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A fresh approach to jazz

Reviewed May 2005

La Espada de la Noche
La Espada de la Noche
By Ted Nash and Odeon

Palmetto Records: 2005

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

Saxophonist Ted Nash opens "La Espada de la Noche" with a short accordion burst, a sweet exhalation, followed by the leader's robust tenor sax rumination that hints at a familiar melody. Familiar indeed, as the ensemble comes together on Dizzy Gillespie's classic "A Night in Tunisia," taking the tune into tango territory with accordion, tenor sax, violin and drums, and the unlikely – for the style – tuba filing in the bottom end.

Nash's first disc on Palmetto Records, "Still Evolved," was a swinging straight-ahead jazz romp that earned him a "Rising Star" nod from Downbeat Magazine and spots on several "best-of" lists in the jazz press. With his band Odeon on "La Espada de la Noche," he moves out of the mainstream, blending the sounds of the tango, Eastern European street music, New Orleans and modern jazz, creating a music that flirts with humor and fun and joyous energy. Nash seems to be taking a (trumpeter) Dave Douglas-like path, in experimenting with non traditional jazz forms, looking forward and back at the same time, bringing fresh and fascinating ideas into his sound. The blend of sax and accordion is a wonderful marriage, one not much heard in the mainstream, the accordion accentuating the "reediness" of the saxophone, acting almost as a string section with its sweet, sighing washes of sound.

The highlight here – on a straight-through excellent set – is Odeon's take on "Concierto de Aranjuez, Movements 1 & 2." Familiar to jazz fans from the Miles Davis/Gil Evans collaboration on "Sketches of Spain," the pared-down arrangement here, anchored by Clark Gayton's rich baritone horn, is an entrancing listening experience.

"La Espada de la Noche" by Ted Nash and Odeon is an unusual and unusually beautiful blend of sounds.

Review by Dan McClenaghan. Dan is a writer living in Oceanside, Calif. Read his biography on his AllAboutJazz.com page.

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