Aaron Koppel – electric guitar; Matt Nelson – piano; Graham Czach – bass; Robert Tucker – drums; Greg Ward – alto saxophone; Geof Bradfield – tenor saxophone.
Recorded 1/28 and 2/1/2009.
Produced and engineered by Nick Eipers.
#7 in Neil Tesser’s Top Ten Chicago Jazz Discs of 2009
#12 in JazzChicago.net’s Top Chicago Recordings of 2009
3 ½ Stars! (3=“Good”, 4=“Excellent”) – Downbeat Magazine
“Across 10 originals, the emphasis is on group interplay, with active basslines and lively arrangements… Among the standouts is pianist Nelson, who gets the nod more often than not… There are a fair number of introspective moments on ‘Falling Together Falling Apart’, thanks again to Nelson’s knack for getting off the beaten path, but there is the occasional up tune that suggests these guys might be used to people dancing at their shows. ‘Electric Cowgirl Boogaloo’ is just such a number, featuring some bouncy funk swing with saucy playing from Ward along with lots of spritely lines from Czach, his bass playing a driving if delicate force. In the end, what makes this disc enjoyable is the way the 26-year-old Koppel takes a conventional form (mainstream jazz) and makes something of it, breaking up the material, avoiding the tendency to just write blowing vehicles and, when his own guitar isn’t happening (e.g., ‘Falling Together’, ‘Our Tribe’), letting his sidemen take most of the spotlight.”
- John Ephland, Downbeat Magazine
“…his first opportunity to reach a larger audience. He didn’t disappoint… Koppel approached the recording in a way you d have hardly expected from most guitarists in their mid-20s. Instead of taking the biggest baddest solos on every tune, Koppel stepped back away from the spotlight to showcase his own terrific compositions, as well the admirable interplay and creativity of his high-end associates. Koppel s quartet features a spectacular young pianist named Matt Nelson, soon to record an album under his own name; he also brought in guest saxophonists Geof Bradfield and Greg Ward, two of the city s most engaging and exciting soloists. The result: an exceptionally mature album by a young guitarist you’ll surely hear more from in this and coming years.”
- Neil Tesser, Examiner.com
“…a veritable Who’s Who of Chicago’s young talent on the jazz scene. Featuring amazing saxophonists Greg Ward and Geof Bradfield, bassist Graham Czach and wunderkind pianist Matt Nelson, this is a band of heavyweights… the writing is varied, the arrangements are smart and the songs are clever… What makes Falling Together, Falling Apart so interesting is the fact that this really is a composer’s album. Unlike the vast number of discs that we’ve all heard that are made up of quick melodies meant to get to chord changes or to inspire finger-busting solos, this is an album of songs. Melodies are deliberate, and even the solo orders are shuffled around in order to serve the song first and foremost. That’s a sure mark of a mature leader, which Koppel proves himself to be… To put it simply and without hyperbole, Falling Together, Falling Apart is a fantastic album… This disc is easily recommended.”
- Paul Abella, Chicago Jazz Magazine
“On his quartet’s 2009 disc ‘Falling Together Falling Apart’, mainstream guitarist Aaron Koppel established himself as an inventive composer and surprisingly mature 20-something leader, unafraid to allot plenty of solo space to his sidemen. Inspired by the writing of Dave Hollad and Avishai Cohen, the Chicago-area native studied guitar with Bobby Broom, which probably helps account for his tasty melodicism.”
- Neil Tesser, Jazziz Magazine
“… an emotionally charged excursion through the realm of modern jazz… The ensemble… reflects the best and brightest of the highly creative Chicago modern jazz scene… a cohesive band, strong soloing, well-crafted compositions/arrangements and gripping guitar playing… Koppel delivers a masterful performance on ‘Falling Together Falling Apart’. He is at the top of his game as a soloist, his writing shows a depth and understanding of modern jazz harmony that is as exciting as it is engaging…”
- Matthew Warnock, AllAboutJazz.com
“…Koppel’s maturity and musical acumen are notable and his leadership commendable… Pianist Matt Nelson’s playing here is amazing… Koppel’s arrangements allow for strong accent to be placed on group interplay…”
- Veronica Timpanelli, JazzReview.com
“The writing is the start of guitarist Aaron Koppel's recording 'Falling Together Falling Apart'. Not that his playing, nor that of his superb sextet, isn't up to par. Rather, the 26-year-old Chicago jazz scene standout has composed sophisticated yet accessible tunes that don't rely on instrumental fireworks... Citing bassists Dave Holland and Avishai Cohen as his greatest compositional influences, Koppel weaves his melodic and rhythmic ideas in a similar fashion.”
