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“Music for The Last Flower” Best of 2014, Robert Bush and Maurice Hogue

Picture 1We’re very honored to be on 2 lists for Best of 2014 Jazz Recordings. First is from music critic and wonderful writer, Robert Bush, on All About Jazz. Robert is a huge supporter of the music and always writes with “big ears” and a ‘big heart”! He also writes for The San Diego Reader,and NBC San Diego.

One Man's Jazz 2We are also on Maurice Hogue’s One Man’s Jazz 2014 Favourite Recordings list. Maurice has an internet radio show called One Man’s Jazz, which “airs” Thursday nights, 9PM to Midnight (EST) and repeats Monday at 4AM (EST) on taintradio.org. You can also go to his website and listen to past radio shows. Maurice is also a huge supporter of the music, and his shows are filled with the latest, “cutting edge sounds”.
A huge thank you to Robert and Maurice, who have dedicated their lives to supporting the music through their wonderful talents!

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Music for The Last Flower CD Review Ken Waxman

NYCJazz Record

Music for the Last Flower is program music, composed in 2003, which receives its long overdue documentation. An eight-part suite inspired by James Thurber’s 1939book, the nuanced performance highlights the writing and playing of pianist Diane Moser.

Structuring her anti-war musical fable so that the brutal noises of combat and bucolic intimations of love, peace and flowers are present, Moser never overplays the programmatic concept, ensuring that the suite makes its point through hearty helpings of advanced yet swinging jazz. Following a cacophonous free-for-all introduction, the dynamic theme is first exposed, reappearing in diverse guises throughout the suite. The invigorating work of fleet trombonist Ben Williams is impressive;on the moving “…love is reborn…”, for instance, when a polyphonic theme variation arrives, his balanced tongue flutters incite a staccato response, which soon includes sharp boppish lines from Marty Ehrlich’s alto saxophone while rhythmic connections bubble underneath via Moser,bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Gerry Hemingway.

Strummed bass percussiveness and measured drum clip-clops are put to good use when the writing calls for bellicose emphasis. Moser’s sophisticated composing includes space to reflect violence with sequences of tremolo emphasis but tranquility is expressed with the same facility. Tracks such as“…when love is no longer…” and “…she finds a flower…” are the most moving, Moser’s richly textured syncopation almost making one feel the child-like despondency with the first and subsequent joy in germinating floral discovery in the second.

“…a hope for peace…” connects earlier narrative variations with harmonized horn parts, presaging Moser’s cunning note placement and Dresser’s moderated plucks to create a sense of normalcy. This cheerful concept is reinforced with a subtle coda of interlocking string voicings. Music for the Last Flower begs the question why its composer’s talent isn’t better recognized.

By Ken Waxman, New York City Jazz Record July 2014

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Music for The Last Flower CD Review by George Kanzler

Picture 1Picture 2Moser presents a suite she composed with grants from Chamber Music America played by a handpicked band that can sound like a hard bop quintet as well as an avant-garde chamber jazz ensemble.

Music for the Last Flower, Diane Moser Quintet (Planet Arts), is a six-part suite inspired by the “parable in pictures” book of the same name by James Thurber depicting war and its aftermath. The quintet’s musicians—reedman Marty Ehrlich, trombonist Ben Williams, bassist Mark Dresser, drummer Gerry Hemingway and pianist Moser—use Mingus Workshop style expressionism to depict the sounds of war on the opening piece with blaring horns and rasping bass and drums giving way to a pounding, atonal piano solo that settles into brief jazz passages. Then the moans of an arco bass lead to the second movement, “…when love is no longer…,” a lyrically evocative trio track of clarinet, piano and bass with a spare folkish melody repeated by all, including both arco and pizzicato from Dresser. The third movement is an even more lyrical piano solo, Moser folding arpeggios into swelling chords and a swaying dance figure tune. The quintet reassembles as a Latin-tinged hard bop ensemble for the fourth movement complete with robust horn solos, then the rumbles of war return on the fifth movement, an elaboration of themes from the first. The final movement is a hymn-like dirge with a hint of optimism, reflected in the title: “…a hope for peace…”
By George Kanzler May 2014 Hot House Jazz

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Music for The Last Flower CD Review by Robert Bush

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Diane Moser Quintet: Music For The Last Flower (2014)
By ROBERT BUSH,
Published: April 19, 2014

New Jersey pianist/composer Diane Moser created the music for Music for the Last Flower in 2003, with support from Chamber Music America, but only recorded it in 2012, in one day, no less, this time aided by a grant from New Music USA.

This six-part suite flows effortlessly through a wide arc that begins with sonic caterwaul, lights down on moments of intense lyric beauty, and ends in a hypnotic meditation for peace, with potent features for her all-star cast of free improvising partners including Mark Dresser on bass, Marty Ehrlich on reeds, Ben Williams on trombone, and Gerry Hemingway on drums.

An orgy of violence characterizes the beginning of …” towards the end of WWII…” with braying horns, throaty bowed bass and piano stabs before a vortex of an ostinato takes over. Hemingway’s seizure-like fusillade yields to a wrenching conversation between Moser and Dresser’s yearning arco.

