Review from the Ottowa Jazz Festival 06

Review from the Ottowa Jazz Festival 06

The first show on Day Two of the TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival featured a trio of artists ranging from underexposed to near-legendary.

Jon Gordon’s performance at the 4 pm Connoisseur Series demonstrated the ability of this thirty-something alto/soprano saxophonist and his trio to take a largely standards-based repertoire, turn it on its side, and re-examine it from a different perspective. A precocious youngster who picked up the horn at ten, Gordon was already playing with luminaries like Red Rodney, Barney Kessel and Mel Lewis while he was still in his teens.

He may have been a strong traditionalist at that point, but in recent years he’s begun to expand his reach, playing with more contemporary artists like Mark Turner, big band leader/composer/arranger Maria Schneider and Bill Charlap. His own records have demonstrated an increasingly schizophrenic desire to reinvent the standards repertoire and develop his own skills as a composer. His next two discs, which explore both areas, are already in the can and set for release over the next couple of years on ArtistShare.

They worked especially well on the set’s closer, Gordon’s “Joe Said So.” Despite the imaginative approach they took to standards, this piece made me wonder why Gordon didn’t include more of his own compositions during the show. He’s clearly a writer with plenty to say, and as modernistic as the trio’s approach to standards could be, the three players really opened up on this tune.

Hopefully he’ll begin receiving attention from larger audiences beyond New York. So many players are out there vying for exposure, but he both deserves it and seems poised to get it.

Press quotes

"Jon is one of the greatest alto players ever"

- Phil Woods

"Gordon has embraced the history of his instrument, carrying with it the ability to extend music as a universal language"

- Wayne Shorter

"Not only a great soloist, but also possesses a gorgeous tone."

- Kenny Washington

..."a masterful young altoist with a brilliant future ahead of him".

- Joe Lovano

"One of the finest musicians of his generation and deserves a great deal more recognition than he has received from the jazz media."

- Ken Dryden

4 + 1/2 Stars-"Gordon has created a multifaceted statement that invites repeated investigations. He's onto something important."

- Down Beat