Veteran jazz guitarist Dan Rose pianist Claudine Francois’ recently released album New Leaves is an interesting addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums. Released March 5 through Ride Symbol Records alongside the re-issue of Rose’s 2019 covers compilation, Last Night…, the nine-song record is a presentation that will appeal equally to Rose’s established audience base and to jazz fans in general. That is due in no small part to the songs that make up the album’s body. They will be discussed shortly. The liner notes presented in the album’s packaging also plays into that appeal and will be discussed a little later. The album’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation. All things considered, they make this album a positive new offering from Rose and Francois.
Dan Rose and Claudine Francois’ new joint effort, New Leaves is a work that every lover of jazz will agree is well worth hearing. The 47-minute record’s success comes in part through its featured songs. The songs in question are a mix of original compositions and covers. The covers make up the majority of the album’s body, at a total of five songs. The other four songs are originals composed by Rose and Francois. The featured covers are important to note because while they were crafted by relatively well-known figures — Thelonius Monk, Horace Silver, Steve Swallow, Carla Bley, and Mal Waldron – Monk is by far the most well-known of that group. Keeping this in mind, opting for songs that are largely anything but standards once again gives listeners something original. It introduces those listeners to composers and artists (and in turn, songs) of which they likely were otherwise unaware. That is the case even with the notoriety of figures, such as Silver and Swallow. The original compositions, which are rich in their content and performances, juxtapose the noted covers to offer listeners even more reason to remain engaged and entertained throughout the course of the nearly 50-minute recording. That is because of the variety that they collectively offer listeners. The mix of originals and covers here forms a solid foundation for the album. The liner notes that are presented in the album’s packaging build on that foundation, making for their own appeal.
The liner notes that are featured in New Leaves are important because of the background that they offer for the record’s featured original compositions. Listeners will be interested to learn, for instance, ‘Le Desert’ was an original but not necessarily new composition from Francois. She points out of the song that the composition was years old and stemmed from a trip that she took to Africa. The background that Francois offers is brief, but still enough to create more interesting for listeners. The rest of the story will be left for listeners to discover for themselves. On another note, Rose points out of ‘The New Leaf’ and ‘Yes I Do’ are essentially companion works to one another. That is interesting considering that the songs are separated in the record’s sequencing. Again, audiences will be left to learn more for themselves.
Rose and Francois are not the only figures who share their thoughts about the album in its liner notes. Donald Elfman, who served as one of the album’s two executive producers — alongside David Preiser — also chimes in with his own thoughts. Elfman (this critic does not know if he is any relation to famed composer/producer Danny Elfman) speaks highly of Rose and Francois in regards to their talents, abilities, and the result of their partnership in this recording. Audiences will be left to read the comments themselves, too. Needless to say, the comments are inspiring in their own right. Between Elfman’s comments and those from Rose and Franncois, the album develops more depth what with the background on the original compositions and the personal thoughts on the album’s creation shared here. Keeping this in mind, the album’s liner notes prove clearly, their importance to the album’s overall presentation. They are just one more part of what makes the album appealing. The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation.
The presentation that went into New Leaves is important to note because as with Last Night…. This record is so soft and intimate from start to end. The quiet, relaxed nature and sound in each of the album’s compositions means that once again, the utmost attention had to be paid to the balance in the guitar and piano both between the pair and within themselves in terms of dynamics. As listeners will note, Rose and Francois perfectly compliment one another throughout the record in both cases. The result is that much like Miles Davis’ timeless album Kind of Blue, this record ultimately proves one that jazz fans will find just as welcome playing as the warm breezes of summer blow into the house, as on the radio on a rainy summer and spring day. As a matter of fact, the balance exhibited through the production even makes the general effect such that the gentle, positive vibes will even make it welcome on the radio as wood crackles in warm fireplace on a freezing winter night. The production makes the record’s sound and mood that powerful in its simplicity. When this is considered along with the impact of the album’s liner notes and featured songs, the whole of these elements makes New Leaves a record that any jazz fan will find enjoyable whether the leaves are on the ground or on the trees.
Dan Rose and Claudine Francois’ new album New Leaves is a welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums. That is due in part to its featured songs. The songs in question offer listeners a mix of original material and covers. The covers are just as unique in their simple presentations as the original compositions. That overall presentation makes for plenty of engagement and entertainment among listeners. The background that the liner notes add to the original compositions adds even more to that engagement and entertainment. The album’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation, bringing everything together. It makes the record’s general effect so powerful in its simplicity, making the album a work that will help set the mood in any setting any time of year. When one considers that impact along with the impact of the album’s liner notes and songs in general, the whole of those elements makes the album in whole proof positive that sometimes, less really is more. New Leaves is available now. More information on New Leaves is available along with Dan Rose’s latest news at https://danrosemusic.com.
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