Music Reviews

New Album: Ensam

Kevin Brady Ensam cover high res

RTE Ten *****

“Boldly exploratory in its piano-driven construct, subtly rich in intent”  Contributed by Paddy Kehoe – 2016.

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 All About Jazz | U.S.A. ****

“Brady is an impressive drummer with strong chops, impeccable taste, creative & most notably, terrific tone” – Contributed by John Kelman – 2014.

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Downbeat Jazz Magazine | U.S.A. ***

Kevin Brady Drummer“Brady is worth keeping an eye on” ***

Over the years, the commendable efforts of the label Fresh Sounds New Talent have provided some exposure to young musicians who. if deserving, are yet to define their musical vision. Although Irish drummer cannot be accused of bringing Bill Carrothers’ with the unique purpose of gaining credibility – the two seem to have developed a solid working relationship – the pianist provides most of the material and the recording definitely bears his mark and displays his most lyrical and romantic side. The most memorable aspects of the first part of the program are Brady’s playing on his ” Out of the Blue” and Carrothers Russian folk song quotes on his own ” That Russian Thing.” At midpoint, with the delightfully zany ” Waltz Macabre” characterized by the pianist’s rhythmic imagination and the drummer’s circus rolls, the proceeding take a turn for the better. The title track is a collective effort that suggests that the trio is even more at ease without the constraints of fixed parameters.

As a drummer and a leader, Brady avoids the common mistake of indulging himself and only takes one short solo. The wild card in this trio is, Dave Redmond, who’s a sensitive musician and understands how to move the music forward without getting in the way, especially while dealing with Carrothers’ personal harmonic approach. Brady is worth keeping an eye on. Contributed by Alain Drouot.

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Record Collector Magazine | U.K. ****

The Kevin Brady Trio featuring Bill Carrothers Zeitgeist cover“Brady & Redmond’s finely nuanced contributions should not be underestimated” ***

Another noteworthy new album comes courtesy of the Kevin Brady Trio. Led by the Irish composer/drummer (who’s also a member of the group, Organics) the trio has produced an engaging CD entitled Zeitgeist (**** Fresh Sound), which features American pianist, Bill Carrothers, and bassist, David Redmond. Carrothers’ beautifully limpid piano filigrees – especially on the mournfully elegant Gitchee Gumee – are a key component of the trio’s appeal, though Redmond and Brady’s finely nuanced contributions should not be underestimated. Contributed by Charles Waring

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Chicago Reader | U.S.A. ****

“A stunning equilibrium, the group to move as one”

Bill Carrothers sounds particularly strong on a new date called Zeitgeist (Fresh Sound New Talent), led by Irish drummer Kevin Brady an admirer who asked Carrothers to visit Ireland & The U.K. for some live dates.  Along with bassist Dave Redmond they formed an easy bond. Redmond and Brady each contribute a tune, but the strongest material comes from Carrothers–the aptly titled “Waltz Macabre,” for instance, presents contrasting simultaneous vibes, like sprightly vs. dark and graceful vs. jagged. Carrothers never really grandstands, and he and the other players achieve a stunning equilibrium, allowing the group to move as one. Contributed by Peter Margasak

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The Irish Times ****

“A transatlantic relationship destined to get better and better”

Both subtlety and verbosity are at play on Dublin drummer Kevin Brady’s latest hook-up with American pianist Bill Carrothers. Brady and Bassist Dave Redmond have considerable playing experience together, so much so that they can probably anticipate each other’s twists and turns. But the arrival of Carrothers brings new vibrancy to the mix. Listen to how the dialogue develops and note the point at which individual characters dominate the discourse. Carrothers is at his best when adjusting new harmonic shapes, a challenge which drummer and bassist respond to with considerable vim. There’s a beautiful, slow motion lyrical drag to the tune ‘ That Russian Thing’. While their version of Wayne Shorter’s Black Nile makes a vintage bottle taste fresh and new. Review by Jim Carroll

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Sunday Independent | Ireland ****

“Tracks capture spirit of the time”

Bill Carrothers is an American pianist who tours regularly with Kevin Brady and Dave Redmond. This is the trio’s second CD, launched in June. They establish a feeling of spontaneity right from the opening number, Brady’s Out Of The Blue. Six tunes composed by Carrothers vary in pace and mood and Redmond’s Big Mouth is a calm piece that belies its title. Zeitgeist, co-written by all three musicians, is a highlight!. Equally engaging is the lyrical, melancholy treatment of Wayne Shorter’s Black Nile. Review by Grainne Farren

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Journal Of Music | Ireland ****

Kevin Brady Jazz Drummer“Zeitgeist is a truly international effort, another notch in Brady’s expanding producer’s belt, and a superb collection of music”

It is nearly three years since drummer Kevin Brady formed his current trio with fellow Dubliner Dave Redmond and the mercurial American pianist Bill Carrothers. That the group has developed and sustained a deep musical relationship across this span, with four national tours and two first-rate recordings to its credit, is particularly noteworthy as Carrothers lives in the rugged, distant reaches of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, far from the urban centre’s where jazz usually flourishes and farther still from Ireland.
But this collaboration transcends geography just as its music transcends genre.

