“Small Man - Big Sound!”
- THE MONITOR, Kampala, Uganda
"This gifted saxophonist-composer with the gorgeous tone follows through with quiet, understated conviction..."
- JAZZ TIMES
"With his beautiful, round soprano tone, the saxophonist Udden lends a haunting sheen to tunes spanning the soothingly melodic to the jaggedly free."
- MODERN DRUMMER
“This is carefully arranged music with an unruly streak — edgy, melancholy, but also at peace with itself… Is it jazz? Well, it’s not not jazz.”
– Jon Garelick, BOSTON PHOENIX
"Some of the freshest sounding jazz to appear in some time."
- THE VANCOUVER PROVINCE
Udden steals the record; his sound is unearthly…
“His writing for the quintet incorporates pastoral rock and folk and puts more emphasis on ensemble sound; the compositions aren’t merely launching pads for soloists. Udden’s saxophones often sound like a substitute for a vocalist, never getting complex but saying a lot in a simple line. The approach…comes across like a rural version of In a Silent Way.”
– Mike Shanley, JAZZTIMES
“Plainville’s music is decentralized, band-wise, and all over the place category-wise, imagining new kinds of country and folk and pop. …overall sounds as new as anything I’ve heard from a jazz group this year.”
– Ben Ratliff, NEW YORK TIMES
“…a gorgeous, meditative tone that signals that this scrappy band doesn’t hew to any prescribed style, nor does it engage in any sort of dilettantism…although he’s a super jazz saxophonist, [Udden] openly embraces the rock, folk, and country sounds he heard in his youth… More often than not, Udden’s music opts for a more gentle, almost pastoral quality–although it retains a muscle and grit to balance the lyric softness. The more difficult Udden’s music becomes to classify, the better it seems to get.”
-Peter Margasak, DOWNBEAT, 4 stars, “Best Albums of 2011”
“…a richly engrossing project from the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Boston saxophonist that finds new ground between jazz, instrumental rock and folk…Udden’s crew is just as comfortable carving out room in indie rock’s territory, but jazz fans should be equally taken with this caliber of invention.”
– Chris Barton, LA TIMES
(On a recent performance at the Undead Festival in New York): “Toward the wee hours of the morning, the streets were quiet and this was the most appropriate group to close the night. Plainville allowed the weary audience to mentally leave New York for a brief moment…a painting of small-town life and optimism, mixed with Southern gothic maturity, folk song simplicity, and garage rock pathos…Plainville’s writing took rock and folk die casting, and colored it with an advanced harmonic and rhythmic sense. Udden’s sound was a steampunk arrangement of ideas, as if Lee Konitz were reimagined as a folk hero, with lines that flowed in effortless threads.”
– Daniel Lehner, ALLABOUTJAZZ .com
“If the Past Seems So Bright is about the idea of returning home. But the music is so much more than that. Udden is carving out new territory with this project, which folds folk, country, and rock into the jazz tradition.”
– Steve Greenlee, BOSTON GLOBE
Critic’s Pick: “No one ever refers to composers of instrumental jazz as songwriters, but over the past few years, a group of like-minded local artists have made the term seem apt. If the Past Seems So Bright (Sunnyside), the latest from saxist Jeremy Udden’s Plainville project, joins releases by bassists Chris Lightcap and Eivind Opsvik (a Plainville member) to form a mini movement. This is beauty-forward jazz, serene yet deeply engaging, in which improvisation serves melody rather than the other way around. Udden favors a pastoral sound, driven by Brandon Seabrook’s folksy banjo and Pete Rende’s ’70s-style keys; on tracks like “Bovina,” the leader’s horn flutters against the loping backdrop like a butterfly. If a future-minded ensemble like Fieldwork is the Rush of NYC jazz, think of Plainville as the Band.”
– Hank Shteamer, TIME OUT NEW YORK
“…It’s not often that a youngish thirtysomething pines for days gone by, and probably even less often that the results of such wistfulness can genuinely claim eloquence….Saxophonist Udden, a New Englander by birth and Brooklynite by choice, Using banjo, 12-string guitar, pump organ, Wurlitzer, bass and drums – as well as his soft-spoken alto – the bandleader comes up with a fetching program that employs just as many folk music motifs as it does jazz strategies. Melodic jousting; simple, repeated patterns; lots of gliding rhythms. This is music that invests in small moments, where a demure sax trill can convey a near cinematic event…Riding the placid groove is Udden’s horn, full of West Coast cool’s rounded corners, and enticing in its luminous lyricism. The minimalist “Bethel,” with Nathan Blehar singing wordlessly in unison with the boss’s soprano, is a hymn that Longfellow might find redemptive…Courageous, it’s a stark opus that captivates by stressing negative space. Udden must have very vivid memories of the wind whipping through the fields in those Massachusetts nature preserves.”
– Jim Macnie, TONE AUDIO MAGAZINE
Praise for Udden’s 2009 recording Plainville:
Jazz for Wilco fans-a rural vibe that has a dash of a New England starkness to it, even when the aggression takes over.
- VILLAGE VOICE
A pluralistic stylistic orientation (rock, free, folk build upon the underlying jazz) Udden has created a resolutely new music where eclecticism and personal experience play an important role.
- JAZZMAN (FRANCE)
The soprano and alto saxophonist Jeremy Udden reaches for rusticity and sincerity on his warm new album, “Plainville” (Fresh Sound New Talent), and sometimes he finds both…
- THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Melodic, ruminative, nostalgic and fresh at the same time.
