Darren Barrett: THE EVI SESSIONS: Mr. Steiner 
Street Date: November 8, 2019
db Studios

On Mr. Steiner, Barrett delves into the world of synthesis guru Nyle Steiner, credited for the invention of the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument) as well as the EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument), made popular by saxophonist Michael Brecker. Created in the 70s, the EVI presents trumpeters with a truly innovative and inventive new sound palette to draw from in performance, composition and production. Here, on Mr. Steiner, Darren Barrett delivers the true and full potential of the EVI by teaming the instrument with complementary melodies and augmentative orchestration. Barrett exudes, “the EVI for the trumpeter is just another instrument one can add to their arsenal just like the Flugelhorn or mutes…not only fun to play, it opens up your mind to new things.” Celebrating the marriage of electronic instrumentation and jazz sensibilities, Mr. Steiner marks Barrett’s reunion with saxophone legend Kenny Garrett, with whom the trumpeter recorded his first studio album First One Up, produced by Donald Byrd. Acclaimed guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel is featured on one track on Mr. Steiner (his third consecutive appearance for dB studios), and special guest saxophonist Noah Preminger displays his unique forward thinking approach to music here as well. 

The EVI is a midi wind controller – a wind instrument that is capable of controlling any midi synthesizer, with breath control being an important component for expression. Similar to a trumpet, octaves are achieved through the octave roller with the left hand while notes are played with the right hand based on conventional trumpet fingerings.  To achieve sound, no trumpet buzzing is needed as one simply applies air into the mouthpiece sensor to control volume and brightness. Although not a widely-known instrument, listeners may recall hearing the sound of the EVI – played by Mr. Steiner – in several movies including Apocalypse NowStar TrekWitness and many more. The EVI can be played as a monophonic (1 note) or polyphonic (2 or more notes) instrument.  As a polyphonic instrument it is capable of playing intervals, triads and chords – an example of which can be heard on “Mr. Steiner”, “Nu Vibrations” and “EVI Theme #1”. 

Having dedicated a year to the composition of this music, Barrett was thrilled to have this project brought to fruition with the help of such a talented, esteemed line-up including three highly celebrated voices in contemporary music as special guests: Kenny Garrett (“His voice and vision is extraordinary”), Kurt Rosenwinkel (“I’m always excited to hear how he will interpret my music with his powerful and inventive voice”) and Noah Preminger (“I love the way he constructs vocabulary. It’s very unique to me and it was a pleasure to have him on this recording”).

In addition to this stellar company, the recording features two distinctive rhythm sections – the first features Santiago Bosch on keyboards, Daniel Ashkenazy on bass,  Mathéo Techer on drums, Jeffrey Lockhart on guitar and Judy Barrett on percussion.  The second rhythm section consists of Gonn Shani on bass and Roni Kaspi on drums.  The recording also features two up-and-coming guitarists,  Roy Ben Bashat and François Chanvallon.  Chad Selph makes an appearance on organ to add some magic to the composition “dB Plus KG”.

The bandleader was honored to have Mark Steiner – nephew of Nyle Steiner – serve as technical consultant throughout the production stages of this project, helping with EVI issues and programming. Mr. Steiner is among the first recordings to showcase the NuEVI, a new version of the EVI currently being produced by Johan Berglund of Berglund Instruments in Sweden. This new instrument was used on a portion of the project and is an excellent addition to Nyle’s legacy. Matthew Traum of Patchman Music, referred to by the bandleader as “one of our leaders in the wind controller community”, contributed sounds to this recording as well. 

On his 11th release as a leader, Darren Barrett continues to solidify his position as one of the foremost innovators and forward thinkers in the contemporary jazz realm. 

The foundation for this electronic exploration was laid on The Opener in 2017 (“Jazz’s future may very well sound like this,” said Downbeat Magazine), which infused soundscapes and samples in modern jazz setting, and built upon on Time For Romance: But Beautiful (2018)a ballads record awash in brilliant sound design. Now with Mr. Steiner, Barrett once again showcases the tremendous possibilities for invention when undeniable talent meets ingenuity.

 

 

Darren Barrett The EVI Sessions: Mr. Steiner

ROSS BOISSONEAU
SOMETHING ELSE!
“You See Me” is probably the standout track. An electronic ballad, Barrett’s EVI lead lines are often doubled by guitar, while the backing keyboards shape and support the leader." Read the full review here.

GLENN DANIELS
THE JAZZ PAGE
"An impressive exploration of sound and creative landscapes." Read the full review here.

GEORGE W.HARRIS
JAZZ WEEKLY
 Review here.

