Saxophonist and composer Jacob Teichroew, along with a quintet of international musicians that all call New York home, debuts on Fresh Sound/New Talent with his album Tableaux. Defined by Merriam-Webster as “a striking or artistic grouping,” it is an apt descriptor for this collection of original compositions. Teichroew’s craft, both on his horn and with his pen, bear evidence of a great sense of discipline and patience. Fresh Sound/New Talent, based in Barcelona, has long been a fertile ground for discovering new voices in the modern jazz scene; Teichroew’s album fulfills that pedigree. On his first release, he is joined by Dutch guitarist Syberen van Munster, pianist Jarrett Cherner, bassist Petros Klampanis from Greece, and Jerusalem-born drummer Ronen Itzik. Christina Teichroew, Jacob’s wife, sings on “Tenet.”
His notoriety in the jazz world might be as much due to his role as editor at jazz.about.com
, where he worked from 2008-2012, as to his saxophone performance. In addition to the exposure to a vast amount of music, Teichroew’s experience as a reviewer and editor directly impacted his compositional perspective. “ As a writer, my task was to form an idea that I felt had some substance, to express that idea in the clearest and simplest way, and to try to make the expression as alluring as possible so that I could keep readers’ interest,” Jacob explains. “I think this exercise translates exactly to my development as a musician. I hold each of my compositions and improvisations to the same standard of substance, clarity, and allure.” Clarity was a quality he sought in recordings he reviewed, and his insights gained from critiquing the work of others sharpened his focus when turned toward his own music.
The quintet that performs on Tableaux has been a working band since January of 2012, though Teichroew’s relationships with the individual musicians extend back five or six years. Teichroew’s decision to put a band together was the result of a pep talk from drummer Itzik. “Ronen encouraged me to write some music, put together a group, and record. I took his advice, and spent a year writing music and developing a sound I wanted to share.” The recording of the album at Brooklyn’s Bunker Studio was the culmination of six months of intense rehearsal and gigging.
Teichroew has a patience to his playing and writing, a woody sound without much vibrato, that bears resemblance to Mark Turner. “One of the things I love about the saxophone is the range of colors it can achieve,” Jacob says, reflecting on his classical training. “Mark Turner’s tone reminds me that I didn’t have to emulate the conventionally gruff or edgy saxophone sound,” a sound that didn’t necessarily fit the compositions on Tableaux. The introduction to “Sleepless Eyes” shows that Teichroew can indeed lean towards the more aggressive tenor sounds of many current saxophonists, while his interpretation of the theme demonstrates his dynamic control on the instrument.
The quest for simplicity and clarity in Teichroew’s writing brings attention to the little details, beautifully captured by engineer Aaron Nevezie: Itzik’s pristine cymbal work on “The Time is Now” or the propulsive snare of “Why Not”; the crystalline interplay between van Munster and Cherner, especially on the arpeggiated figures of the opening “Pastorale.” The tandem of Teichroew’s tenor and van Munster’s guitar, both leaning towards the clean and crisp in lieu of the often overblown and overdriven sound that dominates contemporary music, create a classic-sounding front line on “Sleepless Eyes” that manages to be firmly modern. “I knew I wanted my first recording to be straightforward and simple,” says Teichroew. “All of the pieces are extremely conventional in terms of form. I began by writing a simple lead sheet or sketch. Then I remolded the harmony and form, the way one might rearrange a jazz standard. I wanted to draw the listeners toward the mood and undulating drama of each piece.”
Born in Silver Spring, Maryland, Jacob Teichroew took up the saxophone at the age of ten. Upon arriving at Lawrence University, he studied concurrently with classical saxophonist Steven Jordheim and renowned jazz composer and educator Fred Sturm, among others. Following a stint at the Amsterdam Conservatory and the completion of his Bachelor’s at Lawrence, Teichroew moved to New York to pursue his Master’s Degree at Queen’s College under the tutelage of trumpeter/arranger Michael Philip Mossman and saxophonist Antonio Hart.