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David Aaron

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for ever green




Review of Mimico

(Short Memory) by John Pietaro

Flip City is a trio comprised of saxophonist David Aaron, bassist Will McEvoy and drummer Dave Gould, each frequently heard on the NYC free jazz circuit in a variety of ensembles. On Mimico, their sophomore release, the band delves into thick tapestries of sound, which, more often than not, bring to mind a much larger ensemble.

Some of the works presented here have composed sections but the overall effect is one of a thoughtful, multi-part free improvisation, dramatic and compelling. Aaron's presence on both tenor and soprano is equally forceful, with long-held, arcing phrases commanding the atmosphere like a tugboat's call tearing through a thicket of fog. Just when you feel he will resolve some of his strained melismata, he doesn't. McEvoy offers strong statements as well, crafting lines of artful tone, intense counterpoint and carefully plotted supportive work. And Gould is a champion of the timpani mallet, rolling over (what seems to be) an extended kit including various metal and wooden surfaces, creating pulsing, at times burning patterns, which rarely move out of mezzoforte and really thrive at much softer levels. Flip City are master listeners, something not always engaged in by champions of the shock of the new.

The drama inherent in this slower, sometimes pensive brand of free music is further accentuated by the credits, which inform us that opener "Upfront Sometime" was inspired by works of Oscar Wilde. To a more contemporary point, "Your Response" is dedicated to Aimee Goodman, host of the celebrated left activist radio program Democracy Now!, its title based on Ms. Goodman's frequent retort to guests after she's hit them with tough commentary. And it all seems fitting as Flip City, if in a less direct manner, challenges listeners.



David Aaron on tenor & soprano saxes, Will McEvoy on bass and Dave Gould on drums. All three members of this trio have played here on occasion: saxist David Aaron with Dee Pop, bassist Will McEvoy with Patrick Breiner and drummer David Gould with TomChess & Hanuman Sextet (with Andy Haas & Don Fiorino). None of those gigs were very recent although Mr. Aaron does send us an occasional disc to check out.

The first piece, "Upfront Sometime" features Mr. Aaron on soprano with the rest of the trio simmering quietly underneath. "Mamihlapinatapai" is tightly written and played with well crafted lines for the tenor sax and bowed bass. Bassist McEvoy is featured on "Coachman" and sounds good at the center of the trio. Mr. Gould plays a wooden box on "Your Response" with tight lines from the rest of the trio all connected. The six songs on this 25 minute disc are not that free but more about creating a mood of contemplative reverence. No screaming goes on. Cleanly and warmly recorded and just right for a more mellow day. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

Live Reviews

True to spirit of jazz, Aaron continues to work at being unpredictably unpredictable while writing music and arrangements that hold together yet do not stifle his terrific band.

Read the rest of Budd Kopman's live review.

David Aaron's Short Memory at 55 Bar, NYC
By Budd Kopman

January 19, 2006

Jazz is more than a musical language that can be learned in school. It is more than playing “this” scale over “that” chord when it is “this” part of a progression to get “that” sound. Jazz is an attitude tied to the creative desire to communicate directly to the listener through music.

Having recently reviewed Cynical Rat Bastard, finding it fascinating music that is pure fun and deep at the same time, I really wanted to see the group live. Aaron and his band did not disappoint. They are full of attitude and the joy of performing, plus they all are top notch musicians.

55 Bar was packed for the early (7 PM) show. This was a CD release gig, so yes there were friends and family present, but many in the crowd were there to listen, and Aaron had a nice rapport with them.

Since the tracks of Cynical Rat Bastard are really connected in the way a movie score would be to create a flow through time, I was surprised that Aaron chose to not do the obvious thing and play the album straight through. However, the longer tracks of the album can stand by themselves, and so the set moved along well anyway.

Aaron's music is an interesting combination of the accessible (meaning there is a melody or motive, usually with rhythm) combined with the unpredictable, the quirky and and, well, the cynical. A fireplug of a guy, Aaron usually gets a big, gruff sound from his sax that easily filled the room. When he really gets into his solos he rocks, bobs and weaves in abandon. Most of the time, he would introduce the tune's theme, play a solo as the trio locked in behind him, and then move to the side as the members of the trio took solos.

