Will Vinson – “Perfectly Out of Place” – 2016 – Reviews

all about jazz – Will Vinson: Perfectly Out Of Place


Perfectly Out Of Place—the sixth album from saxophonist Will Vinson—is a marvel of compositional design, textural beauty, and musicality. It’s both in keeping with his previous work and several steps beyond and above.While Vinson is essentially sticking with his favored quintet format on this one, he’s expanded his sonic palette by adding some judicious overdubs and bringing in a number of special guests—The Mivos Quartet, vocalist Jo Lawry, and percussionist Jamey Haddad. He’s also upped his already-impressive game on the writing end, broadening and elongating the picture(s) with material that’s a bit more through-composed than what he’s delivered in the past. It all adds up to one fascinating listen.While there are many and varied aspects of this music to admire, complete and purposeful artistic unification may be chief among them. Vinson’s primary collaborators—pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, guitarist Mike Moreno, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Jeff Ballard—all have the potential to be scene-stealers, and they do contribute plenty of memorable statements and ideas. But they never showboat here. The fact that they work in deference to the music is a credit to them and a sign of the respect they have for the material and its composer. They manage to band together without issue, asserting themselves while also keeping focus on the task(s) at hand. In short, they’re perfectly intheir respective places.The entryway into this world—the album-opening “Desolation Tango”—is paved with a mixture of allure and isolation. The Mivos Quartet delivers a captivating prelude, Penman’s simple rise-and-fall bass line serves as mooring and bonding agent, and the collective whole delivers an intoxicating perfume that floats and coalesces in intriguing fashion. Vinson manages to brilliantly mix the solid and vaporous. This is music that’s shapely and amorphous all at once.That opener helps to establish and identify the sound for this project, but it says little about the album’s direction. Vinson goes where he pleases with each piece, and he never goes to the same place twice. “Upside” is an energetic and playful winner that opens on a Ballard solo and features some of Vinson’s most uplifting work; “Willoughby General” delivers chilled-out charm and contains a soulfully pointed statement from Penman; “Limp Of Faith” is a patient and weighty meditation for piano and saxophone; and “Stiltskin (Some Drunk Funk)” works a hip and lopsided groove angle that establishes its own twenty-first century aesthetic while also winking toward the Brecker Brothers in parenthetical and (somewhat) audible fashion.Each of those works manages to impress, but “Skyrider” outdoes them all. It’s a sublime statement that capitalizes on the talents of everybody on the roster. Wondrously winding lines are delivered by artfully blended voices, moving pieces interlock and reconfigure themselves in astounding ways, solo heroics have a hand-in-glove fit with the surrounding architecture, and all parties have a stake in the success of the music. Words simply can’t capture the majesty, vibrancy, and power of this piece.Complexity and sophistication often manage to scare people away when it comes to music, but Will Vinson has managed to package both into a completely accessible and enjoyable album. Perfectly Out Of Place is quite an achievement by any and every measure.

Track Listing: Desolation Tango; Upside; Willoughby General; Skyrider; Intro To Limp Of Faith; Stiltskin (Some Drunk Funk); Chalk It Up; The Clock Killer; Perfectly Out Of Place.Personnel: Will Vinson: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, synthesizers, celesta; Mike Moreno: guitar; Gonzalo Rubalcaba: piano, Fender Rhodes, synthesizers; Matt Penman: bass; Jeff Ballard: drums; Jo Lawry: vocals; Jamey Haddad: percussion (4); The Mivos Quartet-Olivia De Prato: violin; Joshua Modney: violin; Victor Lowrie: viola; Mariel Roberts: cello.

Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: 5Passion


‘Perfectly Out Of Place’ Will Vinson

Apr 12, 2016  Updated Apr 29, 2016

A new album by saxophonist Will Vinson, who’s teamed up with an international band featuring Aussie Jo Lawry.