- Jazziz Magazine
“Chicago Sessions has done it again, this time featuring a group of stellar up-and-coming young Chicago jazz artists led by guitarist Aaron Koppel. The line up is exceptional, with saxophonists Greg Ward (alto) and Geof Bradfield (tenor) making up a dream front line, and drummer Robert Tucker and bassist Graham Czach providing a solid rhythm section. I've been singing secret weapon pianist Matt Nelson's praises for years now, especially for his fine work with saxophonist Shawn Maxwell, and this recording will hopefully be a breakthrough to help bring this extremely talented young man to the attention of Chicago and the world… The saxes sparkle and write down the name: Matt Nelson is quite simply a star on the rise… Koppel's songwriting is impressive, mature yet fresh, versed in tradition, but new. And the band members construct these compositions with energy and care… explanations do not do justice to the music and you would be best served to pick up a copy.. Take the step to hear some of the best young players (and composer) the city has to offer, and let's hope we hear much more from Koppel and this praiseworthy bunch.”
- Brad Walseth, JazzChicago.net
“Tunes like 'The Big Tease' and the two title tracks have changes in mood and feel, keeping you interested after many listenings. Nelson has a wonderful touch on the ivories, and the sax work by Greg Ward and Geof Bradfield serves as flowing drapes to create a mood. One of the best new bands I've heard in a long time.”
- George W. Harris, JazzWeekly.com
“... a solid release... Koppel takes a relatively self-effacing tack here with most of the solo space going to Ward, Bradfield, and Nelson. When he does solo it's to good effect... Recommended.”
- David Kane, Cadence Magazine
“You may have heard small-group compositions as strong and flavorful as the ones on this album, but if you can’t remember exactly when, you should again not worry: it’s probably been a while… Koppel serves more as bandleader and composer/arranger, guiding his small yet versatile ensemble and letting his writing speak louder than his guitar… [Pianist Matt] Nelson’s suave command of his material matches up neatly with his fertile imagination and his knowledge of jazz history; Koppel gives him the majority of the solo space on this disc, and Nelson transforms it into his personal debutante’s ball, emerging as an impressive new voice well worth tracking. He kicks it off with a rangy concerto of a solo on the opening track and doesn’t flag, with a series of improvisations that illuminate (and at times deconstruct) the underlying compositions… All in all, Aaron Koppel and company – most of whom you’ve never heard of – have produced a lovely, lively collection marked by intelligent writing, emotional depth, and sterling musicianship.”
- Neil Tesser (from the liner notes)
The Aaron Koppel Quartet is a unique bop driven force that can only be described as what it is: another new exit off the highway of jazz. Founded by Aaron Koppel in 2002, the Aaron Koppel Quartet is made up of Chicago natives: guitarist Aaron Koppel, pianist Matt Nelson (Matthew Santos), Robert Tucker (Matthew Santos), and bassist Graham Czach (Chicago Afrobeat Project). Their debut album released in 2007 "The Wild Call of the Multitasker" received a lot of attention in Chicago, being featured on WXRT's Jazz Transfusion, Chicago's 93.1 FM, XM radio's Beyond Jazz, New Mexico's KSFR 101.1 FM Santa Fe Public Radio, WDCB 90.9 FM College of DuPage Public Radio, PBS 106.7 FM Melbourne, Australia, and several internet radio sites. With the addition of Geof Bradfield (tenor), Greg Ward (alto) and Johanna Mahmud (trombone) the Aaron Koppel Quartet received two nominations for the Toronto Exclusive Magazine Awards, Best International Jazz Group and Best International Jazz Song with Koppel's arrangement of Radiohead's "Myxomatosis (Judge, Jury, Executioner)."