Julian Siegel

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Reviews of Julian Siegel


30/05/2011 Vittorio Lo Conte Italia Allaboutjazz.com

URBAN THEME PARK 4.5 star review
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20/11/2009 John Walters, The Guardian 4 stars****

Other great moments have included Joey Baron's sublime drumming for the Julian Siegel Trio, who were Bley's impressive support act.


19/11/2009 Seb Scotney, London Jazz

Joey Baron (above), the drummer in Julian Siegel 's trio needs to be seen. He is something else. He gives the impression that every single percussive hit on a drum or rim or cymbal is precisely, even superhumanly placed. He is intent and concentrated on his own performance, but those eyes, moving from left (to look at Cohen) and right (Siegel) are so alert and watchful. There's linkedup energy in the stick movement and in the smile. Unbelievable. As one musican remarked to me, it must be completely daunting, because it feels as if Baron is never, never wrong. Alternative profession: tennis umpire, perhaps.

This trio is world-class. There is nothing Siegel cannot do on a tenor saxophone, the CD they recorded Live at the Vortex (Basho) is stunning, but they're getting better. There was an accident. Baron suddenly found his stick disintegrating. Two, three bits flew off, and drumstick became a pencil stub. Without a single hit going astray.


27/01/2009 Peter Bacon, Birmingham Post Five stars *****

Julian Siegel Trio at CBSO Centre
A certain feeling of deja vu would have been correct.

It was January, the CBSO Centre, the same players and the same opening tune: Siegel’s composition A Night At The Opera.

Had we jumped back two years? Quite a bit of the material was repeated from the ’07 gig: Atlantic, Stop Go Man, Alfie, Haunted Waltz, Sandpit.

It didn’t matter, of course – the tunes and arrangements might have been familiar, but jazz is forever fresh, especially when three such creative spirits as Siegel (saxophone, clarinets), Joey Baron (drums) and Greg Cohen (double bass) are at work.

The change was one of development and maturity, a sense that now these three knew each other even better, what had started out as a festival commission and transatlantic project had grown into a deeper musical friendship.

The acme came immediately after the interval. In Seven Days, one of several new pieces, Siegel took a cryptic and persistent motif of four or five notes, repeating and reworking it in order and timing. His solos shared the motif’s urgent material and pulled and pushed it about, while Baron and Cohen fired away underneath him.

The result swept the listener along in high excitement, caught in a raging river.

Baron is simply my favourite drummer – enthralling, whether supporting, leading or responding.

Cohen’s mastery is less obvious, and at the start he suffered from being too quiet, but his tuneful solos, incorporating rich chords into the logical lines, and his effortlessly spot-on timing are equally rewarding.

Siegel just gets better and better, his tone rich and burnished and heard to great effect in this unamplified way.

For me, contemporary jazz doesn’t get any better than this.


24/01/2009 Steve Walsh, Leeds

Julian Siegel Trio @ Seven Arts, Leeds
Written by Steve Walsh
Saturday, 24 January 2009
Many chins were stroked at this gig. Not because the music was difficult or complex, or because that's what jazz punters are supposed to do. No, we were all stroking our chins because the Seven Arts concert room was packed almost literally to the rafters for that rarest event, a completely sold out Leeds Jazz gig. And nobody could fathom exactly why this should have occurred. Certainly, Leeds Jazz MC Dave Hatfield was faced with the novelty of trying to make himself heard above the hubbub of anticipation before a note had been played.

In truth, the reasons are plain enough. The Trio's live double release from last year, of a gig played in January 2007, has gathered uniformly excellent reviews, and justifiably so. The music is deceptively simple, even conventional sounding jazz, mostly based on original tunes by Siegel that move cleverly from tightly written themes and passages to sections that open up under the expert improvisational scrutiny of these three wonderfully inventive and subtle musicians. Although Siegel himself is hardly a household name, he's put himself around in a variety of different outfits over the past decade and word is clearly getting around. But I suspect even Siegel would admit that it’s probably his rhythm section that has attracted a sizable chunk of the audience. Drummer Joey Baron and bassist Greg Cohen have the kind of pedigrees that make them familiar names in the more sophisticated areas of modern pop music (Cohen regularly plays in Tom Waits' band) as well as across the spectrum of modern jazz, most spectacularly as the rhythm section in John Zorn's fearsome Masada.

