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Press Quotes

  • “The Respect Sextet stamps ambitious music with a smart-alecky affect, ranging broadly from the antic to the deadpan. Clipping »

- The New York Times

  • LOVE IT: Classically trained whiz kids play the music of Sun Ra and Stockhausen. An out-of-this-world pairing.” Clipping »

- Newsweek Magazine

  • “…A group that has created one of the most compelling recordings of the year…[Respect] plays with a stellar blend of precision and humor. Clipping »

- The Wall Street Journal wsj

  • “…It is in fact only fair to suggest that the Respect Sextet may be standing at the gateway to jazz’s future…The Respect Sextet, for all its whimsy, is serious as hell.” Full Article »

- New York Press

  • “…Six musicians, who swing appropriately hard and blow wild.” Full Article »

- The Wire Magazine thewire-logo2

  • “Thanks to New York’s Respect Sextet, the combination works. The Respect Sextet displays the formal structure and melodic gifts of Sun Ra’s music, and focuses on Stockhausen’s Zodiac pieces…It’s neither jazz nor classical, but something cosmically both.Full Article »

- WNYC’s Soundcheck w/ John Schaefer

  • …One of the best and most ambitious new ensembles in jazz.Clipping »

- Signal To Noise Signal To Noise

  • “…The raucous bunch known as the Respect Sextet combine a whimsical, tongue-in-cheek attitude with chops that are almost fearsome.Full Article »
  • “This is world-class American jazz at its finest and freest. It’s pure truth. Respect the truth.” Full Article »
  • “…The sense of adventurousness that pervades Respect’s ecstatic improvisations won’t be found in standard Eastman curriculum.” Full Article »
  • “…The group veers from deep rhythmic workouts to open drones and hilarious vaudeville.Full Article »

- City Newspaper

  • Powerfully focused….[T]here’s cohesion to the playing; the band arrives with a single purpose. They don’t use, reference or borrow from bebop, in other words. They integrate it. It is, in this case, a crucial distinction – while they may be playful, one thing the band isn’t is ironic. They play good jazz straight up, even if they come at it from several angles, often at the same time.” Full Article »
  • “The Respect Sextet is that rare jazz animal—a band that has stayed together. On stage…the band proved that longevity has its place, and that six friends can combine forces into a whole that is truly worthy of its parts.Full Article »
  • “…When the band concluded, the entire street erupted. It was a triumphant homecoming for this terrific band…” Full Article »


  • “What starts as a quizzical maelstrom slowly takes shape like the T-1000, liquid parts dribbling in from all sides, colors being added like you’re clicking around in Photoshop…” Full Article »


  • “A rich listening experience that is bound to invite repeated listening…Common musical ground is created with beautiful, re-imagined orchestrations.Full Article »
  • “Forget about the wan, self-conscious eclecticism that’s the bane of the current jazz scene. This is the real deal, burning hard and bright.Full Article »
  • “It’s not music that is trying to be experimental, it just goes off… Highly recommended.Full Article »

- Exclaim!

  • “Somehow, these guys pull it off!…By internalizing the music of Ra and Stockhausen, they’ve come up with something that hits at the core of both while still stamping the music with their own mark.Full Article »
  • “…From Salvation Army hymnody to Aylerian ecstasy…one of this year’s outstanding new discs, providing more food for thought and pure enjoyment than just about anything I’ve heard lately.Full Article »
  • “…An impressive debut.Full Article »

- Cadence Magazine

  • “As with previous releases you can’t escape the feeling that not only are these guys very good at what they do, they seem to have a lot of fun doing it.Full Article »
  • “Please don’t take my word for how good this is…” Full Article »

- Paris Transatlantic Magazine

  • “Often spacious, and equally often crowded with boisterous passion, Respect in You revels in some great post-free, architecturally exciting play.Full Article »

- Coda

  • “…The most exciting jazz disc I’ve heard this year…First disc of the year I’m giving a ***** to.” Full Article »


  • “…By the end of the record, you are left pleasantly dizzy and exhausted.” Full Article »


Full Articles

Preview of Respect’s performance at Le Poisson Rouge, NYC
by Saby Reyes-Kulkarni
New York Press | May 22, 2009

While it may initially seem heavy-handed to say so, it is in fact only fair to suggest that the Respect Sextet may be standing at the gateway to jazz’s future. Like a grinning, laughing, joking musical juggernaut, Respect glides between traditional and avant-garde stylings with fearsome dexterity and poise, moving in tandem not unlike a large, predatory bird—only one that’s armed with a boatload of toy instruments and also smiles a lot.

