New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble Live in Europe

Recorded over almost two years and in three countries, the NYSJE's live offering provides an overlook of some of this premiere ska band's finest moments. Scintillating horn solos crafted around finely constructed songs mix seamlessly in with organs, the occasional vocal singing and a tight, professional rhythm section. Representing why the band enjoys tremendous cross-genre respect (having now become mainstays at large jazz festivals), Live in Europe's sole shortcoming is its length; at clocking in at a mere 40 minutes, it offers only a taste of what can be expected from their performances. Nevertheless, what we have is of the highest calibre. Fred Reiter has never made a flute sound more intense or sexy as he has on "Elegy," while covers of songs by Thelonius Monk ("I Mean You") and Laurel Aitken ("More Whisky") shows the elasticity good ska can achieve without diluting its mass appeal. The NYSJE have consistently produced music for sophisticated listeners and their live act has always represented this. To have it on a CD, which begs for repeated listening, given both the outstanding qualities of the songs and the diverse range that the band stretches, is a gift well worth having. (Stomp)