United (Inner Circle Music)

Jason Anick & Jason Yeager

Released January 2017

DownBeat Four-and-a-Half-Star Review






It would’ve been very easy for United to become simply a vehicle for the rare display of violin in a jazz setting.  Almost effortlessly, Jason Anick could’ve wielded his instrument’s unconventional voicing to claim the stage front and center, drawing most attention to the rarity of its presence.  But pianist Jason Yeager is in sync with Anick’s method of communication, and that’s a big reason why their new release has such a pleasing balance.

The influences of the Middle-East (“Achi“) and Argentina (“La Segunda“) and Poland (“Stillness”) inform the compositions, but these are a mild gravitational pull and do nothing to drag the album out of its folk-jazz orbit.  There’s a mix of originals and renditions, and, by far, it’s the originals that show this recording in its best light.  The Anick original “Bird’s Eye View” practically sings, and this is true whether Anick’s violin is aiming a solo skyward or Yeager’s piano is softly brushing against blades of grass.  And Anick’s “Well Red” displays a lyrical focus, where how something is expressed is more important than its meaning.  The Yeager original “Harlem Hoedown” straddles the difference between those two, finding room for some wild expressiveness and a crisp melody that borders on catchy.  As far as the renditions, it’s a mixed bag.  The fragile beauty of their version of Zbigniew Seifert’s “Stillness” is a stunning moment.  On the other hand, their subdued take on George Harrison’s “Something” leaves a regret that the duo might have taken a few chances at leaving their personal imprint on the heartwarming original. They operate mostly as a quartet with the bass and drums of Greg Loughman and Mike Connors, but Anick and Yeager switch things up with a number of guests, including trumpeter Jason Palmer and tenor saxophonist George Garzone, adding some welcome voices to an album that, thankfully, finds room for them all.

Track Listing:

1. Achi (Jason Yeager) 5:44

2. Bird’s Eye View (Jason Anick) 5:23

3. Well Red (Jason Anick) 5:26

4. Stillness (Zbigniew Seifert) 2:17

5. Harlem Hoedown (Jason Yeager) 8:02

6. Something (George Harrison) 5:17

7. Turbulent Plover (Zbigniew Seifert) 5:45

8. Sweet Pea (Jason Yeager) 6:28

9. La Segunda (Jason Yeager) 5:02

10. All Blues (Miles Davis) 5:25


Jason Anick: violin, mandolin
Jason Yeager: piano
Greg Loughman: bass (1-3, 6-8)
Mike Connors: drums (1-3, 6-8)

Special Guests

Clay Lyons: alto sax (2)

Jason Palmer: trumpet (3, 5)

John Lockwood: bass (5, 9)

Jerry Leake: percussion (5, 9)

George Garzone: tenor sax (7)

Recorded in 2016 at the Berklee College of Music

Produced by Jason Anick and Jason Yeager

Recorded by Mark Wessel

Mixed and Mastered by Dave Darlington

Graphic Design by Simon Huovinen

Photography by Simon Yu and Andy Cambria


These two lifelong friends—and now Berklee College of Music faculty colleagues—challenge and complement each other throughout these 10 tracks. Their music appeals as much to the mind as the spirit, not because it’s impossibly intricate (it isn’t) but because it avoids excess. Both Jasons and their guests improvise eloquently, but it’s the content of their inventions, not any showiness or exploitation of clichés, that moves the listener. “Well Red,” for example, opens with a plucked string motif in 7/8, which unfolds through several composed passages into a “blowing session” of sorts. With drummer Mike Connors left free to nudge things along, trumpeter Jason Palmer stretches out with an understated but wonderfully constructed solo. They approach simpler settings with intelligence and understatement. If one must point to a single track as the finest among United’s many gems, that might be “Sweet Pea.” Written as a tribute to Billy Strayhorn, it begins with Yeager alone, making the intention of his tune clear with delicate, arpeggiated chords played in a sighing rubato.

Bob Doerschuk (DownBeat)