Will Vinson‘s Perfectly Out Of Place, and features a line-up of New York stalwarts, including Jeff Ballard (drums), Mike Moreno (guitar), New Zealand expat Matt Penman on bass, and the voice our very own Jo Lawry on a couple of tracks. The recording also features and was produced by the cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Expanding beyond a more traditional jazz recording, Vinson also adds synthersizers, percussion and even a string section to the mix, bluring the lines between acoustic and electronic improvisations.

Tracks in this feature

1. ‘Desolation Tango’
2. ‘Upside’
3. ‘Willoughby General’
4. ‘Skywriter’
5. ‘Intro to Limp of Faith’
6. ‘Limp of Faith’
9. ‘Stiltskin (Some Drunk Funk)
10. ‘Chalk It Up’
11. ‘The Clock Killer’
12. ‘Perfectly Out of Place’

All compositions by Will Vinson

Image: 5Passion Records/Jimmy Katz


Saxophonist/Composer WILL VINSON to Release PERFECTLY OUT OF PLACE


Jason Paul Harman Byrne
Saxophonist/Composer WILL VINSON to Release PERFECTLY OUT OF PLACE
Available May 6, 2016 on 5PassionFeaturing: Will Vinson (alto & soprano saxophones, synthesizers), Gonzalo Rubalcaba (piano, Fender Rhodes, synthesizers), Matt Penman (bass), Jeff Ballard (drums), Jo Lawry (vocal), Jamey Haddad (additional percussion on “Skyrider”) & The Mivos Quartet (Olivia De Prato, Joshua Modney: violins, Victor Lowrie: viola, Mariel Roberts: cello)iTunes Pre-Order – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/perfectly-out-of-place/id1099024599*******Perfectly Out of Place CD RELEASE PARTY*******
APRIL 26 – 7:30 & 9:30 PM
Will Vinson (saxophone), Mike Moreno (guitar), Shai Maestro (piano),
Matt Penman (bass), Jeff Ballard (drums)
www.jazzgallery.org”The first time I heard Will Vinson, I was totally blown away – so much so that I started trying to play alto again. An ill-fated attempt. But I’m still listening to Will every chance I get. And each time, I’m even more inspired, humbled, and, quite frankly, terrified.” – Joshua Redman”Marvelous … drills a hole through [the music], boxing like a sprightly Olympic welterweight” – DownBeat Magazine”Potent, big-toned alto saxophonist … exhilarating, cascading improvisations… Outstanding playing” – JazzTimes

“Spirited and uplifting… a leading force on his instrument” – All About Jazz

“Spectacular … adroit and sophisticated” – The Guardian

For Immediate Release: Alto saxophonist/composer Will Vinson possesses many gifts; incredible power, dramatic sensitivity, prodigious technique, and perhaps most importantly, a captivating sound that you want to hear again and again. John Fordham of The Guardian described a “superb solo of rugged leathery sounds turning into mellifluous high notes”, with “secure control and storming energy”. While JazzWise Magazine has said that Vinson has a knack for “combining a thoughtful originality of conception with energy and fluidity of execution in very satisfying proportions”. It is this abundance of qualities that has made Vinson a serious part of the conversation when talk turns towards modern jazz musicians who are playing and composing with a high level of originality and artistry. In addition to being an acclaimed bandleader with five recordings under his own name, Vinson is a member of several leading ensembles: Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s Quintet (appearing on the Grammy nominated albums Suite Caminos, and Charlie), Ari Hoenig’s Punk Bop and Nonet, Miguel Zenon’s Identities Orchestra (Grammy nominated for Identities are Changeable), and the much lauded OWL Trio (with Lage Lund and Orlando le Fleming). Vinson has also toured/recorded with Rufus Wainwright, Sufjan Stevens, Sean Lennon, Martha Wainwright, Beth Orton and Harper Simon.