- SEATTLE TIMES
Plainville is an appealingly dreamy roots-jazz combo, driven by Pete Rende’s pump organ and Brandon Seabrook’s banjo
- TIME OUT NEW YORK
Praise for Udden’s 2006 recording torchsongs:
This is a revealing study in immense assurance & total artistic lyricism…With a bent towards the imaginative…The adventurous….The deliberate…The open-minded.
— George W. Carroll/The Musicians’ Ombudsman
…a distinctive soprano and alto saxophonist with a gorgeous tone and a subtly personal lyricism… Udden ranges from the linear grace of Keith Jarrett-like songs, through equally melodic jazz/rock to some very focused free playing. Somehow, despite his gentle approach, his sheer musical presence imposes a kind of unity on what emerges…Udden lays down a marker as a player who deserves to be much better known.
— Ray Comiskey, The Irish Times, 4 stars
torchsongs is a small wonder, full of color and daring.
— Jim Macnie, THE VILLAGE VOICE
…echoes of reedman Jimmy Giuffre on those early tracks, in their calm, quiet accessibility… The package coheres nicely, and shows a side of Udden not much on display with the Either/Orchestra – one both cooler and more pop-oriented.
— Bill Beuttler, THE BOSTON GLOBE
Recent feature in Downbeat Magazine:
The Brooklyn-based "gifted alto saxophonist and composer with the gorgeous tone" (JAZZTIMES) has found a voice within a variety of projects, including the Grammy nominated Either/Orchestra, throughout his critically-acclaimed albums for Sunnyside Records (NYC) and Fresh Sound New Talent (Barcelona), and on over 20 recordings as a sideman. His PLAINVILLE project "openly embraces the rock, folk, and country sounds he heard in his youth" (DOWNBEAT, 4 stars), recently producing "one of the year’s most slyly inviting jazz albums” (NY TIMES). Udden has performed with Bob Brookmeyer, Steve Lacy, Gunther Schuller, Matt Wilson, Andrew D'Angelo's DNA Band, and "Ethio-Jazz" legend Mulatu Astatke, among many others, in Europe, China, Africa, and around the US.
Described as “a stylish young saxophonist who suggests a contemporary minded Lee Konitz” (THE NEW YORKER); saxophonist, composer, band-leader, and educator Jeremy Udden has appeared on over twenty albums (four as leader) and toured much of the US, Europe, Scandinavia, Africa, and China. His most recent release, Hush Point (Sunnyside) – a co-lead effort with the great trumpeter John McNeil- received 4 stars and was among Downbeat Magazine’s “Best Albums of 2013”. Also in 2013 Udden traveled to Paris, France as winner of the French-American Jazz Exchange Grant from the Doris Duke Foundation, where he perform concerts and recorded a new collaborative suite.
His country-rock tinged Plainville project has been dubbed “Jazz for Wilco fans” (VILLAGE VOICE) and “…a richly engrossing project from the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Boston saxophonist that finds new ground between jazz, instrumental rock and folk” (LA TIMES). The New York Times called Plainville’s sophomore release If the Past Seems So Bright, “one of the year’s most slyly inviting jazz albums.” Downbeat also gave it 4 stars, rating it one of the “Best Albums of 2011” and adding, “The more difficult Udden’s music becomes to classify, the better it seems to get.” The firstPlainville album reached “Best of 2009” lists in The New York Times, Village Voice,Chicago Reader, Boston Phoenix, Jazzman (France) and NPR’s A Blog Supremeamong others, and was dubbed “some of the freshest jazz to appear in some time” (Vancouver Province).
Before moving to New York in 2005, he spent several years in the Grammy-nominatedEither/Orchestra, recording three albums, performing and giving clinics around the world. His debut album, Torchsongs, (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2005) was considered “a small wonder, full of color and daring” (Village Voice) and featured Ben Monder and the legendary valve-trombonist Bob Brookmeyer.
Long-time member of the Grammy nominated Either/Orchestra (Matt Wilson, John Mediski and Miguel Zenon among other alumni), Udden recorded three albums with the band and toured Europe, Africa, and around the US a number of times. Numerous records to his credit as a sideman (Accurate, CIMP, Creative Nation Music, Fresh Sound New Talent, Innova) with projects in the jazz, avant-garde, rock, pop, and world music genres, has helped give his music a “wealth of texture and invention” (All About Jazz New York).
Winner of the 2003 Fish-Middleton Jazz Competition in Washington, D.C. and a 2005 ASCAP Young Composer Award finalist, he recently performed at Carnegie Hall’s Merkin Hall with Joe Lovano, Dave Leibman and Irene Aebi in tribute to Steve Lacy, and as a guest soloist with Gunther Schuller and the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston at Harvard’s Sanders Theater.
Over the years, he has shared the stage or studio with Mahmoud Ahmed, Steve Lacy, The Presidents of the United States of America, Dominique Eade, the Jazz Composer’s Alliance, Sofia Rei, Bruno Raberg and Mulatu Estatke, Juliana Hatfield, Sam Rivers, Maria Schnieder, the Miracle Orchestra, Darcy James Argue, Charlie Kolhase, Tony Malaby, Bill McHenry, John Hollenbeck, to name a few and too many wonderful musicians in New York, Boston, California, Sweden, Italy, Maine, Washington, China, Portugal and Africa to name.
Udden started playing the saxophone at age 10, and began performing regularly on the Boston club scene at 15 with Big Lick, an eight-piece ska/punk band with two albums and a few US tours to its credit. In high school he was also a member of the All-American Grammy Band. In 1996 he moved to Boston to study with Allan Chase, Jerry Bergonzi, George Garzone, Paul Bley, Charlie Banacos, Steve Lacy, Danilo Perez, Fred Hersch, and Bob Brookmeyer at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he received a BM and MM in Jazz Performance.