The Seven Deadly Sins comprises some of the most monumental music to have been composed and recorded in quite some time.
— RAUL D'GAMA ROSE, April 2011, All About Jazz
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Best Releases of 2011, Highlighting sophisticated new developments in composition and improvisation.
— Troy Collins December 2011, All About Jazz
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Point of Departure
It’s an interesting coincidence that the most recent composer to address the Seven Deadly Sins, Joseph Daley, is, as was Russo, a brass player (tuba and trombone) with extensive big band experience. He’s recorded with ensembles led by Gil Evans, Carla Bley, Edward Vesala, Sam Rivers, George Gruntz, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Taj Mahal among others – an amazing wealth of writing styles from which to learn. But there’s an interesting twist to Daley’s program; he was drawn to the subject and inspired by a sequence of SDS paintings by Wade Schuman (reproduced in the booklet accompanying the recording, and bonus documentary DVD, newly issued on Jaro Records). Schuman’s artwork, done in the ‘90s, is a fantasy blend of Bosch detail and Magritte vision – unusual animals and/or insects representing each transgression. Just as the pictorial symbolism sparked Daley’s imagination, his first-hand familiarity with the colors and textures of the big band, based on a solid harmonic foundation from the bottom (brass) up, fueled his musical response. His writing style has a fluidity and poise reminiscent of Oliver Nelson’s, and he likes to set a groove and let it percolate. Like Russo, Daley handpicked his players, but allows them more solo space, and is amply rewarded. Programmatically, his characterizations may be more literal that Russo’s, but they display a distinctive musical point-of-view.
For example, there’s more than a bit of wit at play, largely due to Daley’s deft manipulation of tonal colors. “Gluttony” begins with tuba, sarrusophone, contrabass clarinet, and bass trombone groaning and muttering – an overburdened digestive tract at work? – and evolving into Brazilian rhythms launched by an active percussion section. “Anger” confronts a jagged melody with abrupt, aggressive comments; its uncontrollable energy results in instruments shooting off in different directions. For “Sloth,” Scott Robinson’s bass sax sings a bloated lament, joined by low, drifting, clotted chords. “Pride” features an exotic, Scheherazade-like melody divided between soprano saxophone, massed trumpets, vibes, and harmonica, with a mellow canonic interlude. “Lust,” more than twice as long as any of the other movements, builds section by section, with a scorching Lew Soloff trumpet solo that galvanizes the other trumpets into free polyphony, blustery tuba from Bob Stewart, bristling piano (Onaje Allan Gumbs) and vibes (Warren Smith) counterpoint , and Benjamin F. Brown’s bass soliloquy. Impressive, vibrant music, from start to finish. But that’s not the whole story. As an addendum, Daley includes the extended composition Ballade of the Fallen African Warrior, dedicated to his late brother Winston. The Oliver Nelson connection is even more applicable here – attractive, accessible melodies developed in thoughtful, lively ways. He combines noble brass themes, Latin rhythms, a cathartic outcry of horns, invigorating solos (note especially Gumbs’ piano and Vincent Chancey’s French horn), and contrasting moods into a cohesive whole with a joyous, yet pensive, conclusion – a subtle reflection on the complexity of the human spirit. Likewise, if Daley’s Seven Deadly Sins aren’t intended to save one’s soul, they are diverting portraits of human foibles and wondrous strange behavior, just as tempting and seductive, if not as deadly, as they once seemed.
— Art Lange, Point of Departure Issue 34 - April 2011
Joseph Daley, The Seven Deadly Sins (JARO)
It’s not a Kurt Weill adaptation but Tuba player Joseph Daley, member of the slightly different New York blues band Hazmat Modine adapted paintings by his colleague Wade Shuman and transformed them fascinatingly into a Jazz Suite.
As a passionate low tone player, he prescribed particular earthiness to his Earth Tone Ensemble and features instruments like the euphonium, sarrusaphone and bass clarinet.
The result is Big band music of an exceptional sound concept which favors -with all its powers- subtle moments a la Gil Evans and also rewards itself with musical journeys to Africa.