Greg Ritchie (drums), was always busy, with a concentrated look on his face as he felt his inner metronome while continually driving the music, all the time listening and reacting to Wigton (bass). Wigton, who is quite tall, and plays the bass with the pin pulled way out, gets a very clear, sharp tone and effortlessly moved all over the bass, providing a harmonic basis which is made up of melodic figures. Rhythmically, he linked with Ritchie and together they cooked. When either of them took a solo, the energy did not drop one bit.

Rob Ritchie (guitar), who is Greg's brother, plays totally against form. He accompanies sparsely, using unfamiliar chord forms, single notes and moving clusters that manage to fit with the sound and really help define the “cynical” sound. His solos are very much the same as he spits out sharp shards of notes, bends, clusters, and yes, the occasional run. This is done, mind you, while he chews gum and looks bored. He let his guard down once when Wigton did sometime particularly nice.

The longish set flew by as most of the tunes from Cynical Rat Bastard were played, along with a few that were recorded but which did not make it on the record.

If you like your jazz on the accessible bleeding edge, and can smile and tap your foot at the same time, then Short Memory is a band to hear. I look forward in great anticipation to their future.

Personnel: David Aaron: tenor saxophone; Rob Ritchie: guitar; Greg Ritchie: drums; Matt Wigton: bass.

Reprinted with permission. Copyright (c) 2006 AllAboutJazz.com and Budd Kopman


CD Reviews

With a feel that touches on the ‘70s rhythm sections of Ian Dury’s Blockheads, Bastard is just that, a somewhat unholy combination of melodic and free that screams to be heard as well as whimpers in self deprecation.

Read the rest of Elliot Simon's Review for allaboutjazz.com

There seems to be some external literary programme to this set, but ignoring everything but the music, I can only say this: what a very good and individual tenor saxophonist! David Aaron's done a wide variety of things, so I read. All I know is this one CD, and that's enough for the present context. I'm almost lulled into silence by satisfaction, beginning with a minute or so of a warm-up.

Read the rest of Robert R. Calder's Review for allaboutjazz.com

Cynical Rat Bastard
By Budd Kopman

David Aaron presents Cynical Rat Bastard as “a heavy dose of aural voyeurism [which] invites the listener to press an ear to the keyhole for this insomniac’s foray through an all-night carnival.” The pose of a quirky, gen-X, ultra-cynical slacker is reinforced by the CD notes crediting someone for “missing the point” and dedicating the release to “my dear cynical rat bastard, martha,” plus placing craigslist among the thank you's.

This would all just be funny (in a cynical way) but for the high quality of the writing by Aaron and the musicianship of his band. The thirteen tracks are meant to be listened to from beginning to end and can easily be thought of as a score to a (black and white?) movie, a dream sequence or a stream-of-consciousness collection of impressions.

Read the rest of Budd Kopman's the review.

(S)axophonist David Aaron has a firm handle on what he calls “aural voyeurism.” His recording takes on a seductive and cinematic feel which isn’t cliché, thanks to robust performances by each member of his quartet—players who know the languages of mainstream and experimentalism.

Read the rest of Mark F. Turner's review.

"The music paints an interesting and colourful canvas, grabbing attention by combining bright splashes with darker hues daubed for effect."

Read the rest Jerry D'Souza's review.

London, England
March 2006/Issue 95
David Aaron's Short Memory
Cynical Rat Bastard
Short Memory
*** - (3 stars out of 5, 'good' rating)
Four-piece led by a NY-based tenor saxophonist who, judging by the album
title, is a real charmer. The music's a lot cooler though, and with a
Scofield-influenced guitarist Rob Ritchie, the band create a stark, open
atmosphere, mixing gritty groove/spy theme jazz, and indie rock.
-Selwyn Harris

Rat Bastard’ An Insomniac’s Foray Into An All-Night Carnival by Brian P. Lonergan, Chronicle Correspondent   December 15, 2005

“Cynical Rat Bastard” is the newest album by Jamaica-based tenor saxophonist David Aaron with his Short Memory project, which in its latest incarnation
is a quartet featuring Rob Ritchie on guitar, Greg Ritchie on drums and Matt Wigton on bass.

Read the review