The trio’s first record, Common Ground, one of the top jazz issues of 2008, documented the sensitive feel these musicians have for each other’s playing and for the harmonic and rhythmic challenges they set for themselves. Zeitgeist builds on their ever-growing sense of common purpose and is full of surprising moments that run against the grain of expectation, eschewing cliché and exploring musical territory that is broad and compelling.

The atmospheric opening track ‘Out of the Blue’, written by Brady, is evidence of his maturing compositional sense and offers an ideal platform for the trio’s well-knit, interactive approach. Likewise, bassist Redmond’s ‘Big Mouth’ is a harmonically probing tune that seems to define itself as it goes along. Both Irishmen are writing with the assurance and sense of adventure that has marked their playing for many years.

Most of the tunes on the album, however, are written by Carrothers. Well known for his openness to sources many jazz musicians are not even aware of – music-hall songs, hymns, bluegrass, and maritime music, for example – his pieces are informed by a breadth of influence that gives them a dimension and richness well beyond the time-worn structures of post-bop jazz.

‘That Russian Thing’, with its stately, dance-like feel and references to Fiddler on the Roof, and the slyly humorous ‘Waltz Macabre’ give evidence of an interest in European musical forms that rarely intersects with jazz. ‘Home Row’ and ‘In the Wheelhouse’ show us that side of Carrothers that loves Clifford Brown and Sonny Rollins. But for me the album’s highlight is the closing track, ‘Gitchee Gumee’, a lovely, lyrical tribute to Lake Superior, the world’s largest fresh-water lake, which presides over Carrothers’ home state of Michigan with the kind of mythic grandeur (cleverly evoked by quotes from Stravinsky’s Firebird) that the Irish Sea holds for Stephen Dedalus in the opening pages of Ulysses.

Anyone who has seen this trio live will know how these three very individual players love to push each other and themselves, and how the result is always exciting and distinctive. Zeitgeist captures that spirit. With eloquent liner notes from Ray Comiskey and distribution and production support from Barcelona’s dynamic Fresh Sound Records, Zeitgeist is a truly international effort, another notch in Brady’s expanding producer’s belt, and a superb collection of music. Contributed by Kevin Stevens

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JAZZWISE | U.K. ***

“Excellent, something that needs to be heard”

An excellent follow-up to this trio’s debut Common Ground and a worthy motivation for the tour they undertook this May. Much of the character of the trio, and a majority of the original repertoire, are down to the rather unique contribution of the still neglected Carrothers. I’ve endeavored before to describe his rhythmic flexibility and harmonic language, which, while resembling a few other pianists in small ways, result in a sound that’s difficult to nail in non-technical language.

In this context, it’s not surprising that Brady’s opening track, a moody minor 3/4 piece called ‘ Out of the Blue’, sounds remarkably different from the recent version by the trio Organics which also includes the drummer.

But this seems the best forum for drawing out Brady’s qualities, and likewise Redmond is usefully stretched, more than in some other contexts. For some reason Carrothers’ lyrical closing item, ‘Gitchee Gumee’ contains an extended quotation from Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, but these comments are mere listening notes to something that needs to be heard. Contributed by Brian Priestly

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JAZZ JOURNAL | U.K. ****

“The interaction between the musicians is first class”

Irish drummer Brady and fellow countryman Redmond have been teaming up with New York pianist Carrothers for four years, settling into a well-integrated trio. The interaction between the musicians is first class. Their approach comes out of the Bill Evans trio of the early 1960s, but is thoroughly contemporary.

All the material, except Wayne Shorter’s Black Nile, comes from within the group, and there does seem to be a strong organic relationship between composition and interpretation. Carrothers is technically very correct, but his playing has spirit, originality and emotional force. Definitely not background listening; concentration is required to hear the many subtle nuances. Contributed by Mark Gardner

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All Music Guide | U.S.A. ****

“Jazz fans should seek this one out and be quite pleased with the results“

Drummer Kevin Brady has languished in the Irish jazz scene as this recording done in Dublin attests, but the distinctively American aspect of the music is more prevalent that any fusion with jigs or reels. Due to the presence of veteran pianist Bill Carrothers, the sounds are cast in phrasings closer to Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, or Denny Zeitlin, an all-original program of poetic jazz with straight ahead bop, ballads, or contemporary jazz as the focal point’s.

