Jacob Varmus Septet: Aegean


(Jacob Varmus Septet)
Release Date: 
Friday, October 23, 2015

     Jacob Varmus is no stranger to themed albums, what having accompanied his father on a hefty feat of creating music with the themes of Cells, Evolution, and Cancer. As you can imagine that must have been an interesting theoretical read to delve into.
     On his latest work, as the Jacob Varmus Septet, the album takes on a whole new kind of perspective that I found entirely interesting and that it was fully funded by jazz superfan and Patron, Apostolos Georgopoulos. Each track on the album is named after a family member or a close friend of Mr. Georgopoulos. That being said it was interesting trying to interpret and imagine how fitting of personas the music manifested themselves into.

     Going into the album with the above mentioned information it's almost a rollercoaster of emotion as the music comes pouring out of the album. Track one, Elma, is a classy tune that floats by on a graceful dance of sensibilities that makes you wonder who this person was to Georgopoulos. Jazz interpretations can take you in about any direction.
     Then you have your more obvious tunes like Areti which step outside the comfort zone of Jazz standard and play on a more whimsical tone, almost childlike, but with an odd attempt at coming of age at it's subtle core.
     Then you take a song like Selena and you find this noir quality to it that reminds you of 20's Los Angeles or New York. There's an essence of grit to the tune behind the horns while piano keeps a sophisticated mood. What was the inspiration I wonder?
     Aegean seemed to me to be all over the map. The music seemed to be a mixture of loose fitting and tightly complex with improvisations and room for solitary interpretation. The rules for the album, again to me, seemed to be more abstract as if trying to fit moods, personalities, and ambiance within one another. For the most part it worked, but I did feel like some of the horn work slipped into a maybe too loose context, but like I said, this is more of an abstract painting then anything else. Worth checking out as both a Jazz listen as well as a cerebral exercise in imagination and detection.

AJ Garcia
Review by AJ Garcia
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