Traditional and contemporary jazz form the base from which saxophonist and composer Andrew Van Tassel builds his sound. He also leans on classical, indie-rock and folk music. Listeners hear more of the contemporary side on Itís Where You Are (Tone Rogue Records, 2016).

Van Tassel plays alto and soprano saxophones. He is accompanied by Julian Shore, piano and Rhodes; Edward Perez, bass; and Colin Stranahan, drums. Special guests on selected tracks are guitarist Ben Eunson and Michael Thomas, who plays clarinet and bass clarinet.

The set begins with ďHigh Holborn,Ē an upbeat, electric tune with guitar and alto sax melding for the lead. Bass and drum kit carry a trotting beat, while the piano offers placid fills. Van Tassel then stretches out, taking off on a free-spirited jaunt. Eunson then comes in, deftly picking those strings in a series of single-note riffs, some of them in complex, rapid-fire strings. The mood and pace slow when Van Tassel rejoins. The alto leads while the guitar offers some haunting, ethereal fills as the song comes to a close.

ďOn the UpĒ may be a hybrid of traditional and contemporary, as itís plenty of both but all of neither. This lively, engaging tune again features the alto as lead instrument, with Eunson joining the ensemble. The sax is much like a throwback to the stylings of luminaries like Coltrane, Parker and others of a bygone era. Van Tassel shows off more of his improvisational side. Eunson steps out front, injecting a modern-day feel, a la Benson, Ritenour or Carlton.

The title song is a moderate ballad that opens with Shore setting the mood on piano. Van Tassel plays the soprano on its low end, maintaining a sense of quietude. Then, as the emotions pick up intensity, he takes the instrument higher. Perez and Stranahan are subtle but effective as they underscore the lead.

Van Tassel resides in New York City, where he performs as a sideman and a leader of his own band. In addition to local activity, he enjoys collaborations on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States, contributing as a soloist and improviser. Educational experiences include the Manhattan School of Music, the University of North Carolina and the New England Conservatory.

Van Tassel composed all but one track on Itís Where You Are. In the liner, he explains that he hoped this project would take the audience to places both familiar and in need of exploration. He says itís a special moment when an artist gets to record his own songs, ďand the only reason that Iíve been able to do so is thanks to the friends and family who have brought me here.Ē
 




www.andrewvantasselmusic.com