Hudson leads Genre benders/blenders in debut CD

Galactic Diamonds
Steve Hudson Chamber Ensemble
Groovaholic Music CD

New York based composer and pianist Steve Hudson performs his compositions with several groups. He’s currently working in a quartet setting with violinist Zack Brock, singing cellist Jody Redhage, and percussionist Martin Urbach. The group just released their debut CD and will be touring in Europe in March 2011.

All of the members of the Steve Hudson Chamber Ensemble are skilled genre benders and genre blenders, able to adroitly move between styles such as jazz, tango, and avant classical – and many points in between. “Tune with Tango” (video below) is a signature example of their simpatico sense of ensemble and deftly phrased, gently articulated, yet still zesty sense of rhythm.

A more eclectic offering is the title tune, which moves from fusion tinged modern jazz to a lushly harmonized neoromantic coda. There are tender stretches too, like the ballad “Song for John Lennon.” It’s one of Hudson’s most affecting solo turns; he combines impressionist post-bop chord voicings with wistful waltzing.

Galactic Diamonds is indeed a versatile outing; and by no means does it only showcase its leader. Brock lends a bluegrass fiddle’s inflections and gentle swing to “Keep it Simple.” Redhage crafts a cantabile, double-stop laden solo on “Moving On” and doubles her cello line with supple vocalise on “PG.” Urbach never swamps the acoustic instruments, but still makes his presence felt in fulsome grooves, as on the effusively syncopated “Speak Out.”

Meanwhile, Hudson doesn’t restrict himself to just playing piano. He plays cafe jazz solos on melodica on the lilting “Para.” On “Funky Hobbit,” he tears it up on a Fender Rhodes electric piano, moving the ensemble closer to ‘out improv.’ Both Brock and Redhage are encouraged to shred a bit in response to Hudson’s enthusiastic acid jazz riffing.

Whether pushing the envelope with energetic improvisatory exertions or crafting more gradually developing essays, the Steve Hudson Ensemble is consistently engaging. Galactic Diamonds is a thoroughly enjoyable recording.

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