I had the honor of working with Ralph Alessi as an undergraduate at Eastman in 1996. Coming from a relatively conservative jazz background, I hadn’t been exposed to the freedom of less-structured improvisational environments, and these new experiences drastically altered my musical world-view. Many of the concepts Ralph and Michael Cain discussed during my time in school continue to inform my opinions and approaches to music, and I’m eternally grateful for their influence.
Ralph is joined on the recording by one of my favorite pianists, Gary Versace, who now holds the jazz piano faculty position at Eastman. Also on this record are Drew Gress, and Nasheet Waits, again, two of my favorite musicians out there.
The music on this recording blurs the line between composition and improvisation, which in my mind is the whole point of a modern improviser’s aesthetic. I appreciate the seemingly endless stream of ideas offered by Ralph, and his unique voice in this music is unmistakable. Gary, Drew, and Nasheet provide beautiful accompaniments, also adding their individual voices to produce a complete work.
The music here is really amazing.