Challenge
Team and Variations
Isaac Darche

Team and Variations

CD | Challenge Records | 0608917339529 | CR 73395 | 09-14

About the album

I was very excited about this album. I feel that it is very alive. The players are outstanding and the material we are working with is both fresh and familiar. 

Glenn Zaleski is playing with everybody right now. His musicality, precision, dexterity, touch and fluency come together in a deeply creative core. It's an amazing thing to behold. He is an outstanding accompanist as well as soloist.

Chad Lefkowitz-Brown is pushing the tenor saxophone forward. He is one of the rare jazz musicians who grabs everyone's attention and doesn't let go. He uses his complete technical command to expand the tenor saxophone language into new realms. 

Desmond White's has everything: a huge sound, a big beat, the ability to play technically demanding music effortlessly, a lot of chemistry with everyone in the group, and the rare ability to support and enhance at the same time. 

E.J. Strickland is a monster. He combines musicality and support with aggressiveness and invention. His sound could fill a stadium. His spirit and personality always shine through.  "Uplifting" is the word I think of when I think of E.J. 

I was glad this record documented some evolutions in my own playing. I was able to fatten my sound through improvements in my technique and equipment. I expanded my range of tempos. I enhanced my vocabulary of concepts to include innovations in harmony, phrasing, range and rhythm. I refined some of my existing techniques.

I know everyone in the band through playing in New York. We are on the front lines of what is happening right now. I played in bands with Chad and Des. Glenn and I have many mutual friends. I met E.J. at an audition.   

Five out of the eight songs on this album are my originals. With these songs, I try to write melodies that are memorable and singable, yet use uncommon rhythmic and harmonic phrases.  The music is actually very difficult, but everyone in the band made it sound easy. 

I like to play standards for several reasons. The listener is often already familiar with the song structure, so they can focus on our interpretation in more detail. There are nuances to the performance that are more apparent to the discerning ear. Also, the style that we play comes from the jazz tradition. The language that we use is in many ways tied to the songs themselves.  Pushing the boundaries musically, yet keeping a certain authentic "jazz feeling" was very important to me on this project.

I push myself everyday to grow and develop as a musician. I aim to produce that is enjoyable but opens the imagination of the listener to new possibilities. I feel very fortunate to collaborate with peers who set the bar so high. 

I hope you enjoy this album.

 

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