Release date: October 4, 2016
Label: Woolgathering Records
Prolific and earnest bassist/composer Matt Ulery, helps to spearhead a musical movement of art and beauty emerging out of the vibrant, blossoming scene in Chicago with his 7th album, “Festival.” Featuring his quintet (Loom) and an expanded 27-piece jazz orchestra (Loom/Large), this major work in three parts is available on double vinyl, CD, and digital download formats on his own label, Woolgathering Records.
“Festival” presents a rich variety of instrumental music with dramatic intensity and dynamic, choreographic aesthetic design with deep historical roots in American jazz and folk forms while celebrating the survival of experimental art music presentation.
Part 1 begins boldly with Ulery’s first ever arrangement on record, a monumental version of Jimmie Rowles’ jazz classic, “The Peacocks,” featuring violin soloist, Zach Brock (Stanley Clarke, Snarky Puppy) and jazz orchestra including five saxophones, five trumpets, 4 trombones, tuba, piano, bass, drums, and violin section, followed by an enterprising original epic for this ensemble, “Hubble,” also featuring lead players such as Greg Ward and James Davis.
Parts 2 features the core quintet including Rob Clearfield/piano, Jon Deitemyer/drums, Geof Bradfield/clarinets, Russ Johnson/trumpet, and Ulery/double bass introducing six pieces exploring new resounding grooves and lyrical lexicon.
Part 3 is something of a secular parade as Ulery transitions to tuba and Clearfield to pump organ as the quintet channels the spirit and emotions of social ritual and traditions.
Deeply acknowledging the lineage and legacy of jazz and American music, “Festival” celebrates the values a community recognizes as essential to its ideology, its social identity, and to its historical continuity and physical survival.
For a decade, Ulery has been the leader of his own groups and frequent collaborator based in Chicago. He has produced and released 6 previous albums of all original music as a leader including his three most recent releases of critical acclaim (Top 50 albums - NPR), “By a Little Light,” “Wake an Echo,” and “In the Ivory,” on Dave Douglas’s Greenleaf Music record label in 2012-2014.
Recently featured in Vanity Fair’s "Millenials Shaking Up the Jazz World,” Ulery recently contributed as a bassist/improviser on Makaya McCraven’s album, “In the Moment” (International Anthem), as string arranger on Wild Belle’s “Dreamland,” (Colombia Records), and has an on-going collaboration with the 4-time Grammy winning sextet, Eighth Blackbird.
"Not surprisingly, Ulery's newest album — "Festival" – continues his pursuit of the unconventional... When Ulery celebrates the release of "Festival" at the Green Mill Jazz Club this weekend, he'll be leading the Loom quintet, giving listeners a taste of the array of colors, tones and musical sensibilities he articulates on "Festival." Full feature here.
"Bassist Matt Ulery has established himself as one of the most rigorous, thoughtful and ambitious figures in Chicago's jazz scene, a composer with a deep curiosity and an ability to deftly assimilate his wide interests. His new double album, Festival, serves as a summation of what he's been working toward the last decade, but it delivers a statement more sophisticated and accomplished than anything he's done yet." Read here.
RAUL DA GAMA
JAZZ DA GAMA
"How can you not be inextricably drawn to a performance that is so intriguing and enduring?" Read full review here.
"The larger ensemble includes more brass, reeds and strings for a pair of songs. “The Peacocks” has some rich pastoral textures” and “Hubble” lets the string section glide over the suave drum pulse, with harmonies and moods being the main purpose here. Modern Copland?" Read full review here.
"With imagination, power and chops merging into one undeniable mass, Ulery is a Chicago jazz treasure that keeps his claim valid here." Read here.
"Matt Ulery has created his own sound, hearing a confluence of sounds and styles unlike any contemporary composer...festival is a treat, three albums on one disc, 74+ minutes, and well worth your time and attention." Read here.
"By rooting himself to folk music, he gives the songs a strong emotional tether, allowing the harmonies to achieve great depths, and the melodies to soar to great heights. Also impressive is how the grand majesty of Ulery’s compositions comes through whether performed by orchestra or small combo." Full article here.
A precious world, out of time. This song (as well as the full album) reminds me of the universe at once baroque and futuristic of “Dune”, without tensions, only coated with sweetness. Magical. Full feature here.
GREGO APPLEGATE EDWARDS
GAPPLEGATE MUSIC REVIEW
"Ulery gives us one of his very best here. More lyric than avant, you find yourself drawn to the endless charm of his inventive imagination." Read here.
"While each band brings a different sound to the table, the organic nature of the bassist’s compositions tie the 13-song collection into a cohesive and engrossing experience" Full feature here.
CHICAGO JAZZ MAGAZINE
"On Festival, Ulery gives us a collection of songs with compositional depth and rich orchestration. One can’t help but assume the music here was intended to evoke the “visualization” of a story. No matter what story the listener sees, the collection of music heard is something most are sure to enjoy." Full review here.
"Here, in the visionary spirit of Matt Ulery, we find him in awesome creativity. " Read full Italian review here.
"Matt Ulery's approach to music combines complex harmonies, academic tradition and free, pure jazz." Read the Russian review here.
THE CLASSICAL ARTS
"Talk about being attuned to each other! They breathe on each other’s solos. You can hear little curli-cues and dipsy-doodles in the background to keep things interesting during the kind of passages that are constantly changing and evolving. " More here.
MICHAEL J. WEST
"Ulery's arrangement of Jimmy Rowles' "The Peacocks" is dramatic and sexy."