Many are the reasons that this NYC-based group, which originally formed nine years ago at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester (home to this writer), stands to elevate the art form, transcend its limitations and deliver it to new audiences. Whether or not the band itself gives a damn about how widespread its appeal is or how it goes down in the history books to be viewed in hindsight is another matter altogether—but it just doesn’t change the facts. Which are, in short: that Respect is leaving an unprecedented stamp on the music and puts on a kick-ass live show thanks to its ferocious musical ability and equally compelling sense of humor. For starters, watching Respect is fun—a word not normally associated with the challenging forms that the group excels at. And, where other acts can be overly contrived in their use of humor, Respect shows masterful skill at putting the audience at ease, which effectively makes very difficult music go down easy.

For example, along with its traditional horns-keyboards-drums instrumentation, the band also employs melodica and toy percussion in a way that’s amusing but also dead-on rhythmically. Readers may recognize drummer Ted Poor from his involvement in the Brooklyn Jazz Underground, as well as his work with renowned Trumpet Player Cuong Vu, among others. Poor’s prodigious (borderline monstrous) talents on the drums are nicely offest by his unassuming demeanor, natural grace, and the fact that the rest of the bandmembers show the same on their own instruments.

The band plays (le) poisson rouge on Sunday to release its new album, Sirius Respect, wherein Respect plays the music of Sun Ra and Stockhausen. While Ra and Stockhausen may appear to make strange bedfellows, their many similarities make them prime candidates for precisely this kind of shared tribute. Both men introduced unprecedented levels of complexity to their respective forms. Both also harbored extraterrestrial/cosmological obsessions and cultivated cultish personas where you had to scratch your head and ask “is this guy… serious?”

The Respect Sextet, for all its whimsy, is serious as hell. And it needs to be to pull off such an ambitious undertaking. But if anyone can translate Sun Ra’s big-band arrangements and Stockhausen’s modernist orchestrations to a small-group format—and bridge the musical gaps between them—this would be the band to watch doing it. As for the band’s deadpan whimsy, take this little gem from keyboardist Red Wierenga, from the new album’s liner notes: “Sirius Respect both references outer space generally and specifically, while conveying that we are serious in paying respect to Sun Ra and Stockhausen.” If Miles Davis were still around, he might have said “that Red Weirenga, he’s one funny motherfucker. And he’s a motherfucker on the instrument too. In fact, the whole BAND is a motherfucker!”

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Review of Sirius Respect
by Dan Warburton
The Wire Magazine | June, 2009

Although they grew up in very different worlds thousands of miles apart, Herman Blount (Sun Ra) and Karlheinz Stockhausen had plenty in common. Claiming to be visitors from outer space — Ra from Saturn, Stockhausen from Sirius — each found a way out of a musical environment governed by strict rules. Each adapted the codes and conventions of, respectively, swing and serialism, to their own ends, with a close-knit community of colourful characters — Ra’s in the back streets of Philadelphia, Stockhausen’s in the rolling hills north east of Cologne.

This joint tribute from a group of Eastman School of Music alumni, then, is more convincing than the cringeworthy pun of its title might lead you to expect. The quirky angularity of the 12 melodies, one for each sign of the zodiac, that Stockhausen wrote for 1975’s Musik im Bauch and published separately as Tierkreis (three of them are included here) is also found in Ra’s ferociously difficult “Shadow World”, which receives a bravura reading from these six musicians, who swing appropriately hard and blow wild. The album alternates Ra and Stockhausen offerings before combining the former’s “Saturn” and the latter’s Capricorn in a sprawling final jam, but Ra wins on the deal. “El Is The Sound Of Joy” is treated to a majestic ten minutes, with fine playing from trombonist James Hirschfeld and pianist Red Wierenga, while “Set Sail For The Sun”, from Stockhausen’s Aus Den Sieben Tagen (1968) gets just over five and a half — not quite enough for “the whole sound to turn to gold, to pure, gently shimmering fire”, as the composer intended.

