Illicit Sextet: Chapter Eleven

Illicit Sextet: Chapter Eleven
Title: Chapter Eleven
Label: CD Baby

Every twenty years, like clockwork, The Illicit Sextet releases a new CD. Their first effort, Chapter One, was celebrated by the Twin Cities' jazz intelligentsia of the day, with one critic calling it "the best homegrown jazz product of 1993," and another dubbing the group "the Cadillac of local jazz [...] a smooth, classy and expansive machine that glides effortlessly through the post-bop traditions." That machine went on to be honored as the Best Instrumental Group at the Minnesota Music Awards. The Sextet elbowed it's way into the Twin Cities' jazz scene in the late '80s with a novel approach: instead of serving up the standards and Real Book fare that made up the bulk of a typical group's set list, The Illicit Sextet was Minnesota's first jazz composers' collective, playing nothing but original music written by it's members. Nowadays many serious jazz groups try to explore new directions by focusing on their own compositions. Twenty years ago it was uncommon, and struck some as an exotic and even oddball move: who's gonna hire a jazz band that doesn't play anything you know? Before long, however, hardcore jazzers and civilians alike connected with the Sextet's energy and the freshness of their material, and the group had no trouble finding work. (In fact, the band was a no-show the night Doc Severinsen was on hand to present them with their Minnesota Music Award: they had a gig.) The group soldiered on for a several years, but The Fates mocked them and conjured up various and devious tribulations that eventually shut the thing down. Twelve years later, somehow, The Illicit Sextet decided to mock The Fates right back, and started rehearsing and putting together new material. Word got out that the group was together again, and before long The Illicit Sextet was a working band back on the scene. Chapter Eleven is the very fine and, if I may say, heartwarming continuation of their story: this jazz record - like all jazz records - is a tangible triumph over adversity and indifference. Somehow these six guys have beat The Fates and made this beautiful document. All it took was creativity, uncommon persistence, a powerful spirit of collaboration and shared vision, optimism, a daunting amount of work, and more than a bit of insanity; in other words: the standard ingredients behind any great jazz record. To my ears, it's still the same band, just twenty years smarter and twenty years deeper. I still hear an appealing fragility in Steve Kenny's compact (almost classical) trumpet sound, belied by his fiery, intense, and virtuosic lines. Paul Harper brings his fat tenor and lush flute to the mix, along with his inventive writing. David Roos still pens creative and surprising tunes and plays with perfect taste and swing. Chris Lomheim remains a romantic with chops to burn who wears his love for Bill Evans on his sleeve. Tom Pieper continues to anchor the band with his drive and pulse, but there's something new from him on this second outing for the Sextet: his thoughtful tunes! And Nathan Norman, as he did on the first CD, takes charge and almost steals the show with his power and groove. The phrase "Chapter Eleven" evokes financial doom, and is therefore the laughably perfect name for a jazz record released in 2013. It's The Illicit Sextet's cheeky middle finger salute to The Fates. Against the odds, they've made this great damn record, and all it took was twenty years. I'm happy and sincerely moved to hear it! Can't wait to see what they come up with in 2033. Founding member, trumpeter Steve Kenny has performed with Pete Whitman's Departure Point and the band What Would Monk Do, among other projects. Every Wednesday night, Kenny leads The Bastids in the early set at the Artists Quarter. Tenor saxophonist Paul Harper is a busy Twin Cities performer, appearing on numerous recordings (including Charmin Michelle's Pure Imagination) and performing on sax and flute with guitarist Joel Shapira, Charmin & Shapira & Friends, and other ensembles through Sunset Park Music. David Roos, guitar, also a founding member of the Illicit Sextet, performs solo, leads the trio Exquisite Corps, sells guitars at The Podium in Dinkytown, and devotes time to teaching and writing about jazz guitar and theory. Pianist Chris Lomheim was a protégé of the late Bobby Peterson. Today he is one of the most in-demand pianists in the metro area, backing area vocalists and heading his own trio, as well as playing and recording with the Reid Kennedy Trio and more. Tom Pieper, bass, is on the faculty of the MacPhail Center for Music. With wife Karen, he performs as SpiritJazz, and is also the middle school orchestra director for the Wayzata Schools. Nathan Norman, drums, has an extensive resume performing with area artists, including vocalists Debbie Duncan, Connie Evingson, JoAnn Funk and Charmin Michelle. He's also played and recorded with Bill Banfield, Nancy Bierma, Robert Huntley and more.

1.1 Chapter Eleven
1.2 Dorothy Helen
1.3 2 C C
1.4 Lullaby
1.5 Little Big Horn
1.6 Pardon Who?
1.7 La Corvina
1.8 The Alter of Change
1.9 Tribute
1.10 Your Bird's Feet
1.11 Will
1.12 Changes
1.13 Blue Spell
1.14 Kill Your Television

Illicit Sextet: Chapter Eleven

Regular price Sale price $17.46 $18.98

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