The Jewel

Out 12/17/21 on Ropedope Records
Liner notes by Kevin Lynch

There are a thousand stories in the naked city. Yeah, New York. A fast-maturing musician from the heartland braves the forbidding shadows of Manhattan skyscrapers, showing up at a small Upper West Side hangout, The Dead Poet, which also books live music. The Big Apple competition is fierce, so it’s their loss for those music fans who missed this, a deep draft of Wisconsin jazz brew.

Highly-accomplished Wisconsin-based trumpeter Jamie Breiwick is also a gifted graphic designer, which actually opened the door to this live recording. A few years back, he designed the cover for drummer-composer Matt Wilson’s Carl Sandburg-inspired Palmetto album Honey and Salt. Wilson had played with Breiwick before, so when the call came for this recorded gig, the celebrated New York jazz veteran gladly complied. However, The Dead Poet is a cozy space, so Wilson brought along no more than his snare drum and ride cymbal. That was plenty, with his resourcefulness and talent, and the gifts of Breiwick and bassist John Tate.

The album ranges impressively across the modern jazz spectrum of composers, but it opens with Breiwick’s title tune, a finely burnished contemplation of a jewel of radiant yet shadowed significance. A stone earth-borne as a field holler yet multi-faceted, able to dazzle, perhaps the jazz tradition itself symbolized? Jamie’s solo heats up with shades of probing textures while still honoring the inspiring talisman. He follows with a jaunty take on Ornette Coleman’s, “Dee Dee,” which shows his mastery of an outre repertoire, as he’s done in full concerts of Coleman music.

Pharaoh Sanders’ “Greetings to Idris” is an unearthed gem raised to the light of day by Breiwick and company. Next up is Carla Bley’s “Lawns,” a warm, reflective tune that feels like rolling-in-the-grass pastoral reverie. Guest saxophonist Adam Larson solos with a gruff Rollins-like amiability. Wilson dances on his mini-kit a la Ed Blackwell, and finally a supple counterpoint between the horns. From easy, down-home earthiness we blast into the stratosphere with Sun Ra’s majestically searching “Love in Outer Space.”

Breiwick returns home with a tune by a former Wisconsin resident, pianist Buddy Montgomery. “Ties of Love” engages romance with entwining purpose and assurance. The deft swing boosts an open-armed rhythmic dance over a circling, modern motion. Monk is another “home base” for Breiwick, so “Off-Minor” closes, with all the cockeyed savvy that’s become its own art form.

The Jewel epitomizes the empowering geniality of an artist of uncommon intellectual curiosity and courage, fearlessly forging from naked city shadows to sunlight.

Kevin Lynch has written for Down Beat, Coda, The Chicago Tribune, The Milwaukee Journal and blogs at Culture Currents (Vernaculars Speak).

special guest
ADAM LARSON, tenor saxophone on “Lawns” & “Greetings to Idris”

Recorded Live at The Dead Poet, July 31, 2018
New York City, New York
Produced by Andrew Neesley
Engineered & mixed by Aaron Bastinelli for Fun Sound Studios
Mastered by Michelle Mancini for Demifugue Mastering
Photography by Leo Moscaro
Designed by Jamie Breiwick

Thank you to my family, Jessica, Nathan, Jack, Nolan, and Eliza, and especially Andrew Neesley for the friendship, trust and support. Without you, Andy, this record would not have happened! Thank you to Matt, John and Adam for the friendship and the music. Spaceheater lives!