Katahdin's Edge | Step Away

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Jazz: Traditional Jazz Combo Jazz: Jazz-Rock Moods: Type: Improvisational
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Step Away

by Katahdin's Edge

"These guys are badder than the Bad Plus" - Ed Harvilla (fan) This new take on a traditional jazz trio blends jazz-rock-middle eastern sounds together.
Genre: Jazz: Traditional Jazz Combo
Release Date: 

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1. Step Away
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5:29 $0.99
2. Enigma
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5:57 $0.99
3. Wagons of the Night
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7:09 $0.99
4. Full Circle
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8:53 $0.99
5. Zargonic Effect
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6:30 $0.99
6. Traveler in the Dark
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10:37 $0.99
7. Soulmates
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6:51 $0.99
8. Zoeie
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Katahdin's Edge
brings tension and drama
to jazz landscape

Willie Myette, John Funkhouser, and Mike Connors have the kind of pedigree that would lend itself to astonishing and unexpected results. Their debut together as Katahdin's Edge is exactly what you'd expect from three adventurous performers, and nothing like you've heard before.

Step Away, the band's inaugural CD brings profound drama and depth to what is normally a very predictable jazz format: the trio. Myette, the group's voice on piano, proved he had a flair for melody and arranging on ...this is jazz, his bow as a bandleader. Funkhouser, whose name couldn't be more appropriate for a bass player, also leads his own band and has toured throughout the U.S., Asia, and France. Drummer Mike Connors has studied with the likes of Joe Hunt and Alan Dawson, as well as with neo-lounge experimentalists Combustible Edison.

Both Myette and Funkhouser have extended educations in jazz, with Myette attending the Berklee College of Music and Funkouser the New England Conservatory. Myette launched the successful JazzKids program, a fully developed instructional jazz piano program for children. Funkhouser also headed the Jazz Studies Department at Manhattanville College. He currently teaches at Berklee. The band clearly knows its music, and on Step Away it really shows.

It doesn't take long for the drama to kick. The title cut, begins with an almost acid-jazz rhythm track running under everything like white water, while Myette swims atop it with his fleet and beautiful piano hooks. The piece demands the listener's attention, and keeps it for the entire disc, though cinematic tunes like "Engima" and the Guaraldi-esque "Zargonic Effect." Throughout the album, the performances such as these often extend beyond the commonplace and into the sublime.

Myette is a clean, athletic, occasionally dark pianist who learned his craft in part from pianist/icon Fred Hersch. Connors is a muscular drummer who knows how to push the boundaries of tradition and when to abide by them. Funkhouser is, like his name, funky and nimble fingered on bass, with plenty of room to roam in these exciting arrangements without losing his support of the trio's often breathless tempos.

It wouldn't be a stretch to call Katahdin's Edge's Step Away a work that is, well, a "step away" from something truly remarkable, even brilliant. As it stands, it is no less than a bold, virtuosic artistic statement and an exhilarating ride through some of the year's most dramatic jazz.

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Berklee College of Music graduate, and pianist, Willie Myette leads Katahdin's Edge. This is Myette's second album as leader. His first CD, entitled "...this is jazz" received excellent reviews and airplay throughout the country. While perfecting his musical craft, he has launched JazzKids (http://www.jazzkids.com), a fully developed instructional jazz piano program that has brought jazz performers as young as 6 years old to the stage and surprised and delighted crowds of unsuspecting listeners. Myette has toured both the U.S. and abroad as performer and clinician.

Bassist, John Funkhouser, received a graduate degree in Performance and Composition from The New England Conservatory of Music. Also the leader of his own band called FunkHouse, he has toured the U.S., Asia, and France. He was the past head of Jazz Studies at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and Concordia College in Bronxville, NY. He taught at The Brimmer and May School in Newton, MA and currently teaches at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.

Drummer, Mike Connors has studied drumming at Berklee College of Music with jazz greats Joe Hunt and Alan Dawson. Connors has toured the U.S. and Europe with the avant-garde pop group Combustible Edison whom he has also recorded several times with. He has performed music both for film and television and can be heard on the film Four Rooms and commercials for Microsoft.

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Step Away spices up the piano trio format with shifting time signatures, quirky melodies, some solid rock beats, bits of funk grooves, and brooding interludes juxtaposed with bright rhythms. And you'll hear the occasional Balkan tinge in there, too, along with some subtle "mysterious" and "unearthly sounds," by a pianist who favors the darker tones a good deal of the time, even when the bass and drums have a bounce in their step.


Pianist Willie Myette wrote all the songs here, creating a sound that feels very spontaneous. A student of Fred Hersch, his approach is similar to his teacher's style-thoughtful, sometimes foreboding ("Full Circle"), with a good deal of mixed meter grooves laid down. There is also here a sense of adventure. While Step Away could be called mainstream, the melodies are never predictable-you don't come away from the experience whistling them, and band energies and moods tend to ebb and flow within a single tune.


