Jesse Elder
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Jesse Elder

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" CD Review"

Jesse Elder is a 21-year-old composer, pianist, and bandleader with a bright future. Throughout a self-produced CD recorded in March of 2005, Elder’s musicianship and organizational skills evince maturity and wisdom well beyond his years. The antithesis of a blowing session, the recording is a showcase for 10 of Elder’s compositions, all of which are enjoyable and challenging. His pieces have little or no relation to popular song forms, and are often asymmetrical in structure. Elder favors odd meters and frequently shuns a steady pulse. Individual themes sometimes stand pat, develop in unexpected ways, or disappear altogether. Regardless of how different in character the sections are they always coalesce. Most importantly, amidst all of this seeming irregularity, Elder has a gift for writing catchy and substantial melodies.

A little more than two minutes in length, “Beams & Arches,” the disc’s opening track, excludes solos except for a brief wispy break by drummer Thomas Crane. Bouncing between Elder’s piano and the two horns (Colin Killalea’s tenor saxophone and the trumpet of Tatum Greenblatt), the melodies are bright and cheerful, standing out from a tricky rhythmic underpinning. As he develops the line, it loses some of the initial playful feeling and becomes more insistent. “A Nice Brew” is a brooding mixture of textures and studied movement. The melody (a memorable one) is divided between Killalea and Greenblatt. At times the music almost comes to a complete standstill; in other instances, a faint pulse can be discerned. Solos by Killalea and Elder are immersed in the music’s limp, uncertain temperament, and the pianist dares to play a rich, darting accompaniment behind the tenor.

The austere “Quaker Soul” is mostly comprised of a long drawn out melody sequence played by the horns. The piece avoids becoming too serious due to a piano introduction that is both graceful and knotty, and later reappears as a jaunty waltz. “Puddle Jumping” features an obstinately swinging theme that’s a bit claustrophobic, continually plowing forward, pressing one phrase into another. In contrast to the density of the composition, Elder’s 2-chorus solo leaves a lot of open space, allowing individual passages to sink in. Leaning on Matthew Brewer’s walking bass line (virtually the only one on the recording) and Crane’s skeletal drumming, even when his lines begin or break off in odd places (shades of Thelonious Monk and Andrew Hill) there’s a continuum and sense of order in everything Elder plays.

Built around a brassy phrase that lumbers along in an uneven gait, “Red Paint” is another one of Elder’s compositions that sounds complete despite its brevity. During succinct tenor and trumpet solos, the band plays a couple of throbbing riffs, then simply goes mute and lets the soloists continue on their own. Although in some respects “Leaf Lines” is the most conventional track on the recording, it nonetheless contains some of Elder’s idiosyncratic touches. The composition boasts a lovely, songful melody that gradually leads to a stormy interlude. Twenty-six bar solos by Killalea and Greenblatt over Crane’s unobtrusive backbeat seem longer because of the deliberate tempo.

Perhaps the most ambitious work of the set, “Like A Deer” skillfully integrates three stanzas from e.e. cummings’s poem, “All in green my love went riding,” into flashing hard-bop influenced themes and a busy, variable foundation. The flat, calm sound of Lindsey Stormo’s unaccompanied voice is an ideal vehicle for cummings’s haunting images of the deer and the intimation of death. Each of the three-line stanzas briefly halts the music’s march, and partitions extended solos by Killalea and Greenblatt.

Personnel: Colin Killalea—tenor saxophone. Tatum Greenblatt—trumpet. Jesse Elder—piano. Matthew Brewer—bass. Thomas Crane—drums. Lindsey Stormo—voice

Track Listing: 1. Beams & Arches; 2. Two Olive Trees; 3. A Nice Brew; 4. Matt's Blues; 5. Quaker Soul; 6. Puddle Jumping; 7. Linda's Way; 8. Red Paint; 9. Like A Deer (poetry excerpts by e.e. cummings); 10. Leaf Lines

- David Orthmann

" CD Review"

“Nothing is plumb, level or square.” This first line from Alan Dugan’s poem “Love Song: I and Thou” comes to mind while listening to composer/pianist Jesse Elder’s second recording. Unlike Dugan’s unnamed protagonist, whose haphazard structure holds up for just “one great moment,” Elder’s irregular audible designs come together as a whole, remain stable, and stand up to repeated listening. His diverse, melodically rich compositions are interpreted by an able band of young, largely unknown players who thrive on the odd twists and shifts in direction.

