jackson and Jeremy Pelt dance with wild abandon, over the  chords and grooves. This album is a binaural recording and you can experience an even more realistic sound field by using headphones.
Records to Die For
by Robert Reina

David Chesky has written and recorded music in a wide variety of genres, and I've followed them all. I even have his first recording, Rush Hour, a big-band jazz-rock outing he recorded for Columbia when in his teens. My favorite is his Violin Concerto, but this jazz-quintet session is quite a departure from the light Latin jazz recordings he released early in his career. The original tunes have dark, angular, modal melodies and bass lines with infectious grooves, plenty of space, and room for first-rate solos by his band members. It reminds me of an amalgam of soundtrack music from 1950s films noirs, early-'60s Miles Davis, and late-'00s Liam Sillery. The airy, bloomy sound, captured in Brooklyn's Hirsch Center, envelops you like a down comforter covered in silk. Chesky continues to turn on a dime and switch genres with each release; this recording further affirms that he's capable of writing anything.
At the Blue Note:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbkyfNwZRVA


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ohKwqlYkpo
Jazz in the New Harmonic
Primal Scream Reviews
Editors pick of the month
Downbeat Magazine
Recording of the month
Stereophile Magazine
Album of the month
Marke Dusza, Audio Magazine,  Poland
Jazz in the New Harmonic in every respect is a perfect affair. All the senses are stimulated, the result is a captivating treat.
Wolfgang Giese, Rocktimes, Germany
Complex harmonies emanate from the piano as Javon Jackson and Jeremy Pelt dance with wild abandon, over the  chords and grooves.
Jazz life Magazine , Japan
Picks of the month
David Chesky has said that for his new quintet album, he wanted to take his “harmonic language” (influenced by the classical composers Ives, Webern and Messiaen) and merge it with a strong sense of groove. The pianist/composer certainly achieved that goal with Jazz In The New Harmonic, thanks to his stellar band.
    Bobby Reed , Downbeat Magazine

If there is a feeling or vibe present throughout Jazz in the New harmonic it is trance. Its not Ellington but it evolves from that place. If you drew  a line of jazz,
how it evolves, its 2013 and lets add to this line.
      Robert Baird, Stereophile  Magazine
It is obvious that Mr.Chesky’s objective on this work was to deliver a jazz music product with some difference and to that end he may have succeeded.  He knew what he wanted.  He drew up his blueprint and proceeded to turn his band of accomplished musicians loose on the project; the result is indeed “Jazz in the new Harmonic”.
Black Star Review

Jazz in the New Harmonic thrives on both the funky and the cerebral and makes for a consistently exciting listen.
Alex Henderson, Jazz inside Magazine

Chesky’s recording is a striking manifesto that deals with dissonance and rhythm on equal footing. And both Jackson and Pelt deliver the goods with solos that are probing and profound.  Full of provocative ideas, imbued with soulful expression and charged with the spirit of anticipation, Jazz in the New Harmonic is a portent of things to come from this accomplished composer and sonic provocateur.
All About Jazz
It’s one of the year’s best jazz recordings and
one of the most experimental at the same time.
The Aquarian

Chesky turns what at first sounds like a straight-ahead blowing session on its proverbial head. Chesky boldly blurs stylistic barriers. Listen to: "grooves from the Underground".
Jon Regen, Keyboard Magazine
"This is a cool, calm and collected set, dry as a martini and nearly as subtle."
John McDonough, Downbeat
"...that steady-strolling groove and the overall lack of pretension and unncessary flamboyance keep things centered, resulting in music that suggests an almost zen-like contemplation on the dialectic between control and freedom."
David Whiteis, JazzTimes
Talk about setting out to create a mood. And succeeding! A hard-to-pinpoint nostalgic quality permeates the session, the self-conscious noir atmosphere influencing everything from the recording to Chesky’s prominent piano coloration. Feels like the soundtrack for an unmade follow-up to Blow-Up. Dig Jackson’s subdued vibe, so restrained it’s ominous.
John Corbett, Downbeat


"Jazz In The New Harmonic: Primal Scream" makes no bones about its debt to the music of the masters and makes a powerful statement about the need for jazz to "dance" again."
Richard B. Kamins, Step Tempest