“When love is no longer…” features a kind of Native American left hand vamp, lushly harmonized by the piano and bass, and when Ehrlich’s clarinet makes it a trio—the chocolate simmer of his horn ratchets the timbre-fest into a sumptuous celebration.

Moser’s solo piano feature “she finds a flower…” is an intoxicating mélange of touch and dynamics, revealing an appreciation for the magic possibilities of life as seen through the eyes of a survivor. The Latin to swing feel of “love is reborn…” highlights the melodic exchange of Ehrlich’s keening alto and Williams’ chortling trombone,and the group improvisation that steers the tune towards its conclusion is a dizzying nod to both Dixieland and Charles Mingus.

That rushing ostinato from the first piece returns in the shorter “still not learning the lessons of war…” creating vignette-like warnings and an absolutely brilliant a cappella Dresser solo which leads seamlessly into “a hope for peace…” an elegy of quiet, weary optimism where anguished voices swirl into a prayer for humanity.

This music is powerful, uncompromising, and brilliantly conceived. Squalls of intensity brush into moments of extreme lyric grace and it even swings when it should.

Track Listing: Towards the end of WWII; When love is no longer; She finds a flower; Love is reborn; Still not learning the lessons of war; A hope for peace.

Personnel: Diane Moser: piano; Mark Dresser: bass; Marty Ehrlich: reeds; Gerry Hemingway: drums; Ben Williams: trombone.

Record Label: Planet Arts

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Music for The Last Flower: CD Release Performance Review

rail-logotypeFrom compassionate pianist and composer Diane Moser—with Marty Ehrlich, reeds; Ken Filiano, bass; Mike Sarin, drums; and Ben Williams, trombone—performing a suite from her new Music for the Last Flower CD based on James Thurber’s The Last Flower—A Parable in Pictures, which chronicles all the cycles of war and was written and published in 1939 after the Germans invaded Poland. Moser’s six-part suite has been long-in-progress and describes that book through music, with sweeping and compelling mood changes that take us through all those emotions and cycles. Moser has been a long-time, but quiet, force on the jazz and new music scene and a frequent collaborator with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Gerry Hemingway (both appear on the CD version of the piece). In concert and on CD, I experienced a wide range of textures and was taken on frantic rides that turned from mournful to embracing, and comforting, then swinging/life affirming, then fierce and fiery again: like war itself. It is a beautiful, fully realized piece. I highly recommend the CD; it will warm your soul as easily as it will break your heart. Moser states in the notes that rhythms of tanks, bombers, hopelessness, despair, love, and rebirth are interrupted again by chaos and devastation and she hopes that a prayer can be heard which will result in bringing peace. “Outtakes” by Steve Dalachinsky April 2nd, 2014
Diane Moser, image from James Thurber’s The Last Flower. Illustration by Megan Piontkowski.
review illustration mid size

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DIANE MOSER QUINTET With MARTY EHRLICH/BEN WILLIAMS/MARK DRESSER/GERRY HEMINGWAY

Music For The Last Flower (A Suite For Jazz Quintet) (Planet Arts 3013-25; USA) Featuring Diane Moser on piano with Marty Ehrlich on alto sax & clarinet, Ben Williams on trombone, Mark Dresser on contrabass and Gerry Hemingway on drums. I’ve known Ms. Moser for more than a decade mostly as a longtime supporter of DMG. I know that she is originally from Southern California and worked with Mark Dresser and Diamanda Galas way back when. I’ve also heard her fine duo CD with Mr. Dresser (on CIMP) and know that she has an ongoing big band which includes a number of fine musicians who also live in New Jersey where the band plays semi-regularly.

Considering that she has so few recordings and is vastly under-recognized, I was surprised how much work was put into this disc. Ms. Moser has put together an amazing quintet with a number of Downtown greats like Marty Ehrlich, Ben Williams, Mark Dresser (currently in San Diego) and Gerry Hemingway (currently in Switzerland). This disc is a jazz suite inspired by a book by James Thurder called, “The Last Flower, A Parable in Pictures”. This book was written in 1939 and deals with the hopelessness of war and the hope for peace. I was playing Ed Palermo’s (another Jersey-ite like myself), recent tribute to Frank Zappa the other day at the store and played this disc next. The opening of this disc has a short blast of strange vocals which reminded me and other folks at DMG of the Mothers of Invention, Zappa’s main band in the 1960’s. It is a powerful opening leads quickly into a strong, tight, full quintet onslaught. This is a long piece which evolves through sections with solo bass into a somber chamber clarinet section. Ms. Moser plays some lovely, tranquil unaccompanied piano on “She Finds a Flower”, which evolves into the next piece “Love is Reborn” which features the great harmonious horns of Mr. Ehrlich on alto sax and Mr. Williams of trombone. Later in this piece the entire quintet and especially both horn blast off into some dizzying rapids with amazingly spirited interplay between all five members. The last piece is another elegant chamber like piece in which all members are utilized perfectly, playing with more restraint and than is usually the case for their more regular further out offerings. This entire suite works well as a whole and tells a handful of connected short stories.

Bruce Lee Gallanter-Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter February 14th, 2014