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Review of Sirius Respect (Soundcheck’s ‘Pick of the Week’)
by John Schaefer
WNYC’s Soundcheck | May 22, 2009

The late avant-garde jazz bandleader Sun Ra claimed he was born on the planet Saturn. His birth certificate said Alabama, but that must’ve been a government cover-up. Now, Sun Ra’s music has been paired with another “child of the cosmos,” the late German avant-garde classical composer and provocateur Karlheinz Stockhausen. Thanks to New York’s Respect Sextet, the combination works. The Respect Sextet displays the formal structure and melodic gifts of Sun Ra’s music, and focuses on Stockhausen’s Zodiac pieces. It’s neither jazz nor classical, but something cosmically both.

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Preview of Respect’s performance at Monty’s Krown, Rochester, NY
City Newspaper | August 2006

Eclectic Eastman School alums now based out of New York, the raucous bunch known as the Respect Sextet combine a whimsical, tongue-in-cheek attitude with chops that are almost fearsome. It’s such a winning combination that Respect receives a heroic welcome whenever it returns to town. As well it should: this is a band perfectly at ease gliding from traditional big band standards to Bulgarian folk and diving from there third-eye first into a pot of boiling Sun Ra without missing any of its requisite altered states-inducing properties. And let’s not forget Respect’s own distinct, trailblazing brand of modern jazz. At the end of the day, though, don’t let the psychic rapport between band members or the breathtaking range and scope of the repertoire entice you alone: watching Respect is FUN. It also goes great with beer and should go over swimmingly in the sweaty, intimate confines of the Krown as well as with the bar’s open-minded metal- and punk-leaning regulars.

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Review of Respect’s performance at Le Poisson Rouge | May 24, 2009

After nearly a decade together, the members of The Respect Sextet have created an environment of trust and musical courage that allows them to explore the many facets of improvised music. They displayed this fearlessness—and a playful love of experimentation—to a standing-room-only crowd at Le Poisson Rouge in New York’s Greenwich Village on May 24.

The Respect Sextet consists of Eli Asher (trumpet), James Hirschfeld (trombone, electronics), Malcolm Kirby (bass), Ted Poor (drums), Josh Rutner (saxophone, bass clarinet), and Red Wierenga (piano, keyboards, laptop, electronics). They got together when they were students at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. For several years they played a regular weekly gig in a coffee shop next to the school, and this gave them the workshop environment they needed to develop both their approach to performing and their composition and arranging skills.

The show at Le Poisson Rouge was a CD release party to promote Sirius Respect (Mode, 2009), a recording that features the music of two avant garde giants—Sun Ra and Karlheinz Stockhausen. The set list featured several Sun Ra classics, including “Saturn” and “Angels and Demons at Play,” along with a number of works by Stockhausen arranged for the particular instrumentation of the sextet.

None of Stockhausen’s works were originally written for an ensemble such as Respect, but the band managed to find pieces that leant themselves to their brand of collective improvisation. Many of the Stockhausen pieces were paired in medleys with the Sun Ra compositions, which allowed for long stretches of freely improvised transitions between the tunes. Given the musical freedom inherent in many of the compositions, that often made it difficult to figure out where one piece began and another ended. Not that that mattered, of course, given the seamless integration of the performances.

Perhaps the most successful combination was the final medley—a blending of Stockhausen’s “Capricorn” (from his series of composition based on signs of the Zodiac) with Sun Ra’s “Saturn.” The highlight of this pairing was Eli Asher’s trumpet solo. Asher has described himself as the band’s bebopper, and those roots were clearly present in his improvisation. But he has also pushed himself far beyond those original boundaries, as his blistering solo made clear. Also impressive was the cloud of mist surrounding him in the harsh yellow light of the stage. Asher seemed to be creating his own steam from his mouthpiece and bell as he tore through his performance.

