Formed by tenor saxophonist Michael De Nola and pianist Gabriel Jodorkovsky in 1997, the Hudson Jazz Ensemble derives its name from sessions in a Hudson Street loft in Manhattan’s meat packing district. This is an unpretentious, creative band whose parts are equal. Each member has their own voice and space to perform, but most importantly they play effectively and convincingly as a band. The Hudson Jazz Ensemble is joyful and exuberant. They play as if they are conversing back and forth freely about baseball scores and politics.
Their music seems organic to the West Side: straight-forward and matter-of-fact but also dipped in a mythic and heroic past. There is a sense of sepia-tinged nostalgia. This is not the sophistication of Lincoln Center or the experimentation of the Knitting Factory. It feels like jazz for the working class hero. It’s gritty, and mindful of its roots.
Nearly half of the compositions are written by De Nola, the rest by Jodorkovsky. De Nola’s ‘Knee Nose Back’ opens with a modernist mantra of a black-and-white production line which then turns into an elaborate colorful dance daydream. His counterpart’s ‘Elusive’ features Jadorkovsky on piano and Venegas on violin; the ballad burns slowly and hauntingly like an immigrant telling their tale of life before the war. You can almost imagine Fred Astaire breaking out performing precise dance steps in a deserted warehouse in ‘Another Song About Manhattan.’ Midway through this piece the band simply stops allowing a short, off-kilter piano interlude. It’s a magical ragtime pause that bespeaks of an entirely different era before returning to the original theme. It’s a stream of consciousness glimpse of another era of Manhattan. History turning on a dime.
"The Consequences" isn’t fancy, just well played and thoughtful.