by Jeff Becker
What do you get when you mix a fiery horn section with tasty piano lines and one of the tightest rhythm sections in the Northeast? The debut release from Foundations Records entitled, Foundations. Now, who am I referring to, Curt Ramm, Dan Moretti, Bill Cunliffe, Marty Richards and Marty Ballou.
All of these musicians have versatility from years on the bandstand performing with fellow master musicians, particularly (Moretti), Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, Mike Stern, Dave Liebman. Not bad, what about (Ramm), Elton John, Patti LaBelle, Bruce Springsteen and let us not forget (Cunliffe), Buddy Rich, Frank Sinatra, Freddie Hubband as well as winning the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Award, in addition to receiving a Grammy nomination in 2008, for “Best Instrumental Recording.” If you think all that looks good on paper, just wait until you hear them!
On Foundations, six of the pieces were co-written by Ramm and Cunliffe, while Moretti contributed the other five compositions. Each of the cuts are uniquely original in nature, and showcases the sheer technique, musicality and stellar writing this offering has within. However, for the purposes of our review, we are going to focus on one track in hopes you will get online and support the musicians by purchasing the CD, listening to it and then come back and put your comments here on our blog about your thoughts and emotions about Foundations. It is not just my lone opinion that counts; it is the power of the people’s collective thoughts and what we feel is consequential. So let me get you started and you take it from there.
For this review we will focus on the cut “Going Nowhere, Fast” a driving piece that cannot help but get your blood pumping, if you are not feeling motivated after hearing this cut, then you might need to have someone check your pulse! The horn lines are powerful and completely in sync with each other, it is evident that Ramm and Moretti have a powerful chemistry. Listen to the musical manner in which the horns play the counterpoint, each line is uniquely phrased, but blend together perfectly as Ramm sears in his upper register, while Moretti holds down the lower register complementing Ramm’s lines with supple support. The pulsing lines created by pianist Cunliffe and bassist Marty Ballou help frenzy the piece into cutting edge modern jazz. Drummer Marty Richards creates a solid focused foundation that stays within the pocket, but with just enough push to skillfully keep the band on edge, to give this piece the energy needed to keep the band driving to its limits.
Ramm’s solo is flawless and tonally what you would hope from a master trumpeter, with a crisp tone Ramm dips and soars into each note with ease. Saxophonist Moretti enters with dark moody tones that come across robust and round with muscular delivery. This is truly a team effort with all players skillfully playing their parts to create a commanding sound, a true “dream team” effort.