November 1, 2014
December Moment CD Released!
If you are looking for some new music to spice up that old and moldy holiday music collection, the latest recording from No Explanations will do the trick. December Moment features 16 holiday classics and one original (the title track) in a great sounding mood setter guaranteed to bring joy to the season for years to come!
When not working with No Explanations, guitarist Dan Leonard is extremely active as an in-demand sideman who also tours regularly as lead guitarist with Deanna Bogart. If you have not yet purchased Round Trip, his duo recording with pianist Mark Christopher Brandt, it is not too late. Round Trip will make a great Christmas present for any true lover of creative and improvisational music. The Christmas recording from No Explanations does not include the exceptional guitarist, but he was directly involved in the production of the album and in full support of the project. December Moment is a spontaneous "side project" from the No Explanations team, and while it is not part of the original vision for the 5-disc collector series spear-headed by Leonard and Brandt, it will undoubtedly become a welcome addition to our fans' listening library.
December Moment comes from three members of the No Explanations musical team who perform regularly throughout the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. area as a jazz trio. During the 2013 holiday season, pianist Mark Christopher Brandt, bassist Shaun Jurek, and drummer Russell Lucas worked steadily from the end of November until the second week of January performing Christmas music for one holiday party after another. At the end of the season, they felt that "the moment" was right for a jazz recording. A trip to the studio in January 2013 etched their "oneness" as a honed trio into a beautiful recording of Christmas music which will become the defining holiday sound for many joyful listeners.
December Moment is a jazz recording in the full sense of the word, with tasteful improvisational work from all three musicians on every piece. That being said, only a few tunes feature actual solos from individual members. Rather than turning each song into a "blowing session," the musicians opted to document their ability to communicate with each other on a very deep level, as the music occurs in the moment, by melding and moving the melodies through gentle and sensitive evolutions. With intense listening to one another and a reverence for these traditional melodies, the trio created a beautiful and seamless musical experience for musicians and listeners alike. There are, however, some "classic" moments of improvisation from each member at different times throughout the album, with traditional trades between piano and drums on Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, unexpected surprises from the pianist on pieces like O Little Town of Bethlehem and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and a colorful bass solo on the unlikely vehicle We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
It is evident that there were some pre-recording discussions about form and even some actual arranging of pieces, but it is equally clear that once the engineer said "rolling", all bets were off. Every time the listener pushes play, the spontaneous moments shared among the artists will come alive again and again in the tradition of jazz recording. One thing is certain; the musicians in No Explanations are not offering a formula approach to anything they do. In the same way that Round Trip is not a typical duo recording between a set guitarist and a set pianist with defined roles of melody, harmony and rhythm, December Moment is not a typical piano, bass, and drums jazz recording. This trio performs more as an improvising chamber music ensemble, with each member contributing contrapuntally and rhythmically throughout, rather than offering the standard "bass, drums, and chunk" for the pianist to show off and blow over. If anything, the pianist on this outing is refreshingly understated so that all three members become melody, harmony, and rhythm, with the music emerging as the master, not the musicians.
The pieces on December Moment are all first-takes played "live to tape" as it was done in the days before digital editing and multi-track recording. The pieces are Christmas carols and classics that every single person will recognize from age 10 to 100. The title track, December Moment, was composed spontaneously by all three members in the studio at the end of the session. It begins with a reflective piano intro from Mark, evolving into a short little rhythmic motif that is immediately picked up by Russell on the drums, and the two are joined by Shaun on bass as they spin out a contemplative, eclectic closer for this exciting and enjoyable holiday album.
'Tis the season to be jolly and No Explanations will get you there quickly. Purchase December Moment here! A great gift for friends, family, and don't forget yourself!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Dan, Mark, Shaun, and Russell!