Picture a Different Jazz

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

If you have ever wondered what Led Zeppelin and Nirvana songs would sound like given the jazz trombone treatment, then a trip to Henfling’s Firehouse Tavern in Ben Lomond this Friday may satisfy your curiosity. There, the Josh Roseman Unit will be treating diners to these and many other musical curiosities.
New York-born trombonist Josh Roseman has a musical resume that would be the envy of many a jazz musician.
A protégé of the late trumpet master Lester Bowie, Roseman also has worked alongside forward-thinking jazz artists such as saxophonists Steve Coleman and John Zorn, trumpeter Dave Douglas and many others.
Whereas many jazz musicians find, after a period of experimentation, a stylistic niche to fit into, Roseman has defied this tradition.
Instead, he has embraced many styles both within the jazz spectrum and outside it to forge his own distinctive approach to playing.
Critics and colleagues alike have celebrated his musicianship, describing him as “one of a handful of cats around today who have managed to make the trombone sexy” and “a powerful and eccentric presence on the trombone.”
Whilst Roseman has contributed widely to the work of other musicians – he has more than 60 credits in his discography ranging from Sheryl Crow to recordings of Mahler’s works – he waited until February to release his debut CD.
Entitled “Cherry,” the album comprises 12 tracks that display both his virtuosity as a musician and the breadth of his musical tastes.
The Led Zeppelin and Nirvana covers are there, along with tracks by the Beatles, Marvin Gaye and others.
In addition, six of Roseman’s own haunting compositions show he is as adept a composer as he is an interpreter of other artists’ work.
Roseman’s mentor Bowie is featured on the album, giving one of his last performances.
The London Guardian named “Cherry” as its CD of the week, and said, “Roseman’s odyssey through his favorite songs is   full of an infectious lust for brass, life and music.”
The Josh Roseman Unit on Friday will be a six-piece affair, comprising Roseman on trombone, Will Bernard on guitar, JT Lewis (of Sting’s band) on drums, Patrice Blanchard on bass, Barney McCall on keyboards and Grammy-nominated Peter Apfelbaum on sax.
Their music certainly lives up to the description, “thinking music that you can party to,” and their infectious, irreverent mélange of styles and influences should keep even the most jaded listener interested.
As Greg Tate says on the liner notes of “Cherry”: “If jazz is a religion then Josh Roseman is surely a sinner and a hail hardy Hallelujah Brother goes out to him for that.”  Check out the Josh Roseman Unit on Friday for some sinfully enjoyable jazz.

First published in “411”, The Salinas Californian, May 10, 2002

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