Carrothers – a true unsung hero of modern jazz piano – puts Brady and bassist Dave Redmond through the paces of the stair-step, cat-quick, neo-bop, Kenny Clarke – flavored straight bop ” In the Wheelhouse” and the playful, tuneful ” Home Row.” But there’s scheming and misdirection lurking in the deep ” Out of the blue” reflecting Jarrett; the purely mysterious ” Big Mouth”; and the circus-veil surrounding ‘ Waltz Macabre” a la Kurt Weill.”

At times a Native American or spiritual quality creeps in, but the trio keeps the ghostly visage in check, even offering up a super slow version of Wayne Shorter’s ” Black Nile” to reaffirm the group is cognizant of past masters. Brady himself is Spartan in his rhythm navigating, aware that Carrothers is being given complete freedom to weave in and out as he pleases melodically. A sleeper of an album, jazz fans should seek this one out and be quite pleased with the results. – Contributed by Michael G. Nastos.
Jazzwise Magazine – Live Review Pizza Express Jazz Club, London

Bill Carrother’s is one of those well kept secrets in American jazz – another name tat comes to mind is pianist Marc Copland – with an impressive CV that includes recordings as leader with Bill Stewart, Gary Peacock and many high profile sideman roles. Perhaps Carrothers’ retreat to a remote part of Michigan a few years ago added something to his elusiveness.

However, for the past few years he’s been touring and recording with the Dublin based drummer Kevin Brady’s trio, One of Ireland’s leading jazz musicians. For someone who has been out of the limelight he steals it here in Soho on the trio’s penultimate gig, which also features Dublin bassist Dave Redmond, coming at the end of a two-week Irish tour showcasing a new CD Zeitgeist on Barcelona’s splendid Fresh Sound New Talent label. Carrothers is difficult to pigeonhole and it’s his unpredictability that quickly reveals itself in the first set particularly on ‘Waltz Macabre’. Contributed by Selwyn Harris

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The Brecon Jazz Festival | The Tribune U.K.

“The Kevin Brady Trio displayed an enviable poise and togetherness amid cascading instrumental breaks and improvised flourishes”

Contrary to the popular myth about jazz musicians, we didn’t all just get stoned and forget to get here” quipped pianist Bill Carrothers, by way of apology that the acclaimed Irish-American trio he stars in took the stage some half an hour later than billed at the Brecon Jazz Festival 2011.
“Airport issues” was the official line given, and judging by their disheveled appearance, the trio, led by Dublin drummer Kevin Brady, were straight off the plane. Happily, however, their flustered arrival didn’t hinder an accomplished, varied set with flashes of virtuoso beauty.

Hunched crab-like over his piano, Massachusetts-based Carrothers – whose 20-year career has included playing sideman for Ira Sullivan and Buddy De Franco – stole the show. The trio’s stock trade of frenetic, effervescent post-bop is an invigorating sound, with Carrothers’ hands galloping left and right across the ivories, matched blow for trilling blow by the intricate percussive stabs of Brady and running bass lines of fellow-Dubliner Dave Redmond.

The band has been playing together for “four or five years”, according to Brady, and displayed an enviable poise and togetherness amid cascading instrumental breaks and improvised flourishes.

However, the biggest thrills came when the pace was slackened, allowing Carrothers to emerge as a clear focal point. With the ominous opening chords of ‘Delilah’, he summoned a sort of gothic drama, made all the more eerie by the huge looming shadows of each man projected on the back wall by sparse stage lighting. Even more impressive was ‘Peg’ – written for Carrothers’ wife, he told us – which started with a plaintive lone piano figure that evoked the undulating melancholia of an Einaudi score, before swelling to a joyous crescendo, during which Carrothers appeared to be humming every note along in time with his fingers.

The crowd was certainly appreciative (one man almost decapitated me he was clapping so ferociously) – Worth the wait, for sure.”

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The Sydney Morning Herald | Australia

“Brady brings sensitivity and an indefinable Irish lilt to the feels surrounding the work”

Some albums hit you on the head at first hearing. This one creeps up. Initially it sounds like conventional enough piano-trio jazz, but you gradually become aware that the musical world is being viewed through a slightly distorted prism, and that some of the collective magic can be missed, having been glossed over with a veneer of simplicity.

The idiosyncrasy is more overt on the wonderful Waltz Macabre, where a slowly unraveling um-pah-pah rhythm is like the soundtrack for a fairground hallucination going horribly wrong. Drummer Kevin Brady and bassist Dave Redmond bring sensitivity and an indefinable Irish lilt to the feels surrounding the work of brilliant American pianist Bill Carrothers. Contributed by John Shand