Joe Rosenberg Group

GROUNDWORK • Cadence Jazz 1109.

Joe Rosenberg (ss), Jean-Luc Guionnet (as), Olivier Py (ts), Eric Jacot (b), Sylvain Clavier (dr)

CADENCE • Robert Spencer - November 2000

Steve Lacy famously criticized the Paris Jazz scene in Cadence some time ago, but these guys seem to be taking care of business.  This disc comes with the Yogi Berra epigraph, "If you come to a fork in the road, take it."  Once you start listening it makes sense.  For this basically freebop outing is all things to all people.  The music is basically jazz, with heads and solos, but there's often some very accomplished three-horn playing that recalls the best moments of classics like Ornette's Free Jazz and Albert Ayler's New York Eye and Ear Control.  So when this quintet comes to a fork in the road, they take it.

Each of these instrumentalists is top-notch: listen to the unison horn work on "Groundwork".  Occasionally they also underscore and punctuate one another's solos expertly.  Bassist Jacot, meanwhile, has a sound so powerful that it recalls that of his countryman Jean-Jacque Avenel.  Olivier Py on tenor has a great intervallic solo, shading into multiphonic, on "Kyu Shi Ni..." and shines throughout.  On soprano, the leader is an individual, playing bop-inflected solos not in the least in the Lacy bag - although he obviously knows his way around chords, scales and intervals as well as Mr. L., who is their all-time master.  Guionnet sounds a bit Ornetteish, especially on the entrance to his "Groundwork" solo, and so fits well with this overall freebop framework.  Clavier is a powerful drummer who highlights expertly. The music on this disc never lapses into cliché, is consistently surprising, and builds well on established tradition.  These are five musicians to watch.     

CODA - May/June 2001

Soprano saxophonist Joe Rosenberg puts the reeds to the ready in this bustling quintet, with Jean-Luc Guionnet on alto and Olivier Py on tenor adding to the roughage over the frisking underpinnings of bassist Eric Jacot and drummer Sylvain Clavier.  Rosenberg’s writing encourages unanimity on the move, with tight horn formations of ample bop complexity dividing for solos and small-group tangles, only to surge again as one.  The quizzical, itchy horn theme of Kyu Shi Ni introduces some raw and robust conversations with the brawny but watchful Clavier, including some rough stuff from Py, dark alto maneuvers, and a tart venture from the leader.  Group thought remains paramount, nonetheless, and the same track accommodates the first deep feature for Jacot.  Bracing stuff, this, with Clavier anchoring the group like gravity itself.

IMPROJAZZ • Marc Sarrazy - juillet-août 2001

Que dire du disque de Joe Rosenberg si ce n’est qu’il ne s’y passé pas grand chose?...  Résultant d’une formule similaire à celle du disque precedent (sauf qu’iln’y a pas ici de trompettiste), la music ne décolle jamais vraiment, sans doute étouffée dans l’oeuf par une rythmique trop conventionelle.  Ainsi dénué d’une veritable propulsion, Groundwork ennuie malgré les brillantes interventions de Jean-Luc Guionnet (as) et de Olivier Py (ts).

What to say of the disc of Joe Rosenberg if nothing big happens?  The result is a formula similar to his preceding disc (except there isn’t a trumpeter here), the music never really takes off, without doubt stifling in the egg by a too conventional rhythm section.  In this way devoid of a true propulsion, Groundwork bores despite the brilliant interventions of Jean-Luc Guionnet (as) and Olivier Py (ts)

JAZZLIVE • Emanuel Wenger

Vertrieb: Extraplatte Das Schöne am Schreien von Plattenbesprechungen ist, dass man gezwungen wird, immer wieder neue Entdeckungen zu machen. Eine solche erfeuliche Entdeckung ist der aus Boston Massachusetts stammende und seit 1995 in Hongkong lebende Sopransaxophonist Joe Rosenberg.  Bereits vier Alben hat er auf dem Music & Art Label (834, 938,939,940) veröffentlicht, die von Musikerkollegen wie Anthony Braxton und der Fachpresse insofern diese die Aufnahmen von Joe Rosenberg überhaupt wahrnahm, euphorisch aufgenommen wurden.  Auf der vorliegenden CD spielt er mit jungen französischen Musikern.  Drei Saxophonisten bilden die Frontline, die sich gegenseitig zu Höchstleistungen antreiben, Komplexe kollektive Soli und  raffinierte Arrangements machen das Album zu einem besonderen Hövergnügen.  Aber auch für das Rhythmusteam bleibt genug Platz zur Entfaltung.  

One of the joys of writing reviews on CD releases is that you have to make new discoveries all the time. One of these joyful discoveries is Soprano Saxophone player Joe Rosenberg from Boston, Massachusetts, who has been living in Hong Kong since 1995. Joe Rosenberg has already released four albums under the Music & Art Label (834, 938, 939, 940), all of which were received euphorically by both, music colleagues like Anthony Braxton and the professional press, in as much as the latter had noticed Rosenberg's recordings at all. On this particular CD Joe Rosenberg plays together with young French musicians. Three saxophone players form the front line enticing each other to peak performance. Complex collective solis and sophisticated arrangements make this album a particular pleasure to listen to. There is also plenty of space left for the beat group to unfold its potential."

IAJRC JOURNAL • Spring 2002

Reed-heavy free bop is the order of the day for the Joe Rosenberg Group.  Soprano saxophonist Rosenberg and his French associates live by Yogi Berra’s musical rule, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it,” the epigraph for “Groundwork,” new on Cadence Jazz.  Decisions and pathways abound in Rosenberg’s five compositions, which are given lengthy treatment by the band.  Bassists Eric Jacot’s solid pulse grounds the ensemble, leaving drummer Sylvain Clavier the freedom to move about on his kit, providing accents and dramatic color to the proceedings.  Rosenberg is fond of writing little riffs as cushions for the soloists, a nice detail that keeps players and listeners alike interested.  The group is equally at home with dreamy slow tunes (“Choice”) or up tempos (the loose-as-a-goose “S.O.S.”).  There is no information on any of the players, so all I can tell you is that they sound like a real group and not a pick-up ensemble.  One listen to the closing “S.O.S.” and the way the horns get in each other’s way through a long collective improvised section was enough to make me start this disc over again with special attention to the saxophones.

All Music Guide • Steven Loewy 2001

Under the wrong direction, three saxophones plus string bass and drums could lead to tedious results. Thanks to the highly sophisticated composing talents of soprano saxophonist Joe Rosenberg, this particular mix takes on an innovative, invigorating flair. Joined by a French group consisting of alto saxophonist Jean-Luc Guinnet and tenor saxophonist Olivier Py, with Eric Jacot on bass and Sylvain Clavier on drums, Rosenberg focuses on highly intricate lines that wind and intersect in complex ways. The concept is much different than other saxophone groups, such as the World Saxophone Quartet. For one, melody is important to Rosenberg. Far more than a blowing session, the quintet rarely performs at full volume, instead focusing on the more exciting nuances of a piece. Sometimes the saxes blow in unison, but often they diverge or solo individually. Each player in the group is a strong and independent improviser, and Rosenberg builds on his special talents. The piano is not missed, as the horns and bass fill the gap. The whole is satisfyingly pleasant, a feast where the details count.