Ari Hoenig (drums), Jean-Michel Pilc (piano), Jacques Schwarz-Bart (tenor saxophone), Matt Penman (bass); recorded live at Fat Cat 9/12/03 & 9/13/03
Here we present the debut recording of The Ari Hoenig Quartet performing Ari's original compositions, recorded over the course of a weekend engagement at Fat Cat in September 2003. Philadelphia-born Ari Hoenig is known to all in the Smalls/Fat Cat community from numerous appearances at Smalls and Fat Cat over the past seven years. A virtuosic drummer with a fluid, melodious style and a sensitive touch, Ari is a clear standout at every performance. Here Ari demonstrates an original approach to giving the drums a leading role in an ensemble, and this is probably most evident in his unique ability to carry the melody line -- pitch perfect -- on his drum kit. The Ari Hoenig Quartet exemplifies a modern jazz style that is eclectic in nature, one that admits elements of music from diverse cultures and styles and interprets them within a jazz framework. The music is highly fluid, characterized by rapid shifts and resolutions that are invoked on subtle cues. This requires virtuosity, sensitivity, and a highly developed interplay between the members of the group in order to succeed.
The group brings Hoenig together once more with his longtime associate, pianist Jean-Michel Pilc. Since meeting in 1995 at Smalls, the two have spent several years playing together in one another's groups. Each is keenly attuned to the other, and they've attained a certain degree of musical conversancy that is rare. Pilc is a dynamic pianist whose playing is vibrant, spiritual, and deeply rooted. Bassist Matt Penman, also one of Ari's longtime associates, is swinging and expressive, one of the few bassists who can contribute equally to this kind of musical conversation. Jacques Schwarz-Bart rounds out the group with an exceptionally strong tenor sound. Jacques understands Ari's music well, and his soulful voicing of the melodies lends exactly the right flavor.
Every once in a while, there is a club or venue that is created solely to support the art of live music. In New York City from 1994 until 2003, Smalls was such a place. It didn't exist for profit, but for the development of the art itself. It created a community in which musicians could interact and learn from each other with no cover charge attached. It even went as far as giving struggling-but-deserving musicians a place to live or stay for the night. I think Fat Cat will become a worthy successor to Smalls, and I think it was an environment that was especially conducive for presenting and recording this music.
I have always believed in the power of music to transform people emotionally. This has been an underlying yet constant thought while composing this music. I hope the spirit of this is conveyed to you as well. Thanks for listening.