Pianist Wierenga also impressed with his palette of electronic and acoustic instruments. Sitting like a mad scientist amid keyboards, laptops, electromagnets and a grand piano, Wierenga was responsible for many of the subtle orchestrations and soundscapes of the concert. Since studying in Amsterdam several years ago, Wierenga has begun building his own musical devices, several of which were on display. Hirschfeld blew into a wooden box with trumpet-like valves that ran through a laptop, producing eerie synthetic pads behind the improvisations. Rutner used one of Wierenga’s crackleboxes, a wooden box with buttons on the front that made various 70s-era Nonesuch bleeps and bloops when pressed. And Wierenga himself altered his piano sounds with various electronic gadgets and laptop effects.

Wierenga’s electronic experimentation was equaled by his piano constructions. Although perhaps “deconstructions” would be a better descriptive term. Wierenga is more than capable of ripping out agile bop piano lines, as he proved on several numbers, but he specializes in taking apart a song’s melodic and harmonic structure and stripping it down to its component parts. This involves an impressive ability to analyze a piece on the spot and then creatively—and musically—get to its heart.

Driving the band was the unstoppable engine of Kirby and Poor. After so many years together, the bassist and drummer have developed into a rock-solid unit. They were able to drive the band through powerhouse performances like the opener, Ra’s “Shadow World,” while also subtly coloring the free improvisations.

Trombonist James Hirschfeld brings soul and depth to his instrument, forcing a massive sound from the end of his horn. He’s a skilled composer, both on paper and in the moment as an improviser. But Hirschfeld, like all the members of the sextet, is always ready to act for the greater good of the ensemble and the music. He strides to front when necessary, and then crouches on the floor blowing into an electro-acoustic box, nearly unseen, when it suits the composition.

Running throughout this ensemble is a strong sense of humor and joy. Saxophonist Rutner epitomizes this playfulness, although he’s also a serious improviser and composer. Rutner seldom cracks a smile on stage, even when he’s slamming a canvas tote bag full of percussion instruments on the floor or blowing the shofar—a Jewish horn that it is used for serious religious purposes, but is after all a large ram’s horn. Rutner was also responsible for the recorded introductory piece that brought the band on stage. The recording featured the voices of Sun Ra and Stockhausen, along with audio from a Mentos commercial, chords from a Beatles album, and a count-off from educator Jamey Aebersold.

The Respect Sextet is that rare jazz animal—a band that has stayed together. On stage at Le Poisson Rouge, the band proved that longevity has its place, and that six friends can combine forces into a whole that is truly worthy of its parts.

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Review of Respect’s performance at the Rochester International Jazz Festival
by Robert Iannapollo | July 24, 2006

Another show that had a lot of anticipation attached to it was the homecoming of the Respect Sextet. They’re former locals much beloved by this city. The band got their start here five years ago with a two year Wednesday night residency at a local coffee house. Since then, most members have moved down to NYC and Rochester hasn’t quite been the same since. Ironically, their outdoor set was about 50 feet away from the spot of their residency. Another anticipatory feature of this concert was the band’s reunion with their original bassist, Malcolm Kirby, who stayed in Rochester for a permanent bass gig with Sacred Steel masters The Campbell Brothers. The street took on the atmosphere of a block party and when saxophonist Rutner eyed the sea of people he shouted, “Look at this crowd. I just have one question. Where were all you people on Wednesday nights?”

The band was exuberant as they premiered some new material and pulled out a couple of old favorites. They opened with “Ian,” a Latin-influenced groove piece by trombonist Hirshfeld. That led into an old band favorite, Herbie Nichols’ “Step Tempest.” By the third number the band was in full flower. A new tune, “Copacabanitsa,” based on a Bulgarian rhythm (written for a recently presented a concert in NYC at the Cornelia St. Cafe entitled Respect Sextet Presents American Jazz Expression of Bulgarian Folklore), was in some godforsaken time signature and they also somehow managed to take a detour into Sun Ra’s “Call For All Demons.” The band’s strong point, their spontaneous arranging, was well to the fore throughout the set. One song was announced as an “old favorite,” and the band ripped into a mighty rendition of Albert Ayler’s “The Truth Is Marching In.” It’s rare that one hears Ayler’s music blaring at a block party but it did on this night and it drew wild applause at its conclusion. The audience was surprisingly attentive for an outdoor audience and when the band concluded, the entire street erupted. It was a triumphant homecoming for this terrific band.

