A Room Forever
Wire Magazine (Stewart Smith)
Irwin and his fellow players constantly surprise and delight. Through their subtle application of leftfield approaches, they reveal the strain of Weird America running through the project.
International Clarinet Association (Joseph Howell)
Throughout his discography, his entire conception as a bandleader and improviser is very thoughtful and musical. His improvised solos rarely if ever rely on the familiar saxophonist habits of machine-gunned, patterned lines, staying faithful to the overall composition and mood of the material he is interpreting. His clarinet sound is beautiful and though one would not doubt his awareness of the legacies of such recent jazz clarinet personalities as Eddie Daniels and Don Byron, his approach is all his own. Perhaps being primarily a saxophonist and composer of more recent New York jazz trends has aided his having a different approach, with an outsider’s perspective. In any case, he has put in the time to develop a great ‘classical’ tone and facility on the clarinet and is no slouch on the instrument itself. Clarinet and jazz circles alike, today, often say they want to hear something new, something different. If that is truly the case, I strongly recommend listening to Aaron Irwin’s A Room Forever. It is not only different; it is beautiful.
The New York City Jazz Record (Donald Elfman)
Irwin has created a work of gorgeous delicacy, large in scope yet intimate, adventurous but straightforward melodically and harmonically. Turn to any piece and you will find a constancy of purpose, which also allows for true distinctiveness. And Irwin and his cohorts truly understand space. This is a session where the musicians have listened deeply to each other and play in a way suggesting all have had a part in the project’s evolution. Each piece is nuanced and individual but also a part of the overall world of the stories.
Sensible Reason (Andie Castillo)
Irwin’s highly stylized music creates sonic landscapes that can best be described as a mixture of American folk music, avant-garde jazz and pastoral elements of classical music. Each of the following pieces takes the listener on a different journey sometimes soaring, as Matt McDonald’s elegant trombone playing does in The Way It Has to Be, and sometimes sweetly reflecting, as does Irwin’s homey clarinet playing on Trilobites. The chamber music-like instrumentation quickly draws the listener into each fragile and nuanced musical world, full of space and detail as in The First Day of Winter, which features the remarkable bass work by Thomson Kneeland. Guitarist Pete McCann has much to say on the dark and jarring Time and Again. The album ends with the wonderful piece, The Mark, which leaves the listener seemingly suspended in air wanting more and grateful for the pleasure of the journey.
Bird Is The Worm (Dave Sumner)
This striking album by clarinetist Irwin captures the ear with its captivating melodies, but the alluring ambiance developed from the melodic introduction is what cinches this as top-shelf music. Irwin bottled up moonlight on this one.
The Big City Blog
The sound is an appealing Americana of the mind—this isn’t folk or roots music, but all the tracks sound like something that might be made on the porch or in the parlor. A quiet record that leaves a lingering impression.
All About Jazz (Bud Kopman)
The balance between the composed and improvised is finely wrought, making the line between them virtually invisible, with the only giveaway being larger structure which is uses the familiar recapitulation…The cumulative effect of A Room Forever is a quiet intensity, almost an eavesdropping of a private conversation. Emotionally complex while being aurally transparent, the music ends up feeling like an long-gone acquaintance who has been missed, but whose newly-found presence is immediately comfortable. Strange, but wonderful.
Jazz Journal (Gary Booth)
Irwin and the guys achieve the perfect balance, making eery, Twilit music that lingers long in the mind. An understated little gem.
Christian Science Monitor
Alto saxophonist and composer Aaron Irwin shines in his latest CD, Ordinary Lives. For anyone who treasures the elegant line of the solo sax, this album is a lovely treat. It showcases original tunes that work with the simple elegance of well-done ensemble acoustic music.
Time Out New York
Aaron Irwin, a postbop altoist whose compositions successfully embody a sophisticated-pop sensibility, gigs in support of his engaging latest, Ordinary Lives.
New York Times (Chinen)
The poised young alto saxophonist Aaron Irwin has a new album, “Ordinary Lives,” that showcases his affinity for the melodic sweep of indie-rock, among other things.
Just when you think you know what direction Aaron Irwin is going to aim for, he throws you a brilliant curve ball. Melodic and expressive above all, Ordinary Lives delivers the kind of musical jolt we can all use these days.
Plays the Music of Rufus Wainwright
Finally, where Vicious World Plays The Music of Rufus Wainwright really succeeds is how well it puts across Wainwright’s elegant music to a listening audience that may well know little or nothing about the singer/songwriter. It’s almost certain, however, that many will want to check out Wainwright’s music after hearing this CD.
JazzTimes (Bill Milkowski)
This inventive New York based septet interprets material by the singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright with some surprising results. Violinist Eliza Cho and cellist Maria Jeffers create mesmerizing accompaniment alongside Frisell-ian guitarist Sebastian Noelle.
NewMusicBox.org (Molly Sheridan)
Irwin [and McDonald] have assembled a sort of jazz chamber ensemble consisting of himself (saxophone/clarinet/flute), Matt McDonald (trombone), Sebastian Noelle (guitar), Thomson Kneeland (bass), Danny Fisher (drums), Eliza Cho (violin), and Maria Jeffers, (cello). The resulting performances add a new timbral palette and tight, well-considered improvisations into the mix. As an album, the tracks hang together as a beautiful songbook, contemporary without ever feeling gimmicky. Most importantly, perhaps, these musicians succeed in selling their argument that the source material for new standards is rich and waiting.
