Description of Muse:
One of two new releases kicking off Creative Nation Music’s 5th anniversary year, The Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra’s Muse is the follow-up to the longstanding 17-piece ensemble’s self-released 2006 debut, Clairvoyance, which also featured special guest George Garzone as well as Ms. Inserto’s teacher and mentor, Bob Brookmeyer.
On this latest release, built around the theme of celebrating those who inspired her, Ms. Inserto pays homage to influences ranging from her family, friends and bandmates to former teachers (Brookmeyer, Dave Eshelman and John Maltester) to eminent jazz musicians (Michael Brecker, Frank Foster and Steve Lacy).
“Her genius is that while her music is harmonically sophisticated, there is a sweet, flowing energy that makes it accessible and enjoyable for any palette,” writes Garzone in the liner notes. “You can feel the personal touch in each piece ranging in emotions from remembrance to merriment, and hear the gratitude she has to each influence in her life.”
Review of Muse
Review by Michael G. Nastos, www.allmusic.com
Ayn Inserto's second recording with her jazz orchestra is grand and sophisticated to a degree as to immediately elevate her status alongside acknowledged influences, and well known, experienced chart makers like Maria Schneider, Bob Belden, and Mark Masters. This Boston based big band plays Inserto's original music, tempered to strict tolerances, read and interpreted precisely and joyously. Main soloist George Garzone is also a powerful figure in the way the music is shaped, but it is his distinct post-John Coltrane tone that establishes a high inspirational standard for all members of the band to follow. Inserto directs and conducts her charges through eight original pieces individually dedicated to her teachers and influences, which include Dave Eshelman, Bob Brookmeyer, Frank Foster, Steve Lacy, Michael Brecker, personal friends, family, and bandmembers. This is complex music, clearly well rehearsed, compelling and commanding for any astute listener, and firmly placed in the modern mainstream neo-bop contemporary continuum. Boston saxophonists like Rick Stone, Brian Landrus, Kelly Roberge, Sean Berry, and especially Allan Chase work in tandem with Garzone, while lead trumpeter Jeff Claassen fronts the brass section. A new star to discover is pianist Carmen Staaf, a wonderfully melodic and inventive keyboardist who fills nooks and crannies, and sets the pacing, color palate, and tone for the band nearly as much as Garzone. "Eshel Sketch" kicks off the set with an exuberance indicative of the entire date, a bouncy, happy, childlike piece based on Staaf's dainty, stated figures being cleverly traced by the horns. Stairstep bright lighting flicked repeatedly on and off identifies "A Little Brook," the depth of the composition shaded by a far reaching horizon that mirrors Brookmeyer's modern visage of color balance with little accents of splashed starbursts framed in an easy swing. "Vinifera" pays tribute to Foster — it is a piece commissioned by ASCAP and the now defunct International Association of Jazz Educators — as spiked tips of melody followed by quick counterpoint presents the most intricate construct, far from simple harmonics or dynamics, but lean and mean. Garzone's soprano on "Laced with Love" does not so much assimilate Steve Lacy, but urges the horn section in a mounting, lingering, and slow refrain that he punctuates in characteristic sharp tones, providing a lovely eulogy. Of course Garzone's tenor during "To Michael Brecker," as you would expect, takes into account the free floating no time concept of Coltrane married to Brecker's inexhaustive lyrical mindset. "Snowplace Like Home" (love the title) has Chase and Garzone hopping about on a jumpy repeat theme where their dual soprano saxes push the envelope harmonically, and the closer "Simple" is a basic melody reminiscent of Count Basie, short and sweet, with the exception of a purposefully sour note at the end of the pretty phrase. Inserto is impressive as a writer of modern jazz, her band is more than up to the task, and there's a real feeling of camaraderie cementing the band as a true working mule team. Especially if you are not familiar with her name and sound, keep Ayn Inserto's Muse in serious consideration for a distinguished place in your collection. It is an excellent representation of what's happening in her virile, imaginative mind, and comes highly recommended.
Ayn Inserto is a groundbreaking composer who is emerging as one of the preeminent voices of her generation. She received her Masters of Music degree in Jazz Composition from the New England Conservatory in May 2001. She is a winner of the 2007 IAJE/ASCAP Emerging Composer Commission honoring Frank Foster, the 2003/04 and 2005/06 ASCAP Young Jazz Composers' Awards and has received various honors which include the Concord Pavilion Associates Marian McPartland Award, the Pacific Coast Jazz Festival Most Outstanding small jazz ensemble, and the 1999 Best Original Composition award at the Billy Higgins Jazz Festival. She currently studies jazz composition with Bob Brookmeyer as his protege.
Her music has been performed at the Berklee Performance Center, 1999 and 2008 IAJE Conferences, California State University of Hayward Jazz Festivals, Reno Jazz Festival, Billy Higgins Jazz Festival, New England Conservatory of Music, Montreux Jazz Festival , the Umbria Jazz Festival, the Zeitgesit Gallery/Lily Pad, McGill University, Jazz at Lincoln Center Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, 2008 Terni Jazz Festival, La Pietra in Florence, Italy, and the 2008 Sant’Elpidio Jazz Festival in Porto San Giorgio, Italy.
Ayn has been commissioned by ASCAP/IAJE, Cal State University East Bay, Los Medanos College, Foxboro High School, Harvard Jazz Band, Marin Catholic High School and Fairfield High School, and by George Garzone to arrange his music featuring him as a soloist with jazz orchestra. In March 2008, she was invited as a guest artist by the Colours Jazz Orchestra led by Massimo Morganti to give a 3-day seminar on composition and arranging, and to conduct the jazz orchestra in a concert of her music.
She currently resides in Boston, is an assistant professor at Berklee College of Music and teaches privately in Massachusetts. She has also taught at New England Conservatory and Longy School of Music. She released her first album, Clairvoyance, featuring Bob Brookmeyer and George Garzone in 2006.
Ayn Inserto (director, composer and conductor),
George Garzone(soprano and tenor saxophones),
Allan Chase (soprano and alto saxophones), Rick Stone (alto saxophone, clarinet and flute), Kelly Roberge (tenor saxophone and clarinet), Sean Berry (tenor saxophone and clarinet), Brian Landrus (soprano and baritone saxophones),
Jeff Claassen (lead trumpet), John Replogle (trumpet), Will Caviness (trumpet), Matthew Small (trumpet),
Chris Gagne (trombone), David Hickok (trombone), Tim Lienhard (trombone), Jennifer Wharton (bass trombone),
Mark Cocheo (guitar), Carmen Staaf (piano), Kendall Eddy (bass) and Austin McMahon (drums)