Drye And Drye

Fathers and sons may work together on cars, while others might play baseball in the back yard. But if they are both musicians, performing together is an easy choice. This is the core and foundation of Open Letter (the collaborative double-disc album by Howard Drye, the elder Drye), and Brian Drye, the younger Drye. Both discs contain tracks composed by Howard. Disc two features pieces by Brian. There are ten tracks on each disc, with five each. The entire project is 66 minutes long, so it’s possible that the music could have been put onto one disc. However, this might have misinterpreted the intention. The material is a tribute both to personal and historical jazz influences, including those of Horace Silver and Duke Ellington, as well as family members and each other. Despite having two separate discs, the similarities between father and son are easily recognized. The program is an hour long and features the same backing quartet: Jeff Hermanson (trumpet and flugelhorn); Mike McGinnis, clarinet, alto, and soprano, and Dan Fabricatore, bass; and Vinnie Sperrazza, drums. McGinnis is Brian Dye’s bandmate in Four Bags, a contemporary chamber jazz ensemble. McGinnis has previously performed with Hermanson. Fabricatore has also performed with McGinnis’ not and the Dymaxion Quartet. Sperrazza is a member of the Ben Holmes Quartet. His credits also include Drew Paralic. Howard Drye, a Berklee College of Music graduate, is the current music director at a Rhode Island Catholic Parish. Brian Dye, who is part of New York/Brooklyn’s jazz scene, has a long history. He also worked with Clark Terry (another Ellington alum) and Rosemary Clooney. Disc 1 opens with McGinnis playing clarinet on “Blues for Jimmy”, a swinging tune that honors Jimmy Hamilton, an Ellington sideman clarinetist. McGinnis shows his talent, imitating Hamilton’s cool vibrato and bop-tinted tone at times. Fabricatore’s wonderful, woody bass solo is a great addition to the arrangement as it ebbs. The ensemble then returns to the exhilarating number, which is highlighted by Sperrazza’s rhythmic fills. The haunting “The Empty Chair”, a tribute to Johnny Hodges, is the melancholy song. This is a great example of sax soloing, with other horns sometimes slipping in and doing unison lines. It is both bittersweet and sweetly poignant. The hard-bopping “Precious Silver”, dedicated to Horace Silver, is another jazz icon. McGinnis’ melodic soprano melody is another highlight of the piece. It also recalls Silver’s blues-based style. Howard Drye shows his ability to write ballads in “Yesterday Today and Tomorrow”, which he wrote almost four decades ago for his wife, but has never recorded. Howard’s lush baritone sound is reminiscent of Gerry Mulligan’s rich tonality. The romantic underpinning includes Howard’s lush baritone Sax sound. The second disc opens with Brian’s auditory praise to Thelonious Monk. “Elbows” is titled after Monk’s angular musical approach, and the fact that he sometimes used his elbows for hitting the piano keys. Monk’s spirit is prominent, particularly with his irregular rhythmic stride. The interlaced horns remind me of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, with a crisp, clean arrangement that develops naturally and patiently over seven minutes. On the moving, quiet and evocative “April 1st 1910”, Brian pays tribute to Harry Carney, Ellington’s musical partner. This refers to Carney’s birth date. Brian recalls that Howard was fond of a Carney poster which graced his parents’ home. Brian sings praises to a younger artist in “Orion,” which was created to honor Bob Bowen, a Brooklyn-based bicyclist who died tragically from a hit and run accident in 2010. Brian arranged the dynamic track around a Bowen-repeated bass line. Fabricatore provides the rhythm section. Howard, McGinnis and Brian provide plenty of horn alchemy. The graceful “Sidney”, which has Southern influences, features a gentle hymnal refinement that alludes to Howard’s South Carolina heritage. Some may think the musically-ornate number is named after Sidney Bechet, who used clarinet and sax. However, it’s a cat celebration that reflects the qualities of Brian’s cat. Open Letter can be streamed here in its entirety. It was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Mike Marciano at Systems Two in Brooklyn. Marciano supplies engineering that matches the retro compositions and performances. The result is well worth the effort. http://audaud.com

Leave a Comment