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Michael Oien’s And Now suggests a certain type of sound: It gives the impression of an ECM project, or perhaps a reunion of the Metheny/Mehldau Quartet. Instead, it’s a prelude to a diverse set of pieces that Oien has written over the years. The bassist’s debut album begins with delicate playing from pianist Jamie Reynolds, which is colored in by deeply felt passages from guitarist Matthew Stevens and subtle brushwork from drummer Eric Doob. Steadily, Oien’s thoughtfully placed notes emerge. Using an alternative approach, the bandleader starts off “Skol” unaccompanied, with a sonorous tone and an infectious groove that later propels alto saxophonist Nick Videen’s sinewy lines. Doob is given a super-sized solo in which he glides with flowing tom-tom accents. The three-part “Dreamer” suite is an ambitious contribution to this album. “Part I” could be interpreted as waking from sleep, with Videen’s plaintive wailing, Doob’s hazy cymbals and Stevens’ ghost-like guitar effects in full play. “Part II” quickly transitions from a freewheeling group escape to a slower, more carefree romp, and “Part III” brings everything together with a searching yet life-affirming strut.”  -DownBeat (Yoshi Kato)

 

huffington-post-7d4d93435debfc16ce63314b0dbc59d8“A hidden gem…Oien engages his listener in a complete artistic statement through an entirely original album…With panache and grace, the band as a whole (Michael Oien, leader and bass: Nick Videen, alto: Matthew Stevens, guitarist: Jamie Reynolds, pianist: Eric Doob, drums) effortlessly moves from one track to the next creating a certain kind of mystic atmosphere within every composition…Oien is certainly one of the musicians that has the ability to shape jazz for future audiences. There’s this relative sound that tears through his music…you can hear the natural composer from start to finish.”  -The Huffington Post (Cicily Janus)

 

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“After a decade spent on the New York scene, Oien is finally stepping out of the shadows and into the light… And Now is a great work of art, showcasing a bassist-leader on the rise.”  – All About Jazz (Dan Bilawsky)

“Leading a smoking and very tight quintet consisting of Matthew Stevens on guitars, alto saxophonist Nick Videen, pianist Jamie Reynolds and Eric Doob on drums, Oien impresses with the gift of memorable melodies (even hooks!), driving rhythms and architectural arrangements. And Now is a tantalizing mix of the extroverted and the personal; it is music to be felt, and which will raise the spirits of anyone who listens.”  -All About Jazz (Budd Kopman)  

 

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The opening is strongly reminiscent of Paul Motian in his ECM days, something off Conception Vessel perhaps, with guitar, bass and exquisitely restrained brushes. It’s a brave way to start an album that then immediately goes up a gear with the almost highlife line of Skol. Oien started out as an electric bass player and that background is still evident in the intro to that infectious second track. The Motian connection doesn’t fall down when Videen starts to play. He projects differently to Carlos Ward, but the spare, declamatory style is very similar. He’s also terrific on Ask Anyone. Laplante only comes in for one track, the prog-tinged Mad to Live, but it’s stolen by Stevens, who exchanges his acoustic for a cranked-up solid-body sound. Even the composer admits that the multi-part Dreamer is both unfinished and slightly overwrought. I suspect a club performance would find some interesting variants in it and perhaps a more pleasingly ragged approach to what sounds a bit mannered here. It’s clever writing though and the individual elements are great. Doob is immense throughout, easing between full-on tub-thumping to the barely stated delicacy of the opener, but always musical whatever the dynamic. It ends with a lovely, minimal solo bass version of the old Bahamian cradle song All My Trials. Leaving the leader’s main feature to last will fool no one. He’s in charge of all of this music, which is full of bustling personality and intelligence. -Jazz Journal (Brian Morton)

“His debut as a leader is impactful… a splendid introduction to the music and vision of Michael Oien.”  – Step Tempest (Richard Kamins)

“After 10 years of flying under the radar on the New York jazz scene, bassist Michael Oien has emerged as a leader, prodigious composer and potent improviser on his long overdue debut, And Now.”  –Bill Milkowski

“An exceptional bassist with a large tone and an advanced style…an impressive debut for Michael Oien, both as a bassist and as a composer.”  -Scott Yanow

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“[Michael Oien] has a strong, tasty debut record, And Now, out on the Fresh Sound/New Talent label, leading an excellent band that includes Travis Laplante, Jamie Reynolds, and Matthew Stevens.”  -The Brooklyn Rail (George Grella)

“beautiful bass work…as refreshing as the earliest jazz I ever listened to (Charlie Haden, way back in the early days)…each player shines on their solo part. Eight originals and one traditional folk song are vibrant and full of the light that jazz can (and should) be for the listener…simply great jazz that deserves to be spinning (over & over again) on your playlists..”  -Improvijazzation Nation (Dick Metcalf)

“[And Now] mixes the tradition with forward thinking…mature and clever post bop sounds.”  -George W. Harris (Jazz Weekly)

Sets a new standard…skillfully played and written, jazz has a welcome new voice coming in over the transom.   -The Midwest Record (Chris Spector)

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