News Jazz 08/03/2018

Saxophonist Elijah Shiffer Releases Unhinged

Saxophonist Elijah Shiffer Releases Unhinged

New York, NY (Top40 Charts) Jazz saxophonist and composer, Elijah Shiffer, will celebrate the release of his debut album, Unhinged, at local Brooklyn music hub Erv's on March 21st, at 8:00 pm. Unhinged features Shiffer's far-ranging compositions as well as his contemporary arrangements, and reflects his extraordinary musical imagination and virtuosic command of his instrument. The tracks offer nothing short of a wander through the landscape of Shiffer's unprecedented creative vision. If he begins this journey with an allusion to the historical context of the rhythms and groove/time "feel" he often borrows from traditional jazz, Dixie-land, early blues and swing, he quickly builds on the blues mood, transitioning seamlessly, as he does in the track Material Overture, to the emotions he hopes to evoke. The tracks are whimsical and rhythmically surprising, conversing with the blues feel through the harmonic and the melodic structures, but connecting these through a style he calls "avant trad" jazz to the subversive, surreal humor of punk and rock. Shiffer is "all about making connections between seemingly far flung things." His original arrangements of the early jazz standards, That Da-Da Strain and That's A Plenty, fracture the originals, collaging the first by breaking it apart and reassembling it. Shiffer's playing is fearless, at moments growling or chuckling, as he does in the punk blues Loosestrife, at times philosophizing with his instrument on the very nature of what blues is, playing with the tuning (A=450 rather than 440) to enhance the raw, plaintiff quality of the music. He pays tribute to such greats as Jelly Roll Morton, and adapts classic rags from the 1910's to experimental metal. Unhinged is a provocative, deeply satisfying exploration of the range of what a saxophone can express.

Not since the 1970's, listening to Sonny Rollins at Woolsey Hall with the Milestone Jazz Stars, have
I heard a saxophone insinuate, laugh, parody, whisper, and growl. Shiffer is a gift in everything he attempts musically. His talent is as limitless as his imagination, his playing at once disciplined and fearless, measured and mesmerizing. I have followed jazz for four decades and am astonished each time Elijah picks up his horn. M. Witt (OneTrickDog* Records)

Unhinged grew out of Shiffer's desire to connect the seemingly disparate styles of traditional jazz, Dixie-land, early blues and swing - genres with a different energy from the Bebop-modern jazz continuum - to a new style closer to free jazz. He draws on the rawness and abandon of such greats as Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus and 60's experimental jazz that looked back to early jazz and blues, but applies a modern rock/punk feel to the earlier groove, creating a uniquely contemporary sound. Shiffer is joined by his band-mates Andrew Shillito on guitars and banjo, Marty Kenney on electric bass, Tim Rachbach on drums, and Jay Rattman on bass saxophone and slide whistle.

Unhinged will be released on OneTrickDog* Records on May 15th. OneTrickDog* is a small independent label, specializing in jazz, jazz fusion, and the occasional blues. Recent releases include: Instead, by jazz pianist Ben Rosenblum, Drivin', by blues guitarist SaRon Crenshaw, and Wayne Tucker's second album, Wake Up and See the Sun.


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