Will Vinson is proud to announce the release of his debut recording for 5Passion and his sixth overall, Perfectly Out of Place, featuring an all-star group comprised of Mike Moreno on guitar, Gonzalo Rubalcaba on piano, Matt Penman on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums. Perfectly Out of Place follows a string of inspired albums from Vinson: It’s For You (Sirocco Jazz, 2004, “an auspicious debut, an album that is as mature in its conception as it is in its execution” – The NYC Jazz Record, formerly AAJ New York), Promises (NineteenEight Records, described as “impressive” and “coolly restrained” by Nate Chinen of The New York Times), The World (Through My Shoes) (a live recording called “marvelous” by DownBeat Magazine and “exhilarating, cascading … outstanding” by JazzTimes), Stockholm Syndrome (2010, Criss Cross Records), and Live at Smalls (2013), one of the most successful albums on the Smalls Live label.

With Perfectly Out of Place Vinson felt ambitious. This album contains more-than-usual through-composed music from the saxophonist’s pen, and also marks his first use of overdubs, synthesizers, vocals and strings. His aim was to enhance and augment his Quintet’s sound (featured on Vinson’s previous five albums) that many fans and critics have come to know and love. Vinson elaborated in the album’s liner notes, “It was an exciting prospect for me, but one that was made challenging by the stubborn insistence of everyone in the band on making everything sound immediately perfect and unimprovable . . . you get what you pay for, I suppose. I’ve tried to add without inadvertently taking away, and I hope you feel it’s been a success.” He added, “The entirety of this project, from the music’s conception in the mountains of Banff, Alberta; through the joyous session at Avatar (to my knowledge the world’s greatest recording studio), has been a thrill. One that I’d be happy to go through again, if it weren’t for the fact that this record is now complete and in the hands of the most important person in the process, the listener.”

Vinson’s collaborators on Perfectly Out of Place include four of the world’s most extraordinary improvising musicians, Mike Moreno, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Matt Penman and Jeff Ballard. “Their importance to this project cannot be overstated, each one of them being irreplaceable. It’s fair to say that my personal aesthetic identity would not be quite what it is without the influence of these masters over the past (gulp) two decades,” said Vinson. The saxophonist also felt exceptionally fortunate to be able to enlist Jamey Haddad (heard on “Skyrider”), Jo Lawry (heard on “Desolation Tango” & “Skyrider”), and the Mivos Quartet (heard on “Desolation Tango”, “Skyrider”, “Intro to Limp of Faith”) to contribute to this project. “Jamey’s vibe and generosity of spirit are legendary, and his playing joyous and infectious. It’s hard to think of anyone other than Jo who would have the chops, not to mention relished the challenge, to achieve what was asked of her in this recording. I first heard Mivos right at the time I was beginning to consider using strings on this project. They performed Steve Reich’s Different Trains and completely blew me away”, said Vinson.

On Perfectly Out of Place, the listener gets unadulterated “Will Vinson music”; which not only means playing and composing that combines a great knowledge and respect for the century-long jazz tradition, with explorations into the rhythmic, harmonic and melodic realms of contemporary forms, but this artist’s brilliant vision brought to life with great skill and unmitigated passion.

Tracks: 1. Desolation Tango, 2. Upside, 3. Willoughby General, 4. Skyrider, 5. Intro To Limp of Faith, 6. Limp of Faith, 7. Stiltskin (Some Drunk Funk), 8. Chalk It Up, 9. The Clock Killer, 10. Perfectly Out of Place

All compositions by Will Vinson. Produced by Will Vinson and Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Press Enquiries on Will Vinson & Perfectly Out of Place:
Please Contact: Jason Paul Harman Byrne at Red Cat Publicity
Tel 646 259 2105, Email Redcatjazz@mac.com


Perfectly Out of Place (5Passion Records)
Will Vinson

Live at Smalls (Smalls Live)
Will Vinson

The Brooklyn-based saxophonist and composer Will Vinson has been giving away his music for some time now.

By that, I’m referring to the sheet music for many of his fresh and appealing tunes, which are available for download by clicking the “scores” tab at willvinson.com/live.

If you’re like me, you’ll ultimately compare your paltry efforts to the sounds of Vinson and his peers, either in video clips on on Vinson’s albums, and you’ll ask yourself, “How do they make those dots and chord symbols sound so amazing?”

