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The Verve Jazz Ensemble: Night Mode (LightGroove)

Review of sixth album from the dynamic group co-led by drummer Josh Feldstein and saxophonist Jon Blanck

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Cover of Night Mode by the Verve Jazz Ensemble
Cover of Night Mode by the Verve Jazz Ensemble

When drummer Josh Feldstein joined forces with tenor saxophonist Jon Blanck to form the Verve Jazz Ensemble back in 2006, the band was a quartet. Over the intervening years that foursome expanded and morphed, eventually becoming a septet for several tracks on 2018’s Connect the Dots. The growth and change has only intensified since then, as this group’s sixth album showcases half a dozen configurations across 10 numbers.           

Opening with the title track, the first of several hard-bop happenings, the full force of the septet is on display. The ensemble deftly shifts from swing to Latin, putting a four-horn front line to good use and leaving space for strong and concise solos. Making the most of its assets and possibilities, this version of the group appears four more times—on Joe Morello’s jumping “Drumorello,” the spicy and funky “Per Your Request,” a fusion-dusted “Hypnosis,” and the Tommy Dorsey-associated “Opus One.”

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Dan Bilawsky

Dan Bilawsky has been involved in jazz journalism for 15 years. His work has appeared in JazzTimes, JAZZed, and All About Jazz, among other outlets. In addition, he’s penned liner notes for artists on Red, Capri, HighNote/Savant, Ropeadope, and other respected imprints. A band director with 20 years of teaching experience, he holds degrees in music from Indiana University, the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, and Five Towns College.