The jaunty theme of “Bridge Under The Water” sticks around long enough to become familiar and then goes into free fall, as shifting fragments are sounded out by tenor saxophonist Jeremy Viner and trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt. Over a repetitious figure duplicated by the pianist’s left hand and the bass of Christopher Tordini, Elder takes the first solo and continues his chain of thought after Viner enters. Later Greenblatt joins in, and the two horns feed off of each other.

Before reaching the straightahead jazz groove that undergirds solos by Greenblatt, Elder, Viner and Tordini, “While On The Plateau” traverses a lot of uneven terrain. Melodies that sound like incidental music from a 1960s cartoon leap from Elder’s piano and the two horns. The music takes a couple of unexpected turns when Greenblatt’s trumpet spits out a jazz theme over the rhythm section’s stop-time, followed by a swinging hard bop line in a meter that’s difficult to pin down.

Tommy Crane’s rock-hard drum and cymbal accents form the backbone of “Sun’s Eyes,” a dour fanfare that fitfully trudges forward. Crane’s brief break in the middle of the track is light and gangly, flaring out in different directions while he executes multiple rhythms.

After another mélange of Elder’s themes on “Jonah,” Viner takes an extended solo while the rhythm section stays in the pocket. Not unlike Elder’s prowess as a composer, the tenor saxophonist has a lot to say, despite his youth. Coming out of a bop-oriented vocabulary, Viner exudes intelligence and favors an easy, comprehensible flow of ideas over sheer velocity. In the course of the solo’s first eight bars, for example, it’s a pleasure to hear him whittle a handful of phrases into a distinct form.

Greenblatt also displays patience and a sense of logical development throughout his brief solo on “Blue Refuge,” a lovely waltz. An arc of probing sixteenth note runs is nicely framed by phrases that seem suspended in mid-air and plump variations of Elder’s melody.

Track listing: Bridge Under The Water; While On The Plateau; From Out Of The Grey Forest; Sun's Eyes; Jonah; Further Than Any Spell; Red Paint; Blue Refuge; Children In The Bend.

Personnel: Jeremy Viner: tenor saxophone; Tatum Greenblatt: trumpet; Jesse Elder: piano; Christopher Tordini: bass; Tommy Crane: drums. - David Orthmann

"Client Reviews"

Jesse and his partner, a female singer, were amazing! Showed up on time, met all of my special requests...he should charge 100 times the price. Highly recommend and will book them again.
--Stacey E.
Greenwich, CT

I hired Jesse Elder Quintet to perform during the cocktail hour for my June 9th wedding on Long Island. Throughout the planning, Jesse was very responsive to my emails and requests. Unfortunately, I did not get to hear as much of the quintet as I would have liked since they played at my cocktail hour (which I was only able to attend a portion of). However, numerous guests had commented on the 'talented jazz band' at our cocktail hour. Overall, I was very satified with the band's professionalism and talent! Thanks Jesse!
--Regina G.
Woodbury, NY

you could tell they were passionate about thier music which got the attendees to appreciate and enjoy thier music even more.
--Kayon W.
Philadelphia, PA

thank you for the wonderful job you and your band did at our engagement party. I can't even tell you how many people complimented your band. You guys were amazing and I hope you had a great time.
--Michelle Chnapko
Jersy City, NJ
9/20/07 - Various

"Itallian Review"