A consistently interesting set of sounds, the song "Wagons of the Night," inspired by Myette's visit to the catacombs in Paris, is a particular highlight, a somber mood on piano in front of the rise and fall of the bass/drum tempo. "Zoeie" opens jauntily, a bouncing bass/drum unit behind the sharply percussive piano melody built around a repeated phrase, with a subtle wind-like sound (studio tweakings) blowing cool in the background.


The group makes spare use of studio textures, leaving the mood feeling mainstream; but they use those "mysterious sounds" so well that more of them would have been welcome here.


Step Away proves itself a successful and attention-grabbing debut for Katahdin's Edge.


Visit Katahdin's Edge online at www.katahdinsedge.com.

~ Dan McClenaghan


Reviews


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Thomas Hauk

Solid Post-Bop Album
These wonderful originals by Willie Myette remind me of E.S.T. with an Eastern European edge. Mostly uptempo music except for Traveler in the Dark, which is a little slow for my tastes. Can't wait to hear their next album -- or see them live!

Nathan Black

Breathtaking
Katahdin's Edge is a wonderful group. Step Away is a perfect mix of upbeat and melancholy that always maintains an energy that keeps your attention riveted. The piano's harmonies are infectious, the bass's plucks are poignant, and the drums's rhythms are exquisite. This trio knows what it's doing, and you can hear it in each and every piece. My two favorite tracks are 4 and 5, due in no small part to the amazing transition that takes place between the two. On my first listen, I had not even noticed that the track had changed! Complex enough to educate the connoisseur, but down to earth enough to entertain the layman. A must have for any jazz fan.

bob thibeault


I love it - it grabs my attention intellectually as well as sonically. Willie, keep up the good work!

Gerret Meyer

Great CD
started with liking Willie Myette debut album - "...this is jazz " and it was. It made me look for more and I found "The Ridge" and "Step Away". I am not sure which one I like better, but both put me in a good mood. They are a great take on the jazz trio and I can clearly hear each instrument making it's contribution - my only regret is that I can not find any additional material by either Willie Myette and or / Katahdin's Edge. I'll keep on looking though - enjoying the existing music ...

Edward Harvilla

Badder than The Bad Plus
This piano, acoustic bass, and drum trio performs original and innovative compositions that literally evoke a sense of "awe." These guys from Katahdin's Edge are "Badder" that "The Bad Plus," producing comparable music with a similar groove but with richer melodic and harmonic tones wrapped in deeper and more complex jazz rhythm. The musicians are highly skilled improvisational experts who play together tightly to produce music that moves the foot, heart and soul. This band is honestly the finest jazz trio, performing original, straight ahead jazz compositions that I have ever heard in my decade of listening to trios of the past and present.

Phil Merrifield

A Step Further. A Step Above
Although there is enough traditional, straightforward jazz on this cd to satisfy "old school" jazz trio enthusiasts, Katahdin's Edge takes it a step further. Adding creative overtones to an already pure jazz trio sound is what Step Away is all about.

Myette (piano), Funkhouser (bass), and Connors (drums) are all speaking the same language here. Unexpected twists are fully present in their music; however, each and every time the group strays from the norm... they all do it with precision and class. In fact, what is truly amazing on this recording is how all three musicians remain "on the same page" whenever they break from convention. Every time Myette appears to go "freestyle" with his piano, the bass and drums are fully engaged, anticipating and accompanying his every move. A very spontaneous, yet controlled mood.

Step Away is a step above what you'd expect when confronted with the idea of a jazz piano trio "pushing the boundaries" of traditional jazz.

The musicians from Katahdin's Edge clearly know what they're doing. An outstanding debut album.

Oliver Walter

Katahdin's Edge has got it together!
Watching them at Ella's Supper Club in Spokane was an incredible experience. Their musical interpretation and immense energy mesh together creating a truly unique sound. This band deserves more recognition.

Jon Lennard

Tight and cool
A very tight and integrated sound that is still drenched in emotion. Reminds me of some of Corea's best acoustic works. The more you listen to it, the more you get drawn into the rhythmic interweaving of the instruments. Truly a great effort.

Providence Pheonix

Katahdin’s Edge. Step Away, the group’s debut, is mainstream jazz that flaunts i
Piano trios are one of jazz’s bedrock instrumental configurations, and there are so many of ’em in action that it takes some true talent to make a dent. That means pianist Willie Myette, bassist John Funkhouser, and drummer Mike Connors have really built something impressive with their new ensemble, Katahdin’s Edge. Step Away, the group’s debut, is mainstream jazz that flaunts its sense of daring — it does make a dent, it does turn your head. A dedication to interaction drives the program; the guys connect at every rhythmic juncture, fully understanding the ways to have tension and release work in their favor.

Tamara Turner, CD Baby


Make way for this highly innovative jazz trio with exceptional substance and incredible musicality. Proving the fear wrong that dabbling in other genres dilutes the purity of the focus, Katahdin's Edge sneaks and slides in tastes from middle eastern scales, to classical-tinged, expansive phrasing to a fervent groove that bumpity bumps along after the free-spirited melodies. From there, they turn the corner into darker and more introspective pockets of reflective, inward-turned pieces, delving into the seeds of harmony, flourishing with rushes of untamed emotion and human conviction. No doubt, this album is a must for the modern jazz seeker.