'Best artist produced release of 2001'
- Lazaro Vega, WBLU, Blue Lake Public Radio, Twin Lake, MI.
'Among the best of the recent big band releases on Compact Disc'
- Jack Bowers, All About Jazz.
'The orchestra is very sharp. The solos and section work are first-rate, and his tunes will quickly grab you. Raheb's writing is eclectic and exotic. This is an exciting and almost too intense experience.'
- Dave Marcus, Audiophile Voice Magazine www.audiophilevoice.com
'One of the most gifted jazz composers living today.'
- Sue Terry, Saxophonist, composer, www.sueterry.net
'Have no doubt that this ferocious advance into cutting edge terrain; advancing the confluence of jazz and classical music, is impressive in its energy, confidence and uncompromising belief in its cause. This is a spectacularly recorded set."
- John Killoch, MainlyBigBands www.btinternet.com/~j.r.killoch/raheb.htm
Jazz Improv Magazine
TOPAZ UNDER MOON-Topaz Records
By Gregory J. Robb 4/2005, vol 5 number 3
'Topaz Under Moon demands much and, in doing so, achieves much. Jeff Raheb's writing, David Liebman's solo features, and the band's interplay in between, all require a highly committed immersion by listeners. Frankly, this record makes easy listening impossible exactly the point that many like-minded jazz players cherish about this form of musical pursuit. If you are so inclined, you will be tremendously satiated by Topaz Under iVfoon. If ynu are nnt, the record serves as notice of how musical intelligence plays itself out.
The suite of sounds that opens this record tell us many things: Jeff Raheb's music is strictly arranged; musical theme is melodically rooted in highly intelligent engagement (this is musician's music); recording is as precise as the players' execution. Diana Herold's sojourn highlights deliberate note selection unhurried by intensity, yet it is still compelling.
Elements that are often considered "given" to such musicians should continue to please us as indicators of their greater discipline within jazz. When so many instruments are involved, group dynamics shine. Musicians are so wired in to what the others are playing, that the collective feeds very much off the contributions of the individuals. It happens throughout Topaz Under Moon.
Then, there is Dave Liebman. The master of jazz engagement continues his dogmatic improvisational journey in fine style. On "Tegea," Liebman splits notes open and cuts around the edges of convention to make any horn he blows into a weapon for the defense of musical free speech. That is his personae throughout this chronicle.
"Tegea" is an arranger's clinic in overlapped and inverted structures by anagram. Jazz purists will enjoy the codes within, while more fundamentally accomplished ears will decipher multiple layers of sound that cohere in unorthodox order.
Liebman moves so quickly over so many notes in such short order, in "Anama," that one fears that only the jazz literati may be able to grasp it. The resulting group combustion marks the halfway point and from there we move into a chapter of aural recession to band ensemble. Harmonic discord (highly intentional) leads Sarah Cion to explore aural bandwidth: straight arpeggio, chords and harmonic placements. By song's end, however, we are left with the same feeling that no thought, however integral, is safe
for long; the mandate of this record drives resonance away before it can occur.
The title track distinguishes Jeff Raheb's arrangement for big band. "Topaz Under Moon" does not swing like big band often does. Instead, irregular harmonics create a mood of cartoonish wonder, a welcome tonic to the ferocity of previous tracks.
Sectional question and answer makes great writing and great playing imperative at the beginning of "Red Hat," an exercise for trombone players Chris Washburne, Jason Forsythe and Steve Swell. This song's bridge is reminiscent of Bill Watrous's indulgences (except that Watrous often played three parts in one!). "Red Hat" displays a unity of ensemble and improvisation that speaks to Jeff Raheb's excellent skills of arrangement.
"Srinagar" is less aggressively arranged. Here, the music is allowed to resonate a bit before ensemble drives us forward. Rhythm is nicely diversified in the forms of sticks played on the drum's periphery as well as simple clapping, and percussion. The effects nicely diversify the piece for a more global feel. Soaring solos contrast with a relative degree of introspection in part of the song.
Scott Newman must be singularly commended for surviving as the lone contributing drummer. Throughout Topaz Under Moon, Newman rises in fury and swells in retreat to the multitudinous demands of his band mates. Almost every other instrument on the album is shared by
more than one player. One imagines Newman slumped in a couch at the end of it all, eyes glazed over and mind numb to the scorching creations he had just navigated.
Many jazz lovers with less accomplished ears risk feeling the same way.
Highly literate jazz often opens the mind and, in this sense, Topaz Under Moon is highly successful. It an improviser's album, period. Its emphasis may be its limitation, but since when did musical ambition become a point of contention?'
The Jeff Raheb Jazz Orchestra performs cutting-edge large ensemble music, where the traditional boundaries of jazz big band music are extended and explored. The group includes many stellar figures from the Brooklyn jazz community and beyond, such as Dave Liebman, Oliver Lake, Ron Horton, Ron McClure, Dean Johnson, Adam Kolker, Andy Laster, Jeff Lederer, Herb Robertson, Ron Vincent and James Zollar.
Topaz Under Moon (featuring Dave Liebman), is the first release of the Jeff Raheb Contemporary Jazz Orchestra. The music is passionate, energetic, original and highly crafted.
"From out of nowhere, unheard of, unheralded and in the midst of Brooklyn (my home town!!); great and unusually uniform writing by Raheb; everything sounds of the same cloth but with variations - a lot of unity and substance. Not for the faint hearted!!" - Dave Liebman
"Great! the band sounds wonderful and the writing is also great." - Oliver Lake
Brooklyn Courier - 1/172005
Brazilian Beats Meet Big Band Brass
One Man, Two Bands, And a Whole Lotta Music
By Michêle De Meglio
Raheb explores his love of Big Band music - and traveling - on "Topaz Under Moon," his latest album with the Contemporary Jazz Orchestra.
Many of the pieces on the record are inspired by Raheb's journeys around the world.
"I've been to 35-40 countries - Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, Europe, Turkey and Greece," he said. "I always write music when I come back from my trips. This year I went to Cambodia, Thailand, and the Philippines. I just came back from Italy."
Raheb composed "Srinagar" after visiting India.
With a pack of trumpeters leading the way, the song is "a musical portrait of the serenity and violence that has marked the beautiful capital of Kashmir in northern India. I stayed on a house boat surrounded by soldiers and the Himalayas," he explained.
A trip that Raheb may wish to forget became the inspiration for the dramatic "Leishmanian Devil." The "devil" in question is "a flesh-eating parasite I contracted in the Amazon. Swimming with pink dolphins had its price. Completed in a hospital, the intro, the march and [the] increasingly tonal fugal finale [of the song], mimic my sickness, treatment and recovery," he noted. "I played it for my doctor," he mused.
Jeff Raheb was born in Brooklyn, New York. He is an eclectic artist whose work fuses a variety of elements from jazz, Brazilian, Middle Eastern and contemporary musical styles in pursuit of a new musical language. Mr. Raheb has written nearly 200 works for small and large ensembles. His music has been performed in the U.S., Europe and Australia. He has been a featured composer on WBGO, WBAI, WKCR, WNYC and WBVD radio in New York. Recipient of the prestigious NY Foundation for the Arts 2002 Fellowship Grant and finalist on the 2001 Julius Hemphill Jazz Orchestra Composition competition. Mr. Raheb is a member of the BMI Jazz Composers Orchestra workshop.