Personnel: Stephen Selfridge, alto saxophone; Michael Fein, tenor saxophone; Behn Gillece, vibraphone; Maeve Royce, bass; Jim Miller, drums.
"My Hard Luck Story" / "Indian Summer" / "Kriegschweine (War Pigs)" / "Lenny Blue" / "Sideways Eyes" / "Stormwatch" / "North Wind" / "Separacion" / "Looking Glass Blues" / "Red Lament" / "Caribbean Fire Dance" / "My Hard Luck Story" (live w/ Big Band)
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What the critics say:
"Imagine a master’s degree project so good that it became a commercially released CD soon thereafter. That’s what happened to Chuck Gottesman...
The CD’s compositions were elements of presentation for earning Gottesman’s masters degree from Rowan University, where he studied with George Rabbai and Denis DiBlasio...As a result, he has had some time to develop his thoughts about the music he wants to record and the musicians he wants to record with...
...Gottesman’s CD is a fully realized work that covers his entire range of interests through a variety of styles expressed by his intriguing compositions. Just as important, Gottesman reveals himself on his first recording as a versatile trumpeter, who is just as comfortable playing the rapid hard bop-like lines of 'North Wind' as he is with the reassuring glow of his flugelhorn playing on 'Indian Summer.' An additional delight of the album is the group sound that Gottesman’s sextet achieves with its conscientious attention to dynamics, precision of articulation and harmonic cohesiveness...
'My Hard Luck Story' (is) a flowing, upbeat arrangement based on the changes of 'Bye Bye Blackbird.' From the optimistic nature of the song, the breeziness of the sextet’s solos instills listeners’ smiles, if not outright happiness. No hard luck is apparent, causing one to wonder at the story behind the name of the album. Perhaps it’s a mere case of Weltschmerz.
Well, Gottesman does include Black Sabbath’s 'War Pigs,' possibly as a musical raging against the 'war machine.'...Even on this song, Gottesman converts the raw free improvisation over the initial forcefully stated chords into a hard swing, war apparently surrendering to peace, or possibly anger managed...finding inspiration in unlikely places. It seems that Gottesman, at least while he’s playing music, is incapable of rage for long. The good luck is ours for discovering a talented musician, steeped in the jazz tradition, who has developed a style of his own.
Pleasures do abound...There’s, for instance, Gottesman’s 'Separacion,' similar in changes and spirit to 'Alone Together,' on which the like-mindedness of the musicians is apparent as they ease in and out of harmony. Moreover, Gottesman builds his solos with a sense of architectural soundness, adding logical levels of heightening elaboration upon the basic foundation initially stated with relaxed maturity of concept. Another pleasure: being taken aback by the sweeping fast attack of 'North Wind' and guessing the direction of the gust before it settled into successive solos. 'Looking Glass Blues,' as humorously and self-deprecatingly titled as 'My Hard Luck Story,' though probably just as tongue-in-cheek, allows Gottesman to groove over drummer Jim Miller’s New Orleans street beat. Still, Gottesman remains simultaneously precise, melodic and invigorating in the tradition of jazz trumpeters who preceded him. On 'Stormwatch,' Gottesman mutes his horn, and bassist Maeve Royce’s throbbing bass lines contrast with the horns’ restraint before they break loose with more assertive improvisations in the middle section of the inviting minor-key tune. Interestingly, Gottesman substitutes Behn Gillece’s vibraphone for the more conventional use of piano as the chorded instrument, and its glassiness and glow enhance the effect of tunes like 'Lenny Blue,' on which the horns play the spare melody at low volume until the bridge. In addition, Gillece’s presence is reminiscent of Bobby Hutcherson’s work on Mode for Joe as the sextet reinterprets 'Caribbean Fire Dance,' Gottesman, yes, blazing with a fearless, crowd-pleasing solo before a live audience.
...Chuck Gottesman now has the opportunity to establish himself as a distinctive voice on trumpet and an effective leader of small groups, as well as a writer of engaging compositions. Checking out his work would be a rewarding experience."
"...a swinging sextet...Gottesman('s) bright trumpet and
warm flugelhorn give this Straight-Ahead session plenty of spirit. Their
cohesive interplay results in a clean presentation that follows a
conservative course, but with a few pleasant surprises. The walking bass
and ride cymbal of Straight-Ahead Jazz is augmented by an emotional
outpouring that comes from a Black Sabbath anthem, Joe Henderson's
'Caribbean Fire Dance,' and one of Gottesman's more outre'
originals. 'Stormwatch' allows the sextet to create a tension-filled
environment where bass and drums scramble with an anxious drive. The
remainder of the trumpeter's program delivers clear-cut mainstream material
that takes on a cool hue and follows a course designed to honor the
Straight-Ahead tradition. The six instrumental voices come together in
celebration, and swing heartily. Bass and drums provide a
strong foundation that drives the session with authority. The absence of
piano means that the session flows with soft edges and a percussive force
that underscores gently. Gottesman's title track is a contrafact for
(based on the chord changes to) 'Bye Bye Blackbird.' 'Indian Summer' is
Gottesman's own composition and has no reference to the classic Jazz
standard. On it, the leader's warm flugelhorn paints an impressionistic
picture of leaves changing color and temperatures that allow for one last
fling at summer's leisure time activities. Vibraphone and tenor saxophone
add to the ballad's serene landscape and provide a warm glow.
'Separacion' takes on a similar texture through its lyrical
intermingling of Gottesman's flugelhorn with both saxophones and
vibraphone over a light, Latin base. The band serves up a hot New Orleans
shuffle with 'Looking Glass Blues,' which features the leader's clarion
trumpet: on fire and in a groove. Everyone steps forward on this one to solo
hard luck about it."
"Chuck Gottesman is a monster. He's well aware that doubling on instruments
doesn't automatically mean a musician will grasp the potential of each one.
However, his flugelhorn playing is as warm as Art Farmer's, while his trumpet
playing seems to sizzle with a different set of ideas, and that's rare in
itself. In addition, his skills as an arranger are exceptional. Check out his
work on Black Sabbath's 'War Pigs,' a choice that will presumably have the happy
effect of irking a few purists.
Gottesman has also rounded up a crack small group...The collective effort these players put into the music lifts it out
of the frequent ruts of the modern mainstream. This is no 'blowing date,' but a
set that balances blowing against less self-indulgent ends.
Vibist Behn Gillece is perhaps the key to this process, though the rhythm
section as a whole strikes a joyous balance between propulsion and
understatement. This is most evident on 'Lenny Blue,' one of Gottesman's pieces,
which hints that he might just have a future as a composer of distinction as
...if potential alone is enough, there's an
abundance of good music ahead."
- All About Jazz.com
"...more than a pleasant listen.
Gottesman manages to cover a wide swath of postmodern be-bop in an amiable way. The horn-heavy session...covers eight Gottesman originals, including the ardent 'Separacion,' as well as a jazzy take of Black Sabbath's 'War Pigs.'"
- Philadelphia Inquirer