But mainly it's because they are such incredible musicians. Baron in particular extracts an astounding array of sounds and rhythms from his drum kit and yet barely strays from using a pair of brushes all evening. You can tell he's enjoying himself because he's got a permanent grin on his face and frequently bursts into peals of laughter. Most of the time he's goading the stick thin Cohen, but the bassist stays perched on the edge of a table, focused on the sheet music in front of him, keeping the tunes anchored but subtly slippery, with only the merest smirk crossing his lips from time to time. Of course, all this dazzling musicianship is built on the solid foundations of Siegel's tunes and the composer is by no means overshadowed by his companions, his tenor agile and incisive rather than blustering and his clarinet smokey and sophisticated. The trio basically played the CD, but over the last two years they've opened the songs out and expanded them and remade them new every time they've played them. Few musical experiences, for the players and the audience, are this rich.


01/11/2008 Joe Lovano

Julian Siegel Trio 'Live at the Vortex'

"This trio is full of music and magic and will capture you as it did me with repeated listening....Bravo!!!"


01/03/2007 John Fordham

SCENE AND HEARD John Fordham Jazz UK, March 2007
JULIAN SIEGEL TRIO, LIVE AT THE VORTEX 29th and 30th January 2007
“A big hit at last years Cheltenham Jazz Festival, the transatlantic trio featuring Britain’s Julian Siegel alongside Ornette Coleman Bassist Greg Cohen and the great Joey Baron on drums, toured the UK in January. Sax-Bass-Drums threesomes explore a particularly demanding jazz territory, and (unlike Joe Lovano, or the UK’s Julian Arguelles, who often favour an Ornette Coleman approach) Siegel tends to deal with the challenge in a melodically-subtle, Warne Marsh-like murmur rather than in mercurial postbop soliloquies. Siegel is also a fine clarinettist, so what he eschews in density he compensates for in colour and tonal range. On fast swing, Baron and Cohen can hold the attention all on their own, but their spontaneous responses to Siegel’s inquisitive, quirkily-sketched melodic suggestions, kept an awestruck Vortex audience on tenterhooks. Baron in particular, conversing with Siegel in short flurries of snare-patterns, cymbal washes and tone-bending tom-tom sounds (as well as jolting in and out of time-passages that indicated a silent metronome in his head) was devastating. The Vortex shows are due on CD”


26/01/2007 Peter Bacon

A Joy To Watch Three Masters At Work
Julian Siegel Trio
CBSO Centre 26/01/07
Peter Bacon: The Birmingham Post

Intimacy was the watchword here - both physically and musically. The band - Siegel on tenor saxophone and clarinets, Joey Baron on drums and Greg Cohen on double bass - was set up just inches from the audience.
The music - mostly written by Siegel and then given detailed exploration and expansion by all three - drew the listeners into a display of extraordinary subtleties of harmony, rhythm and instrumental interplay.
The opener, Night at the Opera, took its inspiration, julian explained, from seeing the great Ornette Coleman live a few years back. Playing in his band had been Greg Cohen and so that night had sparked the creation of this current trio.
The bassist and drummer, among the most experienced and respected by their peers, are such complete musicians, their technique never used for show but to get to the emotional and intellectual heart of the music. Siegel, a decade behind them, is catching up fast.
In a generous evening of musical bliss, one special highlight was In our Time (New Ballad) with Siegel and Cohen playing subtle harmony lines on bass clarinet and bowed bass to embrace a virtuoso display of quiet drumming.
Baron, centre stage, is the most obvious focal point, not only for the musicality of his playing - he is surely the drummer who comes closest to making his instrument a melody one - but also for the glee that shows in his face - the sheer joy of spontaneous creation and the sharing of the jazz spirit.
But this really is a trio of equals - three solid anchors raising a body of music to the highest levels of skill and understanding.
They were recording at this concert and will be doing so again this week. May we soon have a CD to help us relive an evening to be treasured for a long, long time.


15/11/2005 Bev Stapleton www.allaboutjazz.com

Partisans -'Max'

Partisans are open in their admiration for jazz-rock/fusion. Yet the UK group's third album, Max, moves far beyond revivalism. It's dedicated to Max Roach, and the opening self-penned title track is embedded within Charlie Parker's Klact-oveeseds-tene, drawing immediate attention to influences well beyond the 1970s. In fact, the most impressive feature of the band is its ability to underlay the excitement and tonal innovations of jazz-rock with a rhythmic sensibility that owes more to bebop than Cream.

