Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra
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Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE
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"allmusic.com Muse CD Review, February 2009"

"Ayn Inserto's second recording with her jazz orchestra is grand and sophisticated to a degree as to immediately elevate her status alongside acknowledged influences, and well known, experienced chart makers like Maria Schneider, Bob Belden, and Mark Masters. This Boston based big band plays Inserto's original music, tempered to strict tolerances, read and interpreted precisely and joyously. Main soloist George Garzone is also a powerful figure in the way the music is shaped, but it is his distinct post-John Coltrane tone that establishes a high inspirational standard for all members of the band to follow.

Inserto directs and conducts her charges through eight original pieces individually dedicated to her teachers and influences, which include Dave Eshelman, Bob Brookmeyer, Frank Foster, Steve Lacy, Michael Brecker, personal friends, family, and bandmembers. This is complex music, clearly well rehearsed, compelling and commanding for any astute listener, and firmly placed in the modern mainstream neo-bop contemporary continuum.

Boston saxophonists like Rick Stone, Brian Landrus, Kelly Roberge, Sean Berry, and especially Allan Chase work in tandem with Garzone, while lead trumpeter Jeff Claassen fronts the brass section. A new star to discover is pianist Carmen Staaf, a wonderfully melodic and inventive keyboardist who fills nooks and crannies, and sets the pacing, color palate, and tone for the band nearly as much as Garzone.

"Eshel Sketch" kicks off the set with an exuberance indicative of the entire date, a bouncy, happy, childlike piece based on Staaf's dainty, stated figures being cleverly traced by the horns. Stairstep bright lighting flicked repeatedly on and off identifies "A Little Brook," the depth of the composition shaded by a far reaching horizon that mirrors Brookmeyer's modern visage of color balance with little accents of splashed starbursts framed in an easy swing. "Vinifera" pays tribute to Foster — it is a piece commissioned by ASCAP and the now defunct International Association of Jazz Educators — as spiked tips of melody followed by quick counterpoint presents the most intricate construct, far from simple harmonics or dynamics, but lean and mean. Garzone's soprano on "Laced with Love" does not so much assimilate Steve Lacy, but urges the horn section in a mounting, lingering, and slow refrain that he punctuates in characteristic sharp tones, providing a lovely eulogy. Of course Garzone's tenor during "To Michael Brecker," as you would expect, takes into account the free floating no time concept of Coltrane married to Brecker's inexhaustive lyrical mindset. "Snowplace Like Home" (love the title) has Chase and Garzone hopping about on a jumpy repeat theme where their dual soprano saxes push the envelope harmonically, and the closer "Simple" is a basic melody reminiscent of Count Basie, short and sweet, with the exception of a purposefully sour note at the end of the pretty phrase.

Inserto is impressive as a writer of modern jazz, her band is more than up to the task, and there's a real feeling of camaraderie cementing the band as a true working mule team. Especially if you are not familiar with her name and sound, keep Ayn Inserto's Muse in serious consideration for a distinguished place in your collection. It is an excellent representation of what's happening in her virile, imaginative mind, and comes highly recommended."
- Michael G. Nastos, allmusic.com Muse CD Review, February 2009. - allmusic.com


"JazzTimes Clairvoyance Review"

"There's an energetic creative force on the horizon named Ayn Inserto, and based on this debut album, she's Maria Schneider on steroids. Boston-based Inserto, an assistant professor at Berklee, arranged all nine tracks and composed six. George Garzone, who is a guest tenorist, wrote the remaining three. The other guest soloist is trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, who happens to be Inserto's mentor. That connection alone gives credence to the album.

What you'll hear may be confusing. In Inserto's contemporary mindset, there seems little need for bar lines or, in many instances, tonal centers. Her strength is in creating dense colors and textures, as on Clairvoyance. Sticking with a conventional, 17-piece band, she devises huge, avant-garde canvases filled with clusters (she loves minor seconds). Brookmeyer is laid-back, never deviating from his sophisticated tones, creating a fascinating contrast to Inserto's dissonant backing, particularly on ?hadow Dancing. Garzone, on the other hand, tends to become as anarchic as the band, as on Hey, Open Up. Pianist Kyle Aho takes a very poetic solo on Early Sunday Morning, and there is outstanding rhythmic support from bassist Jeremy Allen and drummer Richie Barshay on 'Lazy Saturday Afternoon.'"
- Harvey Siders, Jazz Times Clairvoyance CD Review, September 2007 - JazzTimes


"allaboutjazz.com Clairvoyance CD Review"

"Ayn Inserto is a young, beautiful and very talented composer who has just made a dramatic entrance into the world of big band jazz, offering a new voice on this debut album. Her music is new and unconventional, striking a different chord than what one usually expects from a big band project. Inserto assembled her sixteen-piece Boston-based orchestra with some of the best local talent. A student of legendary trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, who likens Inserto to Maria Schneider, she recorded this album with her mentor and reed man George Garzone as special guests. Except for three tracks penned by Garzone, the balance consists of original compositions and arrangements provided by the leader.

What is clearly evident here, right from the opening The Mingus That I Knew, is that you will not be treated to a typical big band sound. The charts are sophisticated, with intricate lines and texture characterized by direction-changing moods and tempo. The composer crafted the entire album around her two guests, who provide a slew of tasteful solos.

The opening tune features an impressive performance by Garzone, who continues his assault on tenor and soprano on his own Hey Open Up, Just Blow and the finale, The Chooch, a wild and humorous piece containing the only vocals (also provided by the saxophonist). Bob Brookmeyer shows his stuff on Inserto's Shadow Dancing With a Hint of Gold and Early Sunday Morning, and then shares the spotlight with Garzone on Lazy Saturday Afternoon and the title cut.

