With his third CD, Bassist composer Howard Britz has come up with a recording that’s good for the soul and the intellect. In the tradition of Horace Silver he reasserts for 2007 the importance of the jazz composer in a small group context. Each of the eight original tunes is beautifully conceived and arranged as a whole experience and not just a head with a series of solos. The grooves range from Swing to New Orleans second line, Latin and Gospel with a touch of Weather Report with tight ensemble playing and sizzling solos by a group of New York’s finest.
JAZZ TIMES March 2008
HERE I STAND (Tee Zee) http://jazztimes.com/reviews/cd_reviews/
London-born bassist- composer Britz came to the States in 1991 on a a full scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He subsequently completed jazz studies at the New England Conservatory of Music before moving to Philadelphia in 1996, and then settled in Brooklyn in 1998. His latest release, a follow-up to his 2005 debut as a leader Made in Brooklyn, again finds him collaboration with some of the best and brightest on New York’s modern-jazz scene. This time out Britz is accompanied by the excellent pianist George Colligan, the well-established drummer Sylvia Cuenca and two lesser-known but equally accomplished talents, trumpeter David Smith and alto saxophonist Casey Benjamin. Together they tackle Britz’s original compositions like the gospel-tinged “Yakkology,” the dynamic 6/8 vehicle “Oceans” and the kinetic up-tempo boppish romp “New York Roast”-with requisite chops, flexibility and killer instincts.
The settle into Britz’s melancholy ode “Goodbye (for Dad)” with reverence and sensitivity, then delve in to an real-deal second line feel on “Lucky Friday the 13th” which morphs back and forth between N’awlins funk and New York swing. Along the way, the leader distinguishes himself as a first-rate swinger with considerable soloistic skills, which becomes especially apparent on the down-home medium groover “Brown & Sizzle,” Britz’s tribute to his bass idol, Ray Brown. The composer also explores more sharply intelligent, modernistic fare on the angular modal romp “Scatterbug” and the buoyant 7/4 vehicle “Martha’s Song” written for his wife.
CD Review: http://therunoffgroove.blogspot.com/2008/01/run-off-groove-185_09.html
Howard Britz's calls his music contemporary acoustic jazz, and at a time when some forms are jazz are watered down to the point of being a Fruit Stripe gum soda, this definitely means something. His statement, or I should say eight statements are made on Here I Stand (Tee Zee), and the declaration: jazz in its truest form while looking towards the music's future.
Britz plays the stand up bass, and like many of his contemporaries before him, he writes and arranges his music, as it should be. His knack for getting into the groove whenever possible, and by doing this being the focal point while allowing his musicians to live and breathe in the music, is a testament to what he is as a musician and artist. The music on here has the feel of jazz from the 50's and 60's, so those who may like their bebop and hard bop traditional will find all of that here. But within these tracks one is able to hear a few ECM influences and the occasional push into something soulful and funky, although it's not as upfront as one might thing. "Oceans", like its name, carries the listener on for a ride that goes from smoothed out to a bit of jazzy commotion, but with everyone on the boat (Sylvia Cuenca on drums, Casey Benjamin on alto sax, David Smith on trumpet and flugelhorn, and George Colligan on piano) navigating as a team, they assist/compliment each other quite well and make sure the song gets to its destination in one piece, without anyone jumping on a semi-secure showboat.
While everyone is on equal terms here, Britz allows himself to shine on his own with the opening bass riff of "Martha's Song", in honor of his wife. Taken in 7/4, Britz sets the listener up for the dynamics that are to come, and throughout the song one can tell Britz is aware of being the anchor, while making sure everyone joins in to bring the album home. The horn section of Benjamin and Smith sound as sharp and polished as any good horn section should, and Colligan's piano work has the kind of style that sounds too good to be true, or as people might say in Hawai'i, "da bugga is mean!" Britz and Cuenca are a team not to be messed with, their union is tight and there are moments where it feels like they are two sides of the same musical brain, quite remarkable. Here I Stand is an outstanding album, and Britz is one of many jazz musicians today who are continuting to break down the time barriers, which is another way of saying that with jazz, there should be no limits.
(Here I Stand will be released nationally on March 1st, but can be purchased through CDBaby.)
CD Review: IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION
here's what I've got written up for issue #80 for "HERE I STAND" from Howard Britz:
Howard Britz - HERE I STAND: It was interesting to me that I first spotted Howard's fantastic bass playing on one of my favorite "home artist" sites, www.indieonestop.com/jamroom then 2 days later received it from promoter Jim Eigo www.jazzpromoservices.com . Jim only promotes those artists that are high quality ripe with talent. Well, after listening through the first 2 tracks, it was abundantly clear that Mr. Britz is at the top of the jazz heap. All original compositions lend to the atmosphere of high energy, as Howard's double bass is joined by drums from Sylvia Cuenca, David Smith's trumpet flugelhorn, alto sax from Casey Benjamin piano from George Colligan. My favorite track on the album is cut #7, "Scatterbug" - can't quite put my finger on it, but it somehow takes me back to my earliest listens to jazz in the dark jazz cellars in Germany - I'm pretty sure it's Smith's horn work that makes it feel that way - totally tight tune with heavy energy that involves!
the listener from the opening bar. This is one of the best albums I've heard in 2008, I give it my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating. Get more information at www.howardbritz.com Rotcod Zzaj AKA Dick Metcalf