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Jazz Junction Review: TIM OLSEN BAND – CREATURE OF HABIT – Planet Arts

Feb 2, 2015

Pianist Tim Olsen's “Creature of Habit” is a beautifully rendered collection of highly attractive compositions from Olsen, performed in either quintet or sextet settings. He earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in composition from Yale University and is currently Associate Professor of Music at Union College in Schenectady, NY as well as Director of Music and Organist at St. George's Episcopal Church in Clifton Park, NY. He performs in concerts and clubs with a band that varies in size from a quartet to an 18-piece big band. This is his very convincing debut recording.

Olsen describes his music as “mainstream with an edge”. It's jazz with good rhythmic foundation and creative soloing. The opener, “Barely Blues”, flirts with “the edge” with all members of the quintet getting in their licks. “The Way” has the distinct vibrancy of a 60s Blue Note session with Walentowicz burning on tenor and Olsen evoking the spirit of Cedar Walton at the piano. Smaldone also has a fine bass solo on this one. The title track sets up a deep rhythmic vamp with Olsen delivering a solo that alludes to Herbie Hancock's “Maiden Voyage”and Canterbury and Walentowicz rendering intriguing solos on this cooker. The dangerously sensual beat and lush melody of “Noche Azul” set the stage for beguiling solos that reflect Olsen's affinity for the music of vibraphonist Cal Tjader. “Park Avenue” (in six and ten minute versions) is sort of a cha-cha gone funky and you know that's a setting for some good stuff on these tracks. It all makes for a big “Yeah!” for Olsen's debut recording and one coyly but sincerely hopes future excursions of this caliber will become creatures of habit for Olsen.

Personnel: Tim Olsen – piano; Dylan Canterbury – trumpet/flugelhorn; Eric Walentowicz – alto/tenor saxophones; Lou Smaldone or Pete Toigo – bass; Rick Rosoff – drums or trombone; Pete Sweeney – drums.

Tracks: Barely Blues; The Way; I'm Tired; Baby Steps; Morning in Morocco; Park Avenue; Creature of Habit; Noche Azul; Lock 17; Park Avenue (extended version)