“A transcendent work of art.” – Bobby Reed, DownBeat Magazine: Editor's Picks
“Broder employs a past-via-the-present compositional technique with ingenuity and skill, producing music of genuine warmth and majesty... An engaging and nuanced artistic vision.” – Brian Zimmerman, Jazziz: Song of the Day
"An album that enchants and surprises in equal measure.” ★★★★ – Peter Quinn, The Art Desk
“Owen Broder has hit the musical jackpot... Deeply comforting Americana roots blend.” – Jeff Krow, Audiophile Audition
“This music serves as a reminder that we are truly a nation of immigrants, that artists and musicians are inspired by the various cultures encountered in their daily and working life, and that imagination and improvisation can help open eyes to new possibilities.” – Richard B. Kamins, Step Tempest
“A wonderful find and strikingly original.” – Lynn René Bayley, The Art Music Lounge
“This album is a beam of sunlight.” – Dave Sumner, Bird is the Worm
“A stunning new vision.” – Jazz In Europe
Jazz Wise Magazine
“Highly enjoyable as well as impressive.”
A highly unusual debut album for reedsman Broder, aiming to create a jazz setting for the kind of folk influence usually described as Americana. Much of the material is original, with one tune each borrowed from Hank Williams and Gillian Welch, but the use of fiddle alongside the horns (and the welcome absence of guitar) puts everything in a decidedly jazz context. The leader is more than competent on a variety of reeds, and has surrounded himself with a superb team of NYC soloists (and that rhythm-section!), but the emphasis is on the writing. Broder himself contributes two scores, along with fellow youngsters Horne and Hazama, but the involvement of 69-year-old McNeely and 90 year-old Holman, with one chart each, is a pleasant surprise. Ryan Truesdell (known for his Gil Evans Project) seems to have been the driving force, as well as creating the album’s centerpiece, a doomy and spacey arrangement of ‘Wayfaring Stanger’ that makes prominent use of the vocal trio as well as the album’s only brief echoes of Gil. One or two moments here tend towards the twee but, overall, this is highly enjoyable as well as impressive.
“Broder [examines] various sonic styles to emerge over the country’s history through a jazz lens – and the results are bracing.”
Even before fiddler Vassar Clements birthed “hillbilly jazz” more than four decades ago, adventurous musicians understood that the roots of American music are gloriously intertwined. Heritage: The American Roots Project continues this proud tradition of ignoring arbitrary genre boundaries, with saxophonist/composer Owen Broder and his crew examining the various sonic styles to emerge over the country’s history through a jazz lens — and the results are bracing.
Variety is central to the recording’s concept, with Broder compositions providing the bookends. The opening track, “Goin’ Up Home,” begins with stately folk violin lines from Sara Caswell before evolving into a modified big-band tune roomy enough to accommodate a vibraphone solo by James Shipp (who also handles percussion duties) and a beguiling brass arrangement for Broder, trumpeter Scott Wendholt and trombonist Nick Finzer. In contrast, the concluding “A Wiser Man Than Me” is a deliberately paced wind-down that finds pianist Frank Kimbrough, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Matt Wilson providing a steady base for solos by Broder and company that evoke wide-open spaces.
In between these tunes, Broder empowers collaborators to share their own visions. Tokyo-born pianist Miho Hazama pulls from Appalachian melodies on “Wherever the Road Leads” and finds unexpected improvisational opportunities in singer-songwriter Gillian Welch’s “I’m Not Afraid to Die.” Trumpeter/composer Alphonso Horne accentuates the African in the African-American folk tale “The People Could Fly.” Composer/arranger Bill Holman conjures up a swinging version of Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya.” Pianist Jim McNeely provides an exuberant “Cripple Creek.” And Gil Evans Project founder Ryan Truesdell conceives the gleeful stomp of “Brodeo” and a majestic “Wayfaring Stranger,” highlighted by the gorgeous vocal harmonies of Wendy Giles, Kate McGarry and Vuyo Sotashe.
This many different styles shouldn’t fit together so well on a single album, but they absolutely do. Only in America.
O’s Place Jazz Newsletter
D. Oscar Groomes
“This is one of the more successful attempts at combining music forms.”
New York based saxophonist Owen Broder's latest project Heritage is billed as an American Roots Project. The music is soothing and well recorded featuring several standout performances by James Shipp (vibes), Frank Kimbrough (piano) and Sara Caswell (violin). Broder successfully marries folk, blues, and spirituals with jazz in a way that will please most fans in these genres. We also enjoyed the vocal selection "Wayfaring Stranger" featuring Kate McGarry and Wendy Gilles with Vuyo Sotashe. This is one of the more successful attempts at combining music forms.
“Highly inspiring jazz through these exciting developments in root music.”
On this album, Owen Broder lets modern jazz meet different types of folk music, which is the roots of American music, or at least reflects the history of the United States.
Here are music with the roots of folk music from the Appalachians, bluegrass, early blues and spirituals. New songs from six different songwriters and with a proper scoop of modern jazz make it never become a nostalgic disc, rather an inclusion of traditional parts that become a vitamin injection and provide an exciting variation. Owen Broder himself plays saxophones of different sizes. A great ensemble with violin, trumpet, trombone, vibraphone, piano, bass and drums plus three singers gives the organizers great sound and rhythmic possibilities. Something that is well taken care of, through highly inspiring jazz through these exciting developments in root music. Obviously, the musicians had fun during the recording - game pleasure and experience celebrate constant triumphs.
Owen Broder’s Heritage (Artists Share) is another unexpected joy, with jazz, or at least jazz versions of American folk classics such as Cripple Creek, and Wayfaring Stranger, the latter exquisitely (and somberly) sung by Kate McGarry. This was arranged by Ryan Truesdell, whose Gil Evans projects I have praised in these pages. He complicates the previously simple harmonies and leaves space for an eerily suggestive solo violin. I was equally surprised to see that big band veteran Bill Holman arranged the Cajun classic Jambalaya for Broder. Its out-of-tempo introduction is almost deceitful.