The two compositions heard in the above clip, which features Vinson on piano and alto saxophone joined by guitarist Lage Lund, bassist and (Montreal expat) Rick Rosato and drummer Jochen Rueckert, also appear on Vinson’s latest disc, Perfectly Out of Place, which was released Friday.

The new album is an ambitious affair that adds layers of sound — in various places a string quartet, keyboard padding and vocals or percussion — to the bare-bones sheet music. It’s a lofty, diverse collection of Vinson compositions that succeeds vividly while venturing in multiple musical directions.

With Vinson on the album is the elite rhythm section of pianist/keyboardist Gonzalo Rubalcaba (the record label’s principal and the co-producer of the album along with Vinson), guitarist Mike Moreno, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Jeff Ballard. Vinson could have made a different but still wonderful record with this group. But the sonic scope for his album is more expansive, with three tracks bolstered by the Mivos Quartet, while vocalist Jo Lawry contributes to two tracks and percussionist Jamey Haddad to one.

The disc begins with strings bringing in the sombre and even baleful piece Desolation Tango, signalling that Perfectly Out of Place is a disc unlike Vinson’s previous small ensemble releases. Upside, the track that follows, is the second piece heard on the YouTube clip above, beginning just before the 12-minute mark. It’s a springy, swinging, rough-and-tumble tune, with the modern tandem of guitar and saxophone stating the melody before Vinson’s demonstrates his surging power as a soloist. Swelling keyboard chords deftly add extra colour to the tautly designed track.

Willoughby General is a slow, affecting, soulful ballad distinguished by Rubalcaba’s switch to Fender Rhodes and lucid, touching solos by Penman, Moreno and Vinson.

All hands are on deck for Vinson’s long, soaring, Maria Schneider-esque piece Skyrider, an epic that features not only the rich exhortations of the strings and Haddad’s percussion, but also Lawry playing a critical role, going so far as to double Vinson’s passionate, swerving soprano saxophone solo.

Limp of Faith is an austere two-parter, beginning with some melancholy writing for strings and moving to a duet for Vinson on alto saxophone and Rubalcaba on piano.

The next track is something of a 180-degree turn, with Vinson and company moving into electrified funk mode on Stiltskin (Some Drunk Funk), nodding to the groove and sound of funky ’70s jazz fusion.

The sophisticated Chalk It Up is airy and pretty, with lots of ear-catching notes in its lyrical melody. The Clock Killer is a charging, stops-out tune.

The 11-minute title track, the first of the two quartet pieces in the YouTube clip, is even more broad and epic on the album. Bass, then piano and then Vinson on alto saxophone patiently and spaciously state the melody, before focused, deep-diving solos by Vinson and then Rubalcaba over the song’s concise form.

Perfectly Out Of Place is a grand, imaginative listen from start to finish, delighting with rigor in its compositions and arrangements and abandon in its playing.

Previously, in 2013, to be precise, Vinson released Live At Smalls, featuring seven tracks played by his quintet at the storied New York jazz club. It’s an urgent and compelling companion piece to the more burnished studio product of Perfectly Out Of Place.

The band on the live disc includes guitarist Lage Lund, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Marcus Gilmore — another set of A-list contemporaries who can make the Vinson’s music thrilling when they bring it to life.

Live At Smalls and Perfectly Out Of Place share one tune in common — the hard-thrashing The Clock Killer, which commandingly opens the live album and includes wide-roaming, coursing solos Vinson, Parks and Lund. Second in the order is Star Of Greece, a sweet, shimmering, lilting ballad with accessibly ascending yet sophisticated harmonies. Here’s a video version of that composition, featuring Vinson on the piano bench:

On the album, there’s a warm, fetching solo by Lund and a triumphal turn by Vinson on alto saxophone.

There are three more Vinson pieces explored at length, including the dark, edgy closer Abermarle.