The gripping insights and revelations that flow from the CD: Vicious World – Plays the Music of Rufus Wainright; Wainright’s prodigious abilities and genius as a lyrical songwriter, which have led to a comparison with the preeminent America songwriter, Cole Porter, insist that his work and that of Vicious World, be examined carefully, and taken very seriously.
Wainwright’s music never lets too much light (or lightness) in, and Vicious World’s probing solos and clever arrangements create a canvas from multiple shades of darkness. Let’s just say the septet is moved to musical tears by the singer/songwriter’s earnest melodies and bittersweet harmonies.
Blood And Thunder
Downbeat Magazine ***1/2 (John Ephland) Jan. 2009
This smart set of tunes balances alto and tenor with guitar in some great musical conversations.
Jazz Times Magazine (Bill Milkowski) Dec. 2008
This winning disc works on many levels…His compositional style skillfully blends sophisticated harmonies and counterpoint with an engaging melodicism that sticks with the listener…
Jazz Review Magazine (Jim Weir) Nov. 2008
Here’s something. No grand-standing; no God-bothering; no dour abstractions or bland parsing of the harmonic code; instead an album of the purest and most delightful melody. Irwin looks like he just won the science prize at high school, but he plays like a bruised angel…I earnestly suggest you track this one down. If it doesn’t delight and move you, you might find that you actually died in the night.
Jazzwise Magazine *** (Robert Shore)
It’s neither avant-garde nor self-consciously innovative, but that doesn’t stop Aaron Irwin’s second outing as leader from being a gently dazzling affair in a straight ahead kinda way. That’s partly because, though still only 30, the US altoist is a composer of distinction, and the seven (out of nine) originals here all display an admirable fund of melodic invention…
Blogcritics Magazine (Jordan Richardson)
Blood and Thunder is a courageous and crisp jazz record. It is appealing, absorbing, and affectionate. Irwin’s command over the music is immaculate, as he leads his group through his harmonious universe with the style and grace of a truly great musician. His original compositions are astonishing in their beauty and his work with a pair of classics is similarly stunning.
Irish Times ** (Ray Comiskey)
A gifted crafsman, Irwin, as composer, soloist and leader, defines this impressive album.
IMPROVIJAZZATION Nation (Rotcod Zzaj)
This is high-talent & energy at it’s best… gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears!
EJazz News (George W. Carroll)
This is a guy with a unique signature plus a definite singular personal dimension with what he sends out to us artistically.
This is an especially fine set by a talented up-and-coming artist who put together a great band for this outing.
Into The Light
The New Yorker – Jazz Notes – Best of 2006! (Steve Futterman)
Irwin is a lyrical alto saxophonist and a compelling original composer, as well as a canny bandleader. Unconcerned about sharing space on his dèbut with another horn player, Irwin calls on the seasoned tenor saxophonist Rich Perry, and their interplay injects subtle tension into imaginative interpretations of Porter’s “So in Love” and even “All the Things You Are.
Jazz Times (Forrest Dylan Bryant)
Time is elastic in Aaron Irwin’s universe, expanding and contracting capriciously. As Irwin’s lithe, straightforward alto sax playing jostles with Rich Perry’s resilient tenor, Ryan Scott’s moody guitar and the mercurial rhythm section, his tunes melt like Dali’s watches, with each soloist allowed to redefine the tempo at will…it also generates thoughtful dialogues, crunchy little grooves and moments of great emotive power.
All Music Guide ** (Scott Yanow)
Whether floating out-of-tempo or swinging hard, Irwin’s music is full of surprises and is consistently unpredictable. This CD grows in interest with each listen and is highly recommended.
Irish Times *** (Ray Comiskey)
He’s come up with an album of notable charm and intimacy.
The best, though, is the leader’s low-keyed fantasia on “So in Love.” In the Cole Porter classic, the saxes trade lovely phrases in chamber group fashion. Scott’s guitar accents in the background and Ritchie’s cymbal work contribute much to the transcendent beauty of the piece. This CD should indeed put Irwin and his group into the light.
Still shy of thirty, Aaron Irwin has very mature musical instincts and an eclectic taste, with playing that is rhythmically quite free and unpredictable and compositions with a broad stylistic range.
Cadence Magazine Oct. 2006 (Derek Taylor)
The two horns align particularly well over the lush opening harmonies of “The Point,” sailing atop a fluttering backdrop of gentle thrumming bass, guilded guitar chords, and rippling drum patter. Following a beautiful extended statement from Perry, Irwin’s closing solo on the piece delivers some of his most impassioned and freer leaning playing of the set against Scott’s mewling whale song tones…Irwin’s recording career is just getting rolling, but the merits of this well rounded release single him out as one to watch in the future.
George W. Carroll/The Musicians’ Ombudsman
I remember my first impression after imbibing the soft, mellow, but ‘utterly attached to the jazz idiom’ sound of this young turk, Aaron Irwin…….And, saying…..Yea!! This is a jazz artist we must reckon with. Aaron Irwin & his sax are here to stay. His delivery can sound bitter & sweet……soft & strained……..Even pure & distorted…….All from the backdrop of someone well trained in his craft. My sense is Aaron relies on spontaneity to such an extent that he can imbue a performance with ups & downs that engender us with a sense of wonder. All in all, this project is a study in ‘stylistic freshness’ in real time.