Alto saxophonist and composer Loren Stillman follows up his 2007 debut release, Blind Date with his new Pirouet Records release, Winter Fruits. Blind Date garnered Stillman such catchwords as: "expect a great career," "unique compositional feel," "Marvelous," "very deep," and "a stroke of genius." Stillman has compiled a new group of musicians and a unique set of compositions to deliver a surprising and creative 51:09 worth of music.
Winter Fruits features the collaborative approach of Bad Touch - a band comprised of Nate Radley (guitar), Ted Poor (drums), Gary Versace (organ), and Loren Stillman. "Winter Fruits" is a great example of the ability of these musicians to develop and convey a musical storyline. The composition begins with alto and guitar playing the angular theme in unison accompanied only by Poor’s rolling set work. The theme is developed with the addition of Versace’s organ, leading to a cadence and Versace setting the feel for the solos. The solo is entirely a group affair; although Stillman takes the melodic lead, each member joins the conversation and the interaction builds to a full conversational statement, with each player listening to and responding to the other.
"Man of Mystery" begins with a beautiful chordal opening by Radley. The musicians take their time in developing the theme, layering each unique contrapuntal voice in, building the story, suspense, and interplay. This is the case throughout Winter Fruits, each composition seems to be built on a central melodic figure instead of a series of chords that a melody weaves through. Each composition is built on a melodic theme with a network of contrapuntal voices that interact to cadences, after-which yet another variation of the theme is introduced and developed to tell the compositional story.
Stillman’s alto playing is very creative throughout Winter Fruits. His big warm tone is always conveying interesting textures, colors, and is free of cliches. A great example of this is Stillman’s playing on "With You." The Stillman penned composition has melodic fragments that reminds one of "Ask Me Now" and "Darn That Dream" over a progression that conjures up thoughts of "Round Midnight." Stillman masterfully develops the theme with warm tones and musical care. Aways listening and interacting with the other members to start the next musical thread. Versace does a great job of accompanying, providing an interesting color to each phrase and making positive comments throughout the developing conversation.
Winter Fruits is another fine project by Stillman. Stillman lives in Brooklyn and has an active career as an sideman, teacher, band leader, and composer. The CD is excellently mixed and mastered; as are all Pirouet releases. Winter Fruits is highly recommended if your collection contains artist such as: Chris Potter, David Binney, or either of the Strickland brothers. Set back and enjoy the Winter Fruits; they are well worth the effort.