I have to be perfectly honest and state that it took me a couple of listens to truly appreciate the fresh new sound that differentiates this album. I suspect that we will be hearing more from Inserto in the future, and rightly so. Ayn Inserto's sophisticated charts and clever arrangements on Clairvoyance serve to harness that energy to create a unique big band sound without the heavy orchestration."
- Edward Blanco, allaboutjazz.com , Review of Clairvoyance - allaboutjazz.com


"Cadence Review of Music"

"Just when you might be suspecting that that relic of an earlier era, large ensemble/big band Jazz might be ripe for the La Brea Tar Pits, along comes a couple of CDs that put that notion to rest. The fact that these two records are very different from each other is further evidence that large ensemble Jazz is far from dead and in fact, may be transcending the clichéd approach that defines the genre for many listeners.

In the hands of the young, gifted composer/arranger, Ayn Inserto, the genre is not exactly revisited as revitalized. Although her treatment of the ensemble generally follows traditional instrumental choir based orchestration, her compositional approach breathes new life into the idiom. She claims Maria Schneider and Bob Brookmeyer as muses but, to my ear she has already equaled and perhaps surpassed these august icons in sheer musical sophistication. Ms. Inserto ably leads her young and vigorous band through a challenging set of attractive originals. The two aspects of her writing that stand out to me are her harmonic daring and her ease with contrapuntal textures. With that many instruments available, it would seem natural to give everyone something to do in terms of discreet lines yet the traditional approach to big band writing has been to emphasize big blocks of harmonic mass, often with redundant doublings at the expense of independent line writing. Inserto certainly knows how to take the former road when appropriate, but more often, her pieces rely on vital contrapuntal discussions among the arrayed forces and, indeed, her independent lines are more than mere decoration but are integral to the logical success of her music.

It's rare to hear someone so comfortable dealing with the considerable challenges of writing in this fashion but Inserto delivers here in a big way. As I mentioned, her harmonic palette is striking too. Dissonances and ear bending polychords are no stranger to her writing but always utilized with utter logic and satisfying resolutions. You only have to hear a few bars of the first piece, "Eshel Sketch," for your ears to sit up and take notice. In addition to her first-rate band, she has enlisted talents of saxist George Garzone. I left impressed with his take-no-prisoners style and his complete command of the range of the expressive devices available to the modern post-Trane saxophonist. It's quite clear on the evidence of this recording that Ayn Inserto has a bright future ahead of her and I look forward to following her career. Records this good make a reviewer's task very easy and I unhesitatingly give Muse my highest recommendation." - David Kane, Cadence Magazine - Cadence Magazine


Discography

Clairvoyance, 2006
Muse, Creative Nation Records, 2009

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Bio

Ayn Inserto is a groundbreaking composer who is emerging as one of the preeminent voices of her generation. She received her Masters of Music degree in Jazz Composition from the New England Conservatory in May 2001. She is a winner of the 2007 IAJE/ASCAP Emerging Composer Commission honoring Frank Foster, the 2003/04 and 2005/06 ASCAP Young Jazz Composers' Awards and has received various honors which include the Concord Pavilion Associates Marian McPartland Award, the Pacific Coast Jazz Festival Most Outstanding small jazz ensemble, and the 1999 Best Original Composition award at the Billy Higgins Jazz Festival.

Her music has been performed at the Berklee Performance Center, 1999 and 2008 IAJE Conferences, California State University of Hayward Jazz Festivals, Reno Jazz Festival, Billy Higgins Jazz Festival, New England Conservatory of Music, Montreux Jazz Festival , the Umbria Jazz Festival, the Zeitgesit Gallery/Lily Pad, McGill University, Jazz at Lincoln Center Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, 2008 Terni Jazz Festival, La Pietra in Florence, Italy, and the 2008 Sant' lpidio Jazz Festival in Porto San Giorgio, Italy.

Ayn has been commissioned by ASCAP/IAJE, Cal State University East Bay, Los Medanos College, Foxboro High School, Harvard Jazz Band, Marin Catholic High School and Fairfield High School, and by George Garzone to arrange his music featuring him as a soloist with jazz orchestra. In March 2008, she was invited as a guest artist by the Colours Jazz Orchestra led by Massimo Morganti to give a 3-day seminar on composition and arranging, and to conduct the jazz orchestra in a concert of her music. Her newest commission by Amherst College will be premiered in February 2011.

She currently resides in Boston, is an associate professor at Berklee College of Music and teaches privately in Massachusetts. She released her first album, Clairvoyance, featuring Bob Brookmeyer and George Garzone in 2006. Her second album, Muse, was released February 2009, featuring George Garzone.

“There’s an energetic creative force on the horizon named Ayn Inserto, and based on this debut album, she’s Maria Schneider on steroids,” wrote reviewer Harvey Siders in his JazzTimes review of 2006’s Clairvoyance. Critics called it an “auspicious maiden voyage” (Jack Bowers, Cadence) and the music “new and unconventional, striking a different chord than what one usually expects from a big band project” (Edward Blanco,
AllAboutJazz.com).

"In the hands of the young, gifted composer/arranger, Ayn Inserto, the [big band] genre is not exactly revisited as revitalized. Although her treatment of the ensemble generally follows traditional instrumental choir based orchestration, her compositional approach breathes new life into the idiom. She claims Maria Schneider and Bob Brookmeyer as muses but, to my ear she has already equaled and perhaps surpassed these august icons in sheer musical sophistication." - David Kane, Cadence Magazine

"Ayn Inserto's second recording with her jazz orchestra is grand and sophisticated to a degree as to immediately elevate her status alongside acknowledged influences, and well known, experienced chart makers like Maria Schneider, Bob Belden, and Mark Masters." - Michael G. Nastos, allmusic.com Muse CD Review, February 2009.

More information at www.ayninserto.com