— Detlef Kinsler, Journal Frankfurt
The further the notes are descending into the depth, the darker their sound becomes. More and more undefined vibrations emerge until it seems as if the entire ground, the entire earth starts to shake. Since years, Joe Daley is an expert for low notes. In the bands of Gil Evans or Carla Bley or in the New York based band Hazmat Modine, he plays baritone horn, euphonium, trombone and tuba - all of them way low. With The Seven Deadly Sins, his composition for the Earth Tone Ensemble - a strangely instrumented big band with contrabass clarinet, contrabass saxophone, bass trombone and up to five tubas - he fulfills his dream. In direct contact with the ground, he prepares a lusciously vibrating panorama of sin: Envy, Avarice, Gluttony, Pride, Lust, Anger and Sloth - a fitting slander for every mood. Then, in the high ranges, everything is possible: in the highly refined sections as well as in the solos, Daley’s collaborators explore all the possibilities of their music with audible pleasure. In a panorama view, the Earth Tone Ensemble stages the genre big band from its beginnings as street bands all the way to its ecstasies of free jazz. A cesspool of sin, that doesn’t sound immoral at all.
— Stefan Hentz, Dec. 16th 2010 Die Zeit No. 51, Pg. 56
Downtown Music Gallery
Over the past couple of years I have been
concentrating recordings by large jazz ensembles
from the past and present. Nowadays these
ensembles are pretty rare, although it is great
to see Maria Schneider, Darcy James Argue, Dave
Liebman and Steve Bernstein get some well
deserved recognition. The disc below contains
some of the best large jazz ensemble writing and
playing I've heard in recent memory...
[JOE] JOSEPH DALEY EARTH TONE ENSEMBLE With MARTY
EHRLICH/HOWARD JOHNSON/LEW SOLOFF/GARY
VALENTE/CRAIG S HARRIS/BOB STEWART/VINCENT
CHANCEY/ONAJE ALLAN GUMBS/WARREN SMITH/SATOSHI
TAKEISHI et al - The Seven Deadly Sins [CD + DVD]
(Jaro 4302/03; Germany) [While supplies last,
you will receive a BONUS DVD [20 minutes] of the
film of The Seven Deadly Sins by Robert O'Haire &
"Joe Daley is a low-end brass specialist who
plays tuba & euphonium and is a fine composer. As
a leader, his albums are few although he has
worked with other large ensembles of Carla Bley,
Gil Evans, Sam Rivers & Charlie Haden's
Liberation Music Orchestra. This is Mr. Daley
first recording in many years and it is a most
ambitious endeavor. The Earth Tones Ensemble
features 23 members plus a handful of guests. The
soloists include Marty Ehrlich, Howard Johnson &
Scott Robinson on reeds, Lew Soloff, Stanton
Davis & Eddie Allen on trumpets, Bob Stewart,
Vincert Chancey, Craig Harris & Reut Regev on
low-end brass plus a most impressive rhythm team
of Onaje Allan Gumbs on piano, Benjamin Brown on
basses and Warren Smith, Satoshi Takeishi and
others on percussion.
When I finally got a chance to listen to this
entire disc earlier this week, I was completely
knocked out. All of the music was composed &
conducted by Joe Daley and inspired by The Seven
Deadly Sins paintings by Wade Schuman, as well as
another long piece called "Ballade of the Fallen
African Warrior". "The Seven Deadly Sins" is a
seven part suite. The music is warm with
well-conceived autumnal colors. The harmonies for
the reeds and brass are rich and often
breathtaking. A number of solos stand out, like
Howard Johnson's luscious & haunting bari sax on
"Avarita" or Mark Taylor's French horn on
"Superbia". Since Mr. Daley is a low-end
specialist his writing for those low-end horns
like tuba, sarrusophone, contrabass clarinet &
bass trombone is extraordinary. Another highlight
is the five man percussion section which is often
utilized for their orchestral colors and
textures, not just rhythmic capabilities. Mr.
