REVIEWS

LA JAZZ SCENE

Justin Chart is an alto-saxophonist who goes his own way. He has an original tone and a quietly emotional style that can be quite atmospheric. His sound would fit in comfortably in the soundtrack of a film noir, evoking dark rainy nights in Los Angeles that are full of intrigue and mystery.

A veteran of the music scene in Southern California, Justin Chart has composed for a variety of feature films and television shows but is best known as a saxophonist who has played in many different jazz and rock groups during the past few decades. Along the way he has developed his own way to create free jazz, resulting in freely improvised music that, in addition to its cinematic qualities, are painted soundscapes that sound composed even though they are made up on the spot.

On Intuition, Chart spontaneously created a dozen originals in the studio with his quartet which is comprised of either Chris Potter or an unidentified player simply called Stupendous on piano, Bill Markus or Andrew Hill on bass, and Ian Wurfl or Vince Fosset, Jr. on drums. Every performance on the release is the first and only take of that particular work, and no editing or overdubbing took place after the performance. Unlike some of the high-energy free jazz events of the past, Justin Chart’s music includes melodic themes, chord changes, and very coherent ensembles. The musicians react quickly to each other, swing or set grooves, and blend together, creating music that somehow sounds pre-planned.

Intuition begins with Justin Chart’s alto introducing the haunting ballad “At 3 A.M,” setting a mood that is carried on during the piano solo. “The Sideral Sound,” which sounds a little like “Work Song,” has the leader improvising over the walking bass.

Singer/rapper Know-Madik has a talking vocal on “Didn’t Then I Did” that fits in with the adventurous and hyper piece. A fast bass pattern sets up “Just Like That” which features Chart flying over his sidemen, the pianist playing fairly free with the hard-swinging rhythm section, and is topped off by a melodic drum solo.

The other improvisations set a variety of moods, from the mournful ballad “Our Hands,” a pair of minor blues (“Always In All Ways” and “Cherry Tonalin”) and the laidback “These Changes Devine” to the funky “Somethin To Say” and the soulful if bleak “Blue Will Get You.” “Diamond Of The Night” is a highlight, starting with the feel of a ragged waltz and including a lyrical statement from the altoist along with a catchy bass pattern and a swinging piano solo. “Pleased After A Day’s Work” seems like the perfect title for the closer for the musicians Chart must have been quite happy with the results of their spontaneous explorations.

Intuition, which is arguably Justin Chart’s finest recording so far, is filled with intriguing and inventive music that is well worth several close listens.

Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian

Entertainment Weekly

Justin Chart’s Colorstorm, a Journey in Jazz

Albums are more than just a collection of songs, they are sonic journeys and much of their enjoyment is derived from the dynamic ebb and flow, either complementing or contrasting, musical and emotional peaks. There is a lotto be said for the way tracks are ordered to attain the maximum effect.

A great example of this is the sweet and sensual tones of Justin Chart’s Colorstorm, a journey in jazz, that is used to alter the mood, a double album that will take you into the recesses of your mind and soul.

From the upbeat “The Obliquity of The Ecliptic” and “Taken by Storm”, which takes us back into the dynamic, sonic highlands, to the bittersweet “Lilac Luster” and “Faster Than Eyes Could Ever See” These left me reeling in ways print will not allow me to express. Jerry Olsen, Brian Mastalski, and Tom Berg and Susan Dwyr join the saxophonist for a stunning set, it’s towering presence, and irresistible rhythms leave you wanting more, and more. Trombonist Nate Reit is one of the many beautiful colors on this album, his horn has an ethereal presence.

Colorstorm shows a free blowing compositional prowess that would later become Chart’s trademark. The lush “Teal in Time” and the shimmering grace of “Amethyst Afterglow” are more than they seem to be, in fact, most are, but particularly the title track “Colorstorm”, which on the surface seems like just another jazz piece, but when looked at from a different angle could be taken as a theme for a special moment for life, or a Cassavetes film soundtrack, perhaps the artist talking to himself, perhaps reminding us all that procrastination is not the way forward. The haunting “Winter Woman”, also the dream of a hopeful future put into song. If you are looking for the ultimate reminder that not all jazz pieces take us where we might hope for.

I can feel Justin Chart’s style, mood and sentiment to play the songs just as he chooses. No demarcations, no rules, no restrictions. The transference of soul to sound is remarkable. Colorstorm is reflective, musically adventurous, but more than anything, it is the sound of a true jazz master unburdened by notions of fad or fashion, of era or genre. More artists should try it, the world would be a much more interesting place if they did.

– Entertainment Weekly

All About Jazz

Justin Chart’s “Born of the Horn” On YouTube by Hrayr Attarian

Saxophonist Justin Chart is known for his atmospheric, and stimulating, spontaneous creations. His music has a distinct cinematic flair which becomes manifest on his YouTube single Born of the Horn. An intriguing video collage that Matthew Kuhn edited serves as a backdrop for Chart’s captivating improvisation.

Pianist Nate Jackson’s sparse, resonant chords set the noirish mood. Chart blows his yearning melody over drummer Danny Beallo’s sashaying beats and bassist Zach Andrews ‘ swaggering lines. Chart elegantly embellishes the tune and adds an emotive intensity and harmonic intricacy to it. Jackson takes a short and suave solo before a return to a thrilling overdubbed saxophone duet between Chart and himself.

Visually the video is no less stunning than the performance. The backdrop is mix of overlapping images of the band members in solarized silhouettes and clips from black and white films. The movie fragments are all from classics of Hollywood’s golden age.

The graphic and aural components of the piece work well together, blending nostalgia with a timeless, dream-like, ambience. It transports the imagination to the world of sultry nights, smoked filled, sparse private eye offices replete with mysterious female clients at the door. But enough said, the rest is in the clip.

Watch Video