Reviews that mention James Emery

December 6, 2014

Creative Music Studio

Archive Selections, Vol. 1
Innova 805

By Ken Waxman

Brainchild of Ornette Coleman, Karl Berger and Ingrid Ingrid Sertso, the Woodstock, N.Y.-based Creative Music Studio (CMS) has had an influence that continues to resonate past its physical presence from 1971-1984. Dedicated to erasing the false barriers among different musics, its workshops and concerts not only helped spread freer sounds among players identified with jazz or so-called classical music, but with participants from overseas welcomed, it helped birth a sophisticated variant of world music. MORE

May 20, 2009

String Trio of New York

The River of Orion: 30 Years Running
Black Saint 120178-2

What began as an anomaly has, after more than three decades of evolution, become an institution. Yet, as the String Trio of New York (STNY)’s The River of Orion demonstrates, innovation and musical smarts still are still paramount in the group. These are expressed in two distinctive suites.

Guitarist James Emery’s title track is a nine-part investigation of what could probably be called Chamber Improv. Bassist John Lindberg’s five miniatures grouped under the title “Journey Platz” show off another side of the trio and could easily be labeled Chamber Swing. MORE

January 16, 2006


Frozen Ropes
Barking Hoop BKH-009

The Traveller
Jazzaway JARCD 011

Recording with strings seems be the secret desire of every saxophonist, at least ever since Charlie Parker did his famous BIRD WITH STRINGS sessions in the 1950s. These two CDs, recorded almost simultaneously, but in different countries, show how two veteran alto players of the first and second wave of the avant garde adapt to variations of this setting.

Sonny Simmons, 72, who first recorded with fellow California saxist Prince Lasha back in 1962, chooses the accepted with-strings formula. This session from Oslo playing over harmonies composed, arranged and conducted by flautist Vidar Johansen and interpreted by the Kringkastningsorkesteret of two violins, a viola and a cello. MORE

November 3, 2003


between the lines btl 027

James Emery has finally fully realized his potential.

That may seem like a harsh assessment of someone who has been part of creative music for almost three decades, collaborating with major players and one-third of the String Trio of New York (STNY) for more than 25 years.

But in the past, most projects the New York-based guitarist has concentrated on have either been co-op (such as the STNY), or had him featured in a supporting role. Even on FOURTH WORLD, his previous between the lines CD, he seemed to be more of a sideman to saxophonist Joe Lovano than the leader of the date. MORE

August 26, 2002


Don’t Play, Just Be
Between the lines btl 021/EFA 10191-2

Thoroughly discredited -- or merely out of fashion -- in North America since the mid-1960s, the admixture of jazz and classical music called Third Stream seems to thrive in its afterlife in Europe. Or at least when it’s applied by Viennese composer/flugelhornist Franz Koglmann.

Excluding the final quartet track, the eight others here, divided into two suites, find Koglmann, clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Tony Coe, guitarist James Emery and bassist Uli Fussenegger providing the improvised components of music the flugelhornist wrote for the Klangforum Wien, a leading New Music orchestra. Adding soprano Ursula Fiedler for the second suite, four songs on the theme of late love (“späte liebe”) unbalances the equation with some extra-musical considerations, however. MORE

February 22, 2002


Fourth World
between the lines btl020/EFA10190-2

Guitarist James Emery has finally produced a memorable session of superior chamber jazz under his own leadership after several earlier missteps. However, the acoustic stylist, who has been the paramount exemplar of a group musician during his more than 20 years as a founding member of the String Trio of New York, appears to have done so by ceding most of the spotlight to others.

Throughout most of the nine tracks of this disc -- four of which he wrote -- master saxophonist Joe Lovano has the major role. Not only does he play his customary tenor and soprano saxophones, but also the C melody saxophone, straight alto saxophones, alto clarinet, shakers, gongs, bells, log drums and even the drum set. His wife, Judi Silvano, adds her shaded wordless vocalese throughout as well. There are times here, in fact, when Emery seems to have put himself in a position like that of another acoustic guitarist, Charlie Byrd, vis-a-vis the famous Jazz Samba LP with Stan Getz. Although they were both co-leaders of that 1962 date, Getz’s nuanced tenor playing gained all the notoriety that accrued from first playing the bossa nova, and when Byrd’s solo was excised from the hit version of “Desafinado” many forget the guitarist was there at all. MORE

May 15, 2001


Luminous Cycles
Between the lines btl 015/EFA 10185-2

James Emery leads a valiant fight, but in the end he's done in by the acoustic guitar curse. Ever since jazzers switched over to the electric model following Charlie Christian's tenure with Benny Goodman's band in 1939-1941, the acoustic model has been little more than the electric's poor cousin. Sure, versatile soloists like Charlie Byrd and Laurindo Almeida may have concentrated on it for renditions of Brazilian music and standards, but this conservative approach was in retrospect only impressive when compared to lite-jazz, New Age or fusion followers who brandish the instrument to convey their so-called sensitive sides. MORE