Max is not just a document of a live band but a carefully constructed album with thought given to textural variety, change of pace, and compositional interest; consequently, it holds your attention. The band's dense, yet airborne sound owes much to the flexibility of drummer Gene Calderazzo and bassist Thaddeus Kelly. Guitarist Phil Robson switches between effects-laden acid rock and pure, swinging Montgomery/Hall-era jazz. Reedsman Julian Siegel openly declares his debt to Wayne Shorter in the dedication of 'Wise Child', while paying musical homage across the disc with abstract yet emotional playing.

The jazz-rock feel reaches its height midway through 'Last Chance'. A brooding eastern-sounding prologue gives way to a scorching, riff-driven heart with Robson employing Hendrix-like distortion and Siegel wailing on bass clarinet. Yet even here things are different. Two thirds of the way through the piece dissolves in a glorious pastoral coda, Siegel's achingly lovely melody drifting over luminous guitar arpeggios. The dark forests of Miles Davis' 70s work are visited just once the humid, stop/start sounds of Bitches Brew are evoked on a track where a familiar tune eventually emerges in ghostly outline: Bowie's 'John, I'm Only Dancing'.

The latter track is one of three where Hammond B3 organist Jim Watson adds further colour, drawing comparisons with the swirling sounds of Larry Young. Trumpeter Chris Batchelor appears on three tracks to widen the tonal palette still further.

'Z Car' revisits a tune from an earlier album; the rhythm section glides between ever-changing metres, avoiding the awkward changes of gear that can sometimes afflict fusion. Here is no plodding rock beat but crispness and precision, keeping the tune in constant motion. The title of 'The Lacemakers' would appear to be a reference to the industrial origins of Siegel's home town of Nottingham. The skittering percussion evokes the sound of an 18th Century workshop alive with textile frames, inspiring Siegel to an impassioned tenor solo over Robson's rich chording.

This is an outstanding recording by a group of young, yet experienced musicians who have played with a wide range of major jazz names. Phil Robson, for example, has recently been heard in the company of the likes of Billy Hart, James Genus, Marc Copland, Tom Rainey, and Drew Gress, both in Britain and the States. Max is bound to engage the curious listener; it should also open doors to a wider series of superb recordings by the members of Partisans which deserve a hearing beyond the UK.


10/12/2002 Kevin Le gendre

Echoes Dec 2002

'Close up' (Sound CD 2001)

'Siegel is a multi-instrumentalist with a twist.He plays loads of reeds instruments (I'm partial to his bass clarinet and tenor sax) and also a mean double bass; I once saw him do an excellent gig with Stan Sulzmann at a festival in Finland, the day after he'd whipped up a jazz-rockish storm with Partisans.What I saw over that weekend was that Siegel has musicality more than multi-instrumentalism in his favour. Beyond the cut and thrust dynamics of his tenor playing, the swirling shapes of his soprano or the aquatic breathing of his bass clarinet, it's the strength of Siegel's voice as a conceptualist and composer that really makes Close-Up work. Interfacing between the worlds of straightahead, free improv and dance grooves (the junglistic In The Afterglow), Siegel posits his sonic world with a coherence and strength of character that reflects the lucidity of a man who knows exactly who he is. No matter what he plays. ' ****


16/11/2002 Peter Bacon

'Close Up'
Birmingham Post Jazz CD of the week Five stars *****

Birmingham Post December 12, 2002 Jazz and World CDs of the Year

'The format may be old - the straight (mainly) acoustic quartet of Saxophone, piano, bass and drums - and the style may be conventional - straight-ahead modern jazz - but the music which bursts from this disc makes the tried and trusted instrumentation and tradition sing anew -that's the most difficult challenge of all, and it's one that this saxophonist has risen to and more than met. The band helps: Liam Noble on piano, Jeremy Brown on bass and Gary Husband on drums. Noble goes for spikey, Monkish rhythms and crunchy chords, Brown plays the straight man, making everyone else sound better rather than drawing attention to himself, and Husband, making a welcome return to the drums after his attention-grabbing sessions on piano, pushes the other three constantly with his urgency and hugely exciting solos. Siegel himself switches from tenor to soprano mid-song, and also gives his bass clarinet an outing. On all of them he mixes different influences - Parker's bebop, Coltrane's sheets of sound, Wayne Shorter's gruff minimalism and Getz's lyricism -into a cohesive and personal voice. His compositions have a Shorterish concision, too. There are times on this disc when I thought of the great Coltrane quartet recordings, but not because any of the players sound like their predecessors. It's because they all sound like themselves but contribute to a common and unified musical creation where everything falls into place, and which has a great spiritual as well as intellectual depth. There's no room for a track by track listing of the delights to be found here - suffice to say it's an exceptionally fine disc.'


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