It takes a bold, knowledgeable and inventive group to call itself The Verve Jazz
Ensemble. It is in the spirit of the Verve label’s 1950s-‘60s hard bop heyday that
The Verve Jazz Ensemble composes, arranges, and performs jazz of a timeless
quality. Across eight albums and counting – the latest entitled All In – the “VJE”
has been satisfying the cravings of critics and audiences alike, consistently placing
near or at the very top of the JazzWeek radio chart for the past decade. No less than Ellis Marsalis, the late, revered patriarch of the highly distinguished Marsalis family, observed, “The VJE is the new MJQ,” referring to the fabled Modern Jazz Quartet.
Drummer Josh Feldstein founded The Verve Jazz Ensemble in 2006 as a band that
pays homage to the past while vehemently establishing newer, younger audiences
for the now vintage sound. “Part of the band’s mission,” said Feldstein, “is to expand the audience of classic instrumental jazz, to identify melodies that pop audiences can easily relate and groove to.”
The VJE was a quintet when it first ventured into the studio to record its debut album, It’s About Time (2012), followed by East End Sojourn (2014), Perimeter (2016), and Swing-A-Nova (2017) – resulting in 3 top 10 JazzWeek albums. For 2018, Feldstein expanded the group into a septet with alto / flute and trombone for the VJE’s fifth album, Connect The Dots, a change that shot the band to the #1 position atop the JazzWeek chart for two weeks. Next came Night Mode (2019) – another top 10-charter – followed during the Covid lockdown by The VJE: Very Live! (2021).
For VJE’s eighth and latest album, All In, the septet joyfully explores the theme of
“Mid-20th century Americana” via two original compositions and eight arrangements of some classic and other little-heard material. The band consists of Tatum Green-blatt on trumpet, Willie Applewhite on trombone, Alexa Tarantino on alto sax / flute, Jon Blanck on tenor sax, Matt Oestreicher on piano and guitar, Elias Bailey on bass, and VJE leader Josh Feldstein on drums.