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Review of Respect In You
by Jeff Vrabel | February 23, 2006

The Respect Sextet opens this crack live document with a good five minutes of schizoid and scatterbrained dissonance called “3 on 2”, but it’s a pump fake. What starts as a quizzical maelstrom slowly takes shape like the T-1000, liquid parts dribbling in from all sides, colors being added like you’re clicking around in Photoshop, shells slowly being defined. Somewhere the drum comes in, going from random bang-splashing into a judiciously formed skiffle, a theme pops out and before you know it, the damned thing has a Coltraney shape where before there was smoke, air and the unmistakable vibe of six brainy kids knowingly smirking at each other. The New York-based outfit the Respect Sextet, formed in Rochester, NY’s Eastman School of Music but sounding not much like it, comprises Josh Rutner on reeds, Eli Asher on trumpet, James Hirschfeld on trombone, Ted Poor on drums and Red Wierenga on piano; this live document also adds guest bassist Matt Clohesy. Throughout its brief but lively history, Respect has prided itself on both nominal alignment (their previous records: Respect, Respectacle, Respookt, and finally their official 2003 studio debut The Full Respect) and their ability to handle just about anything thrown at them (including, according to their PR stuff, Bulgarian tunes, and if you’ve ever attempted to get a handle on Bulgarian jazz you know how tough that can be). In fact, The Full Respect, boasted a 24-second riff on the Mentos theme song that was multitracked almost as much as that last Madonna record, for anyone who thought that the words “free jazz” automatically precluded any sense of comedy (it also, for good measure, included the judicious employment of a squeaky squeeze toy). Jazz not being a genre particularly known for its zany clown characters or artful parodists, such unabashed tomfoolery could become cause for self-conscious head-scratching, but here it comes off as perfectly endearing. There’s little pop culture goofiness on Respect in You, a live document of a May 2004 gig recorded in their hometown. And there’s no kids’ toys or klezmer either, come to think of it. But that it lacks the kitchen-sink bizarroness of their studio work makes it their most accessible effort to date, as well as, ironically, the best statement of that versatility. The Respect Sextet is equally comfortable in the worlds of hard bop, swing, traditional jazz and its free cousin. But in listening to the remaining 11 minutes of Fred Anderson’s “3 on 2”, and “Nation’s Capital”, (where Asher takes turns dribbling descending trumpet riffs all over his peers before the band works up a clanky polyrhythm with an undeniable funk to it), this is a sly little elf of an outfit that lives for getting in there and screwing around with the machine. There’s dizzy chaos in there, but there’s also the unmistakable sound of smart design and a sense of history. And for that they deserve their share of… hold on, there’s a word I’m looking for here.

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Review of Respect In You (ranked #6 on Exclaim!’s ‘Experimental & Avant-Garde, 2005′ list)
by Nate Dorward
Exclaim! | December 2005

The 15-minute version of Fred Anderson’s “3 on 2” is one of the year’s great performances; it emerges slowly out of radio fuzz like the sun peeking over the horizon, then digs in hard, an ecstatic, weaving-in-and-out mass of horns swarming all over the lean funk groove. Recorded live on the band’s home turf of Rochester, NY, Respect In You is a whirling collage that ransacks and reshapes the entire jazz tradition, from New Orleans march to Misha Mengelberg, Sun Ra to Charlie Parker. Forget about the wan, self-conscious eclecticism that’s the bane of the current jazz scene. This is the real deal, burning hard and bright.

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Review of Respect In You
by Frank DeBlase
City Newspaper | December 2005

The Respect Sextet adds just enough swing and easy bop that by the time its free-form explorations and freak-out hit, it’s way too late to turn back. But then the band throws in unison runs and harmonies amidst the dissonant brass laughter to prove there actually is a plan.

On its way-cool new Respect In You, Respect takes the listener on a trip, but the map’s on fire — and so is the band.

It’s hard bop. It swings. It challenges and instigates. It delightfully confounds. This is world-class American jazz at its finest and freest. It’s pure truth. Respect the truth.

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Review of Respect in You
by Nate Dorward
Cadence Magazine | October 2005

This group’s been around since 2001, and they already have several discs to their credit- a couple CD-Rs, a mini-CD of a twenty-minute version of Sun Ra’s “Call to All Demons,” and one full-length CD, The Full Respect. They have great chops and a great sense of humor, and they seem to play just about everything. (Robert Iