NYC-based trombonist Josh Roseman is of the newer generations of jazz players who’ll play in a funky groove-oriented band one night, a cutting edge avant garde group the next and a hard bop unit the night after that. In times past, most jazz musicians would find the stylistic "niche" in which they thrive the most and then stay there unto death. Without lacking anything in the commitment department, Roseman and many of his 20/30-something contemporaries joyously and unashamedly embrace many styles both within the jazz spectrum and outside it, and the results can indeed be exciting.
One rainy Monday NYC night, the Josh Roseman Unit took the stage at the Knitting Factory, one of the city’s primeier clubs for envelope-pushing jazz, rock and more. "Took the stage" is a misnomer: the band began playing amid the audience, playing in a semi-circle then "marching" a la a New Orleans parade or funeral band. The music had an appropriate New Orleans cry, swagger and strut to it as the players weaved their way to the stage. After taking the stage the stage they were joined by a few others, then the line-up for the night was established: Roseman, two saxophonists (one of whom doubled on an electric keyboard), a trumpeter, an accordionist, an electric guitarist, an electric bassist, a drummer, a percussionist, a piano/organist and a fellow that played what can only be described as a very big melodica. The ensemble made with a rollicking amalgam of African groove-oriented tuneful jazz (think Hugh Masekela, Abdullah Ibrahim), swinging, sultry New Orleans polyphony, and cool, slinky Meters-style funk, which furnished the crowd of 30 or so enthusiastic patrons with first-class round tickets to Groove Central. Everybody in the band got to shine some, but self-indulgence was forgone completely this was a BAND, not just a collection of players this was an ensemble music. The JR Unit was clearly enjoying themselves during their almost two-hour (!) set and their joie de vive was palpable. This rainy night saw not THE Future Of Jazz To Come but it was clearly A Most Likely Future that bodes well for the music in general. Immediate yet imaginative, the Josh Roseman Unit is a band to watch.