Per quanto giovane (classe ’83) Arthur Jesse Elder è un musicista dotato incontestabile talento e preparazione. Questo pianista e compositore originario del Michigan, ed ora cittadino delle grande mela, ha deciso di esporsi con un sostanzioso cd (ben dieci brani) dove interpreta brani di propria creazione con il suo quintetto che lo accompagna con sax tenore (Colin Killalea), tromba (Tatum Greenblatt), contrabbasso (Matthew Brewer) e batteria (Thomas Crane); in Like a Deer viene affiancato anche una voce recitante (Lindsey Stormo).
I brani hanno l’impronta del jazz moderno; composizioni elaborate che mantengono allo stesso tempo grande leggerezza e fruibilità, caratteristica ottenuta grazie ad una profonda attenzione per la melodia. Brani sempre evocativi e di notevole liricità; l’episodio conclusivo Leaf Lines è sicuramente prova della maturità compositiva di Jesse. Composizioni di benvoluta sobrietà (soprattutto in un periodo come questo), che spiccano delicatamente balzi di originalità laddove ce ne sia veramente il bisogno, mentre lasciano condurre il resto alla maestria dei singoli musicisti.
Lo stesso equilibrio si trova nel suo pianismo che fa sentire sempre la propria presenza senza mai prendere il sopravvento sul resto del gruppo. Un suono caldo tanto, lirico quanto riflessivo.
Complessivamente è un buon lavoro. L’ottima qualità dei musicisti lo rende un di grande interesse; per questo va l’augurio di conquistare un’attenzione sempre maggiore. Il sostegno infatti di una produzione più solida non potrebbe che valorizzare ancor più le qualità, già manifeste, di questo giovane musicista e del suo lavoro.
- Dimitri Berti

"French Review"

Une belle découverte comme on aimerait en faire plus souvent... Les compositions de Jesse Elder sont d’allure moderne, avec un petit côté "musique contemporaine", dans l’acception la plus courante du terme. Mais derrière tout cela, on perçoit un blues et un groove latents, suivant un déploiement du morceau plutôt mainstream moderne. Tout se passe dans la flexibilité de la musique, la souplesse des musiciens. Contrairement aux Cookers, que l’on vient de quitter, personne ne cherche à écraser l’autre, tous sont au service de la musique d’Elder ; ils y parviennent posément et sans peine. La structure musicale, complexe, ménge des espaces propices aux chorus longs, qui peuvent être touffus. Pourtant, cette complexité ne nuit pas à l’écoute : les thèmes sont entrecoupés de "stops and go" groovy et fins. On apprécie aussi les moments de respiration. A plusieurs reprises on se sent bercé, voire transporté, dans une bulle de coton libérée de la gravité. Au final, un concert éblouissant d’originalité et d’expressivité. -

"Corporate Client Reviews"

"Thanks for everything on Saturday. The music was a wonderful addition to our

Christine Labov
Random House Books

"I would just like to say thank you for providing the background music for our function again this year. Please also pass my thanks to the other members of the quintet for making our evening go with a swing. Your music was much appreciated and enjoyed by the partners of Robin Simon, as the hosts of the party, and also their guests."

Estelle Schaffer
Robin Simon LLP

"You guys did a great job!! The party was a huge success and we will definitely contact you again to perform at one of our functions!! Happy Holidays and all the best to you."

Linda Faccone
UBP - Various


Jesse Elder Quintet - Recordings of original Compositions from 2005 through present.



Jesse Elder is a NYC based jazz pianist, composer & bandleader. He graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy, where he received a "Fine Arts Award in Jazz Performance". Jesse went on to study on scholarship at Oberlin Conservatory and New School University. He is a 3 x winner in the national "ASCAP Young Jazz Composer's Competition" and was short-listed in the international "Thelonious Monk Jazz Composer's Competition". Jesse has performed at such venues as the Blue Note, Small's, Fat Cat, The Jazz Standard, BargeMusic, Top of the Rock, and many others. In addition to performing as a solo pianist and with his ensemble, Jesse performs regularly as a sideman with many artists including renowned vocalist Tony Middleton. Jesse's ensemble is available in all different sizes. In addition to concerts of original music they perform jazz standards for corporate events, private parties, cocktail hours, etc...