Music: George Harrison
Jazz bassist Christian Fabian pushes his band to perform with "Positive Energy" on new CD
CHRISTIAN FABIAN and the FABIAN ZONE TRIO
Jazz bassist Christian Fabian uses recordings with his Fabian Zone Trio (sometimes augmented with horn players) as an opportunity to bring together different musicians on each project and to give them full improvisational freedom while pushing for the spirit of positive energy throughout the session. The result, as evidenced on his new Keys in Ascension album, is some of the best modern mainstream jazz, rooted in be-bop traditions, and also displaying elements of progressive soloing and rhythms.
On national airplay charts, Keys in Ascension has already reached #1 on Music Choice, Top 10 on Jazz Radio for Canada and Top 20 on Jazz Week.
“I named the group Fabian Zone Trio to identify a territory as a bandleader,” Fabian explains. “But I try to give total freedom within the ‘zone.’ It is not so much about me, but more of an opportunity for great musicians to come together to try new things, stretch boundaries and create music that has never been made before. Only by being totally open to the moment can you hope to make something innovative and special in jazz.”
Fabian’s music can be purchased at CAP Records’ website (jazzbeat.com), at various online stores such as CDbaby.com or Amazon.com, and at digital download sites such as iTunes.com. More information about Fabian is available at myspace.com/christianfabian.
The Fabian Zone Trio (the line-up changes from recording to recording, and tour to tour) is currently acoustic bassist Christian Fabian (Lionel Hampton, Mike Longo, Gary Burton, Elvin Jones, Hank Jones, Joe Lovano, Roy Hargrove, Al Gray, David Sanchez, John Stowell), acoustic pianist Don Friedman (Chet Baker, Ornette Coleman, Dexter Gordon, Clark Terry, Herbie Mann) and drummer Willard Dyson (Joe Sample, Charlie Hunter, Regina Belle, Grady Tate, Cassandra Wilson). They play as a trio on five of the 13 tunes, and on the rest receive support from one, two or four horn players.
The horn section consists of tenor and soprano saxophonist Ada Rovatti (John McLaughlin, Randy Brecker, Jeff Lorber, Phil Woods, Lee Konitz), alto saxophonist and flutist Cleave Guyton (Stanley Turrentine, Joe Henderson, Nat Adderly, Dizzy Gillespie, The Duke Ellington Orchestra), trumpet and flugelhorn player Brad Mason (Eric Clapton, Joe Zawinul, Natalie Cole, John Scofield, Alicia Keys) and trombonist Elliot Mason (Wynton Marsalis, Bill Watrous, Willie Nelson, Mike Stern, John Abercrombie).
“All the players on the recording are top musicians and seasoned professionals,” says Fabian. “I chose them because I like their playing and their personalities, and I knew they would all bring special energy to the session. Don is the elder statesman and we all respect his history. The rest of the band is quite a bit younger. I knew Cleave from when we both played with Lionel Hampton. I went to college with Brad and Elliot, and they have their own Mason Brothers Band. It’s an international mix since I am from Germany, Ada is from Italy, and Brad and Elliot are from England.”
Keys in Ascension was recorded live-in-the-studio to capture as much spontaneous improvisation and energy as possible. Overdubs were kept to an absolute minimum. Each tune is either a first or second take. “The arrangement is written out,” Fabian explains, “but the interaction is open. The content is up to the players. Everyone gets to express themselves and show their creative abilities. I am looking for a higher energy level -- not necessarily loud, but with dynamics and feelings that take the sound in directions you might not expect.”
Fabian named his latest recording Keys in Ascension because he believes the world is changing in positive ways, that old systems are being shaken up to better serve humanity, and that there is a new energy and consciousness beginning to grow everywhere on the planet. The album title not only describes musically-notated keys, or specific related tones, rising along the scale, but also humanity’s new-found concepts and tools for building a better society. Those key tools include uplifting music, evolving consciousness, new positive energy, a movement focusing on world truths, and governmental changes. Fabian’s new music is specifically representational of this evolution going on in the world today as he combines old and new musical ideas while stressing energy and positive feelings.
This new acoustic instrumental jazz album kicks off with the original tune “All One” (“dedicated to the truth that we are all connected”) and Fabian says, “We are all soloing at the same time, and with the four horns it became a sort of New Orleans sound.” The entire horn section also performs on the Fabian-penned “Marty’s Flair” and “Law of Grace,” but on his other originals he either keeps the group at just trio level (“Roger’s Heart”) or only utilizes fluegelhorn (“Kalle Anka”) or trombone (“Black & White”). The trio also works alone on Don Friedman’s “Friday Morning,” Cole Porter’s “What is This Thing Called Love” and Charlie Parker’s “K.C. Blues.” The trio with horns performs on Miles Davis’s “Jean-Pierre” (“Miles did it with his electric band, but I wanted to see how it would sound in an acoustic version”), Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Wave” (full horn section) and Jimmy Hugh’s “On the Sunny Side of the Street” (“dedicated to Lionel Hampton”). On the CD, all seven of the musicians get to solo (Christian takes bass solos on approximately half the tunes).
Fabian is currently very active in the New York City jazz scene. He was born in Sweden, but raised from the age of six in Germany. When he was 12-years-old, he was inspired to pursue jazz after seeing a Dizzy Gillespie concert, and meeting Dizzy. Soon Christian started learning to play electric bass, and when he was 16 began studying upright acoustic bass. Fabian left Germany to study at the Maastricht Conservatory in The Netherlands for nearly four years. At that time Christian started the jazz-rock-fusion band Time Design which eventually recorded three albums and built a strong regional following. Fabian moved to the United States to study at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. He became Lionel Hampton’s bassist for many years and still performs in the Lionel Hampton Big Band. Fabian was invited by the Thelonious Monk Institute to study with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Bill Taylor and Diana Krall, among others. Since moving to New York, Fabian has regularly played with a dozen different jazz groups on a freelance basis in addition to starting the Fabian Zone Trio. Fabian has studied with Mike Longo, and has become a music mentor/teacher in his own right. He also founded a non-profit organization, R.U.B. (Records of Universal Bandwidth), specifically to honor elder music greats and capture their knowledge and wisdom for future generations.
While still in college, Fabian played onstage with Gary Burton, Makoto Ozone, Sebastian DeKrom and Antonio Sanchez. In addition to the many great jazz instrumentalists Fabian has played with, he also has performed onstage with several top vocalists such as Lou Rawls, Jon Hendricks, Chaka Kahn, and Cheryl Bentyne of Manhattan Transfer. Christian’s own band, the Fabian Zone Trio, has released four previous CDs -- Across the Tracks, Curtain of Life, Of The Essence and The Masters Return! -- featuring top musicians such as Mike Longo, Lewis Nash, Jimmy Owens, Andy LaVerne, Danny Gottlieb, Claudio Roditi, Corey Christiansen and Steve Hunt. With Hunt, Christian formed the band Fabian, Hunt & Robinson, recorded the partially-vocal CD Soul Brothers, and toured Europe. In addition, the bassist formed another group, The Crane-Fabian Project with drummer Lance Crane, and they recorded the CD Crane/Fabian Project. Tunes written by Fabian won the group Hollywood Music in Media Awards for “Best Jazz Artist” in 2008 and 2009.
“If I am put on the spot to improvise as a musician, the best music comes out,” explains Fabian. “All of the players I chose for Keys to Ascension are marvelous musicians and all of them feel comfortable playing ‘in the moment.’ When we only play a piece once or twice, there is a certain energy connected to it that the listener senses. It’s an attempt to get to a different level of music through spontaneous creative interaction between the musicians.”