CD Review: Keith Pray's Big Soul Ensemble | Music | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
Pin It

CD Review: Keith Pray's Big Soul Ensemble 

Like San Francisco’s Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra, which is led by bassist Shelby, or Chi-Town’s Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, which is led by trumpeter Orbert Davis, Albany has its own neighborhood outfit: saxophonist Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble, which brings in a crowd (like the ones seated for these live recordings) weekly to Tess’s Lark Tavern. On this, the band’s debut release, the Capital District’s finest dig into compositions by Pray, pianist Yuko Kishimoto,Kenny Siegel guitarist/journalist John Dworkin, and saxman Brian Patneaude. The ensemble’s cohesive sonance is formed by pieces with built-in elasticity, like Pray’s deliciously swinging “Walkin’ the Dog” and the tranquil “I Remember Roland.” Just as Shelby and Davis do, Pray teaches as well as composes, and he grooves in other groups: his Soul Jazz Revival and his quartet. His “The Other Funk” and the disarming “The Gate (A Portrait of the Mohawk)” reflect his penchant for soulful sounds.

Despite (and maybe because of) their high energy, the brass and winds flash some faulty intonation, clunkers, and flubs in noticeable spots. But there is redemption to be found in Kishimoto’s “Elements” and Dworkin’s “Renee.” The soloists throughout the recording are superb. Live at the Lark Tavern carries on conversations between tradition and contemporary idioms and demonstrates how Pray pivots on the present and past in order for the music to breathe and grow outward from the bandstand. As trumpeter Nicholas Payton says, “In order to find the way, you must leave the way. You have to be open.”


Speaking of...

  • River Town Rising
  • River Town Rising

    Rosendale resident Sari Botton illuminates the surprisingly happening, environmentally progressive small town known best for its many festivals and cement.
    • Jun 28, 2010
  • Local Luminaries: Stephanie Monseu & Keith Nelson
  • Local Luminaries: Stephanie Monseu & Keith Nelson

    Keith Nelson and Stephanie Monseu, founders of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, talk about their circus life.
    • Jul 27, 2009
  • Star Power
  • Star Power

    Beth E. Wilson grapples with celebrity in contemporary art as she reviews the exhibitions of artists, Jo Andres and Keith Edmier.
    • Oct 24, 2007
  • More »
Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Hudson Valley Events

submit event
Andrew Bird @ Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC)

Andrew Bird

Fri., June 22, 7:30 p.m. — The trajectory of Andrew Bird's career path has been one of dramatic...
Time Travelers: Hudson Valley Artists 2018 @ Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art

Time Travelers: Hudson Valley Artists 2018

June 16-Nov. 11 — The works in the exhibition recognize the universal human desire to experience...
Saugerties Writer's Club @ Saugerties Public Library

Saugerties Writer's Club

Second and Fourth Wednesday of every month, 6 p.m. — Do you like to write? Have you ever thought of writing? Join...

View all of today's events

Latest in Arts & Culture

Chronogram on Instagram