The disc also consists of two choice covers. A loose, off-the-cuff version of Benny Golson’s Stablemates shows that for all the modernity of Vinson’s original music, he and his peers are well-versed enthusiasts when it comes to the jazz canon. There’s also a duet version of Duke Ellington’s Morning Glory, an underplayed tune graciously played by Lund and Vinson. (They also recorded it, along with bassist Orlando le Fleming, on the 2013 album OWL Trio.)

You might get the impression from the videos alone that Vinson and his bandmates have had enough reps of his compositions to get thoroughly inside them, mastering their written niceties and also improvising with gusto and elegance, individually and collectively. Live At Smalls has all of these qualities in spades, with exceptional material prompting dazzling, real-time music-making from some of the best players in contemporary jazz.

Of course, Vinson’s not giving these albums away, as he is his sheet music. They are, it should go without saying, well worth purchasing.



ALBUM REVIEW: “Perfectly out of Place”




Saxophonist Will Vinson, a London native, has been a force on the New York City scene since 1999, playing with jazz artists like Kurt Rosenwinkel and Chris Potter, and pop singers like Rufus Wainwright and Sufjan Stevens. Over the years, he’s recorded five albums showcasing his excellent playing and compositions, but his new CD, “Perfectly out of Place,” is different. Vinson has broadened his scope in terms of compositions and arrangements.

Vinson’s excellent band — Gonzalo Rubalcaba, piano; Mike Moreno, guitar; Matt Penman, bass; and Jeff Ballard, drums — is still here. But he has added (to various tracks) the wordless vocals of Jo Lawry, the percussion of Jamey Haddad, and strings in the form of The Mivos Quartet. The result is an album that lives up to its great ambitions. Some of the tunes, notably “Chalk It Up,” showcase Vinson’s soaring soprano sax in a fusion-like setting. Others, like “Desolation Tango” and “Skyrider,” cross over into a gorgeous, semi-classical territory while retaining a contemporary edge. — BY RON NETSKY


The Australian – John McBeath – 

Will Vinson


4.5 stars

This is New York saxophonist Will Vinson’s sixth recording as a leader, where his 10 originals utilise groups from duo to 12-piece, using his quintet plus overdubs, synthesisers, vocals and strings — firsts for Vinson. Vinson gives high praise to the foundation musicians of his quintet, with whom he’s been playing for two decades: guitarist Mike Moreno, pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, drummer Jeff Ballard and Matt Penman on bass. This collection incorporates wonderful musical design and, as Vinson says, he’s explored writing music that is “a touch more through-composed” than his previous work. He introduces additional sounds to the quintet: astute overdubs, the Mivos Quartet, vocalist Jo Lawry and percussionist Jamey Haddad. The Mivos Quartet begins the opener, Desolation Tango, in an untango-like semiclassical, pastoral passage, soon joined by restrained guitar notes and Vinson’s passionate soprano sax in a romantically desolate mood. The superb duo of piano and alto traverses an almost tempo-less Limp of Faith, with each player excelling in solo and duet. An exhilarating up-tempo Upside with a memorable post-bop theme lifts off with Vinson’s racing alto underscored by guitar, Rubalcaba’s always imaginative piano and Ballard’s clever stick work. The musicians reassemble for a powerful Skyrider, travelling forcefully with strings weaving around the quintet and its members’ solos, plus Lawry’s amazing wordless vocals. This is a highly artistic album of admirable, varied compositions and skilled musicianship.

John McBeath


The Irish Times

Will Vinson: Perfectly Out of Place review

Cormac Larkin

Over the past two decades, London-born New York-resident saxophonist Will Vinson has become one of the more interesting sidemen on the US scene, with that elusive balance of sweet and sour in his playing, but for his sixth solo release, it’s Vinson the composer and band leader that comes to the fore, with a set of cleverly sinuous originals designed to draw the best from his fellow musicians.

It helps when your collaborators are some of the most fearless and inventive improvisers on the US scene, including pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Jeff Ballard, but even in this company, it is Vinson who shines, both for the originality of the ideas, and the warmth and feeling with which he expresses them.