Speak to ItSGL 1514-2
“Human Feel is part of a promising new leading edge in jazz: fierce horns set free to improvise within tight, pianoless arrangements….This nouveau chamber group is willing to risk inciting the guests to riot and wreck the chamber.”
— Thomas Conrad, Down Beat
The fourth CD by this Brooklyn-based collective builds on their strengths in a program that ranges across jazz, improv, and contemporary classical/new music, with a passing nod to the traditions of eastern Europe. As composers, Black, Speed and D’Angelo provide different frameworks for the band’s characteristic, often tensile explorations, heard as well in their atmospheric rendition of the Billie Holiday standard “Left Alone” where they’re joined by vocalist Holly Palmer. The feel moves in and out of time (from jazz-rock to free, polyrhythmic and vamp to rubato), while the shifting textural/melodic interplay demonsrtates their commitment to collective improvisation. As critic Louisa Hufstader remarked about their 1994 New World/Countercurrents release, “You can hear them listening to each other, reevaluating, reacting; there’s both urgency and joy in the process…These are really, really talented guys having fun.” The unedited analog recording vividly preserves the integrity of their playing.
Human Feel was formed in Boston in 1987, although Speed, Black and D’Angelo first played together in a big band during their high school days in Seattle. A self-produced CD appeared in 1989; Rosenwinkel joined the group in 1990, and their second CD was issued that year on GM Recordings. By 1993 the band had relocated to New York, where they perform frequently. They’ve also toured the West Coast three times and recently played in the Southwest.
The members of the group all lead busy musical lives as performers and composers. Jim Black tours and records with Tim Berne’s Bloodcount, Dave Douglas’s Tiny Bell Trio, Ellery Eskelin, Ben Monder (all on Songlines), and Hiroshi Minami. He has also recorded with Ed Schuller and Dewey Redman, Lee Konitz, Ned Rothenberg, Robert Dick, Stephan Furic, and Hilmar Jensson. Chris Speed, whose background is in classical music as well as jazz, is also a member of Bloodcount, and he and Jim co-lead Pachora, a Balkan/near Eastern quartet. As well he tours and records with Dave Douglas’s Sextet, Myra Melford’s Extended Ensemble, and Erik Friedlander’s Chimera. Andrew D’Angelo, also a member of Chimera, leads the groups In Hear, Smack for Some, and Saxophone Yard Sale. He writes for chamber groups and large ensembles, currently performs and records with Bobby Previte’s Weather Clear, Track Fast and the Jamie Saft/Cuong Vu band, and is a member of Aaron Alexander’s RaggedyTime. Kurt Rosenwinkel, a native of Philadelphia, leads his own quartet and tours and records with Paul Motian’s Electric Bebop Band and Once Blue. He has also performed and/or recorded with Gary Burton, Larry Goldings, Joshua Redman, Bill Stewart, Bob Berg, George Garzone, Danilo Perez and Mark Turner.
Update: after a long hiatus Human Feel reunited in 2006 and released Galore on Speed’s label Skirl.
“A constantly pulsating, always rough-riding experience in neo-avant, some kinda post-free jazz that stuns and delights. D’Angelo and Speed interlock beautifully, mingling tones in a poignant wash, even when squalling and rasping.” — Andrew Bartlett, The Rocket
“There is no denying the vision in this music…unique and powerful.” — Russ Summers, Option
**** “Speed is a compelling player with an original voice…Black’s dynamic, swirling drums are a continual highlight. Kurt Rosenwinkel rounds out the group with his sometimes aggressive, sometimes atmospheric, often horn-like guitar. The music is mostly a group effort and succeeds on its own terms.” — Steven A. Loewy, Allmusic.com
**** “Equal parts feisty extraversion and playful fantasy…Consistently imaginative.” — Pulse