Eyal Vilner’s new album ‘The Jam!’ released today and album release concert announced at Birdland Jazz Club – Broadway World | Start Classified

The Jam!, the latest scintillating release from the Eyal Vilner Big Band, is out today. Multi-instrumentalist Vilner, founder and leader of one of New York’s premier large ensembles, draws direct inspiration from New York’s swing dance renaissance and presents a selection of vibrantly swinging originals that have cemented his status as an innovative voice in the modern big band scene. further solidify the scene. Vilner and his band will celebrate the album’s release next weekend with a performance at the Birdland Jazz Club on Sunday 3 July at 5:30pm. Tickets can be purchased in advance here.

Born in Tel Aviv, Vilner moved to New York in 2007 and formed his big band the following year. The ensemble has performed at New York City landmarks such as Jazz at Lincoln Center, Guggenheim Museum, Birdland, Dizzy’s Club, Smalls Jazz Club and Minton’s Playhouse. The band was also a big hit at New York’s thriving dance halls. “Whether the audience is sitting or dancing, we see the joy in their eyes and in their soul. There’s something very powerful about a big ensemble that really swings together,” says Vilner.

To deepen his understanding of jazz music, Vilner began taking swing dance classes. These interactions led to the jam meetings led by Vilner and professional dancer Gaby Cook, and proved to be one of the main inspirations for the album. “I’m inspired by a syncopated movement – it can be as inspiring as hearing a great musician or reading a book. There are open conversations between swing music and swing dance as both art forms are rooted in improvisation.”

Nine of the tracks are from a recording date just prior to the peak of SW!NG OUT, the critically acclaimed collaboration that ran for two weeks at Manhattan’s Joyce Theater. The EVBB interacted with virtuoso professional dancers led by choreographer Caleb Teicher, and these improvisations inspired new compositions by Vilner. The New York Times called it “groundbreaking” — “it was pretty magical,” says Vilner. “Ten musicians, twelve dancers, making twenty-two great improvisers on stage.” The jam! gives Vilner the opportunity to showcase his own artistic development as a writer, composer and arranger as well as an improviser, a feat that sets it apart from previous EVBB albums.

Part of Vilner’s music philosophy is to find the common root of parallel artistic forms and see if these conversations can influence each other’s creativity. “Both jazz dance – native jazz dance and lindy hop – and jazz music come from the same place and are rooted in black American art forms. They complement each other.” But the Big Band rejects any vintage or retro labels: “We draw on a tradition where we move and dance to jazz music, delve deeply into the sub-dialects within the language labeled jazz and then strive to tell a new, compelling story with that aesthetic in mind.”

This new story begins with a fresh take on Duke Ellington’s “Just A Lucky So-and-So,” a space-filling, big-swinging number that will have you dancing in the dance floor. Imani Rousselle’s vocals pack a punch, and there are growling, sniffling solos from Brandon Lee (trumpet) and Ron Wilkins (trombone). Vilner comes to the fore on “Chabichou,” named after Vilner’s favorite goat cheese, reflecting his improvisational roots in bebop and hard bop.

“Another Time” is another Vilner original; Pianist Jon Thomas provides the monastic boast: “It reflects my early years in New York when things were rough and falling apart – but the music itself had a lot of soul and pure love.” The band blows through the title track’s rousing blues – with elegantly placed tutti lines, stylishly executed shout choruses and a shrill contribution from baritone player Josh Lee – before diving straight into Vilner’s tongue-in-cheek “contemporary pandemic love song”. Will you be my quarantine?”

“Monday Stroll” celebrates the legacy of Vilner’s mentor (and legendary saxophonist and flautist) Frank Wess, with Vilner re-orchestrating a Wess combo date from 1957, “”Balboa Dancer”,” from whose moves Vilner drew inspiration.

Vilner’s tracks have a lot of character – Brianna Thomas’ witty interpretation of “Hard Hearted Hannah” is followed by an elegant arrangement of Sy Oliver’s classic “T’Ain’t What You Do”. Towards the end, Vilner steps up to the mic and invites the dancers to show off their stuff to pay tribute to “The Ambassador of Lindy,” Frankie Manning. Dance also takes the spotlight on the aptly named “Tap Tap Tap” (featuring Caleb Teicher in the tap section), after Brandon Bain’s suave rendition of Al Hibbler’s hit “After the Lights Go Down Low,” and Vilner’s comment on the reliability of repair work in New York, “Call Me Tomorrow, I Come Next Week” (with the big tenor sound of Michael Hashim).

“Belleville” introduces a different mood; Written during Vilner’s time in the Paris district, it adds an Ellington-inspired arrangement to an already characterful composition. Featuring Vilner on flute, Ron Wilkins channeling “Tricky”, Sam Nanton on trombone and Brandon Lee on solotone trumpet, the result is a richly evocative composition. There’s a final flourish on “Jumpin’ At the Woodside” – a call to the dancers to leap from their chairs for the final tune of the night.

Using jazz traditions as a springboard for a contemporary approach to syncopated rhythms, The Jam! achieves a brilliant representation of present and past jazz movements. Vilner delves into the core values ​​and origins of swing, drawing inspiration for each composition from his unwavering curiosity with the improvising body. Conscientious, imaginative and novel at the same time, The Jam! finds Eyal Vilner and his big band in search of jazz’s swinging textures, while perhaps redefining them along the way.

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