Mike Greenblatt
THE AQUARIAN WEEKLY
"Barrett—who plays trumpet, piccolo trumpet, keyboards, and EVI—has written and arranged a fastidious pastiche of synthesized squiggles, enough to satisfy fans of jam bands, the avant-garde, instrumental funk, modern jazz, and alternative/progressive rock." Review here.

 

DEE DEE MCNEIL
MUSICAL MEMOIRS'S BLOG
"He is grateful for the new technology. This is his eleventh album release as a leader. It may be one of his more exceptional productions, blending electronic invention with ingenuity." Review here.

 

JIM HYNES
GLIDE MAGAZINE
"So, delve into some forward-thinking music and new trends and expect to hear primarily fusion. This writer is a little biased toward saxophonists, which offer a nice contrast to the many electronic sounds. Definitely check out the tracks with Garrett and Preminger. And, if nothing else, you know a little bit more about the mysterious EVI and EWI." Review here.

MATT MICUCCI
JAZZIZ
Track by Track Feature here

CHRIS SPECTOR
MIDWEST RECORD
"The adventurous know what they have on their hands here and are sure to enjoy it appropriately. Well done." Review here.

For Time For Romance: But Beautiful

WOODSHED
DOWNBEAT
Check out the feature in the April 2019 issue here

 
 

DANMICHAEL REYES
REVIVE MUSIC
"Darren Barrett and Kurt Rosenwinkel team up for a compelling rendition of Con Alma." Listen to track premiere here.

STEVE PROVIZER
THE ARTS FUSE
"Thelonius Monk’s “Ugly Beauty” is slow and atmospheric. Barrett plays simply and it works effectively with the rhythm section accompaniment." Read the full review here.

HECTOR MARTIN
CANCION A QUEMARROPA
"With the launch of this Time for Romance: But Beautiful, Barrett continues transgressing norms of music and imposes new milestones in what is a disc of ballads." Read the full Spanish review here.

GEORGE HARRIS
JAZZ WEEKLY
"The contrast, or juxtaposition, of exotic percussion and electronic wizardry with Barrett’s acoustic horn makes for interesting intersections." Read the full review here.

FILIPE FREITAS
JAZZTRAIL
"On his new album with the Time For Romance band, Canadian trumpet player Darren Barrett shows an enormous respect for jazz tradition, devoting himself to pure melody and transforming eight classic ballads to be firmly fit in the present." Read the full review here.

DEE DEE MCNEIL
MUSICAL MEMOIRS
"There is a sound block of ethereal, spacey additions like echoed flutes on a synthesizer and with the piano creating tinkling sounds atop keyboard chords and string lines that cushion Darren Barrett’s gorgeous trumpet sounds." Read the full review here.

For "dB-ish - The Opener"

BRIAN ZIMMERMAN
DOWNBEAT (EDITOR'S PICK)
"More than a technically proficient player, Barrett is a player of boundless soul and strong rhythmic drive, and though his style reveals a sturdy hard-bop backbone, he's willing to push his musical identity toward new horizons." Read the full review here.

GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO
THE NEW YORK TIMES
"Mr. Barrett’s new album is “dB-ish: The Opener,” a rangy collection of electrified original tunes that ought to push him back into the conversation." Read the full review here.

DAVE ROGERS
WTJU
"This disc certainly focuses on ensemble work and one’s flexibility throughout." Read the full feature here.

RON SCHEPPER
TEXTURA
"Barrett's fusion of electronic and acoustic sounds succeeds, and his attempt to invigorate existing forms comes across as both smart and sincere." Read the full review here.

CHRIS SPECTOR
MIDWEST RECORD
"Opening the sound up in fine style, this set shows just how well the listener can groove without getting up from his chair. A real breath of fresh air." Read the full review here.

DEE DEE MCNEIL
MUSICAL MEMOIRS'S BLOG
"This is a surprise package of infectious music. First cut, “The Opener,” and title tune sets the energetic precedence of this recording." Read the full review.

PHIL FREEMAN
STEREOGUM
Featured in the September edition of "The Month in Jazz". Check out the full feature here.

MIKE GREENBLATT
AQUARIAN WEEKLY
"Here, he's set a new bar way high what with his use of synthesis, samples, soundscapes and trippy electronica. Wholeheartedly recommended." Check out the full feature here.

FILIPE FREITAS
JAZZ TRAIL
"The scrumptiously groovecentric dB-ish: The Openerprovides a gut punch of originality in its no-nonsense conception. Open mind, open ears, open style, open world… the future of jazz might well reside here!" Read the full review here.

 
 

ASHER WOLF
JAZZIZ
“The Opener is exhilarating, quirky and unpretentious”. Read the full review here.

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