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Metalwood “3” – Music Reviews

Canada’s own contemporary electric jazz and-funk oriented band is filled with exceptionally talented musicians and between them, they have a dozen or so album credits. They have won numerous awards of late and caught positive attention from critics around the globe.

Metalwood (Maximum Jazz) won the 1998 Canadian Juno Award (equivalent to the U.S. Grammy) for Best Contemporary Jazz Recording for their first self-titled record and repeated the same exploit with the release of their 1999 album Metalwood II (Maximum Jazz).

They were also voted Best Electric Group of 1999 by Jazz Report magazine for the second year in a row. They won the 1998 and 1999 West Coast Music Award in the Best Jazz Album, Musician, Producer and Live Performance of the year category. And to top it off, won the Best Engineer Award in 1998.

If you are like me and enjoy funky grooves and improvisations by great musicians who go the extra mile with an “in-your-face” attitude, you owe it to yourselves in getting this remarkable CD.

Rarely can you find an album where every track is good and keeps on getting better as you listen to the whole CD. This is by far an exceptional recording. I couldn’t get enough of track 5, “Time Being” where Mike Murley’s sax playing is powerful, Brad Turner on Fender Rhodes gives it the extra finesse and you can also hear him on trumpet throughout the CD, Chris Tarry’s fretless bass is excellent (I’ll talk about this guy in a minute) and drummer Ian Froman, well….eh…this guy can play people!

Froman is a Berklee graduate and has a Master Degree from the New England Conservatory. He has studied with none other than the great Elvin Jones and others as well. To name a few, he has played with John Abercrombie, Kenny Wheeler and Mike Stern. He has credentials as a Berklee professor and at Drummers Collective in New York.

Endorsements include Vic Firth, Remo Heads (clear ambassadors), Sonor Drums and Paiste Cymbals. Froman has helped develop the new 20″ medium-heavy ride cymbal sound.

Ian has recorded several albums, has toured Europe and has worked over ten years with Tommy Smith and Ahmad Mansour. You can hear his impressive playing with tenor and soprano sax great Rick Margitza (Miles Davis) on the recently released “Heart of Hearts” on Palmetto Records. See below for more on this recording.

Froman is a fine-tuned drummer and can play with what I like to call in-your-face-attitude. Trust me, this guy is right up there with the great ones. He has that Peter Erskine and Steve Gadd sound but, at the same time, finds his own signature.

The opening track, “Isthmus of Drum” (love that tight popping snare sound Ian) is a testament to Froman’s ability to attack his kit with intensity and well-executed independence, chops, technique and speed. He loves to play the whole kit and his performance on this CD is high in energy, controlled and you can feel he plays with assurance. Listen closely to his cymbal work especially on tracks 10 “Bombergirl” and track 11 “Mr. Willis”. Also, check out his laid back brush playing on track 7 “Will I Dream”. One can sense that his technique allows his playing to be loose and free.

I just love this CD…Track 2 is such a great groove and has that Yellowjacket thing to it. “Moorocks”, track 4, is an imaginary voyage that takes you on a journey. It is too short but I am sure live, this piece gets some serious attention from the audience.

Also impressive was Chris Tarry on bass. Listen to track 6 “KGB”, it has an Alain Caron (Uzeb) feel to it. Just imagine Uzeb with a sax player. Chris is a serious bass player to be reckoned with and for that matter, the whole band is fantastic.

Contemporary Jazz, electric fusion, excellent grooves and simply put, extraordinary musicians make out “Metalwood”.

For more insight on bios, touring, and other CDs surf to www.metalwood.com

Rick Margitza “Heart of Hearts”
Drums: Ian Froman

Pure and straight-ahead jazz is what you’ll hear on this recent Palmetto Records release. Tenor and soprano sax player Rick Margitza (Miles Davis) is sure to grab you with his original material (5) and renditions of such talents as Legrand, Bergman, Corea and Potter, to name just a few.

His originals can be heard on tracks 2, 3, 4, 9 and 10. His band features Joey Calderazzo on piano, Scott Colley on bass and Ian Froman on drums. The band really burns on tracks 2, 5, 7, 9.

Ian Froman is definitely a virtuoso. Study his playing on tracks 1, 2, 5, and 7. I just can’t say enough about this great drummer. Remember the name because he’s a legend in the making…..

Froman is a drummer’s drummer and last year at the “Montreal International Drum Festival”, you could hear drummers and musicians alike talk about him between clinics and performances. A must for drummers…..this guy deserves a lot more press…