Daley has a great way of combining the past with
the present as far as the sound of this ensemble
and the legacy they have drawn from. On "Lechery"
those growling horns reach back to the early days
of Ellingtonia which has got to bring a smile to
our faces. Pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs is a name
I've heard in many years (since the seventies)
and he is in especially fine form here
interacting impressively with Warren Smith's
inventive vibes. The final suite is called
"Ballade for a Fallen African Warrior" and it is
dedicated to to Joseph's late brother Winston.
This piece involves complex layers of brass,
reeds and rhythm team work, as well as some
especially elegant sections. Considering it is
only the first week of the New Year (2011), we
are already have an early (best of) winner for
this splendid masterwork."
— Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
Whenever there are special tasks in the terrain of low notes, you most likely find tuba player Joe Daley involved. In a quartet with Howard Johnson, Bob Stewart and Earle McIntyre he once accompanied blues singer Taj Mahal; the four met again in Johnsons Gravity project; at one point or another every one of them was a member in the big bands of Gil Evans, Carla Bley, Charlie Haden or George Gruntz.
Naturally, Joe (as he is known) Daley called the old tuba comrades when he was able to fulfill his dream of a big band, specializing in the low tone area. With more than 25 members – sometimes including up to five tubas, two French Horns, exotic low wind instruments like the bass- and contrabass saxophone and the Sarrusaphone and a seven piece rhythm section – the earth tone Ensemble isn’t just obviously bigger than every other big band but truly earthly grounded.
Like magma, the notes bubble from the depth – if not to say: from hell as Joe Daley dedicated the main composition on this album to sin. He translated “The Seven Deadly Sins” a cycle of paintings by Wade Schuman into modern jazz for orchestra. Schuman, who is also the leader of the unique New York-Klezmer-Folk-Blues-Balkan-Brass-Band Hazmat Modine knows the symbolic world of paintings by Hieronymus Bosch as Daley -also a band member of Hazmat Modine- knows the traditions of orchestral jazz. In reference to the rough ones, the cross-grained among these traditions, Daley creates joyful, even lustful music in form of a seven part suite. But lust- isn’t that one of the seven deadly sins?
—Berthold Klostermann, Fono Forum
Joseph Daley is new in the business as well. (I assume the writer means as a big band leader, referring to another review) The tuba player of the band Hazmat Modine who was part of ground braking big band formations like Gil Evans, Carla Bley and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Orchestra in the 70ties, now realized his livelong dream for his own big band recording. His 25 piece orchestra, to which he added 4 guests, produces mostly sounds- as the title proclaims- from the deepest core of the earth. (Joseph Daley Earth Tones Ensemble “The Seven Deadly Sins”, Jaro 4303) The instruments of the lowest bass range like the rarely seen or heard bass giants: contra bass clarinet, contra bass saxophone, sousaphone, bass trombone, euphonium, and last but not least tuba are providing the tonal center upon which the other instruments are added.
The two part album comes with a DVD containing the same titles. One halve of the recording contains 7 pieces portraying the seven deadly sins using a mixture of Blues, Klezmer, Jazz and Rock. Painter Wade Schuman, who is also the leader of Hazmat Modine provided the paintings of the 7 deadly sins.
With the almost 30 min long “Ballad of the fallen African Warrior”, Joseph Daley commemorates the loss of his brother on the other half of the recording. The “Earth tone ensemble” arose from a successful experiment, which will unlikely be heard in a life concert setting.
Low-tone-legend Joseph Daley, who works since the 70ties with all groundbreaking big bands, now presents a truly great formation himself. Off course, his preference for low wind instruments finds its expression in his extended big band” Earth Tones Ensemble”: not only are there seats for baritone saxophone, bass trombone and tuba, but also bass - and contra bass saxophone, contra bass clarinet and the rarely played sousaphone are added.
The magnificent compositions are at times very personal, but also as the “Seven Deadly Sins” programmatically inclined. Joe Daley impressively transforms the fantastic paintings of Painter and Hazmat Modine collaborator Wade Schuman into music.
It is an unusual CD, reminiscent of great projects by Charles Mingus or Gil Evans and it certainly expands the path for the orchestral big band.
In addition, there is a DVD documenting the studio production and including interviews.
—Raoul Herget, Concerto, Jan 2011