The Sunday Inquirer (Philadelphia)
Jentsch Group Large
(Fleur de Son Jazz ***)
Like other members of the avant garde, guitarist and composer Chris Jentsch leaves some space for splats, squiggles, and other ruminations by his horns. But the Brooklyn-based Jentsch, 50, who grew up in Cherry Hill, pays more mind to his expressive side on this 75-minute suite celebrating the cycles of life.
The six-part work presents lots of metaphorical overtones along with musical ones. "Route 666" is a neurotic blues in an odd meter that Jentsch says conjures how difficult the road taken can be. "Home and Away" is a delicate piece of Americana that shows the composer can write pretty, while "Old Folks Song," which begins with a free section, is a handsome ditty in which Jentsch uses distortion with distinction. Rochester trumpeter Mike Kaupa plays a lead role throughout.
That Jentsch pulls off this 17-piece big band is no small feat. His band is not some derivative throwback, but a progressive, surprising lot. Jentsch, who has degrees from Gettysburg College as well as the University of Miami, the New England Conservatory, and the Eastman School of Music, plays some heady music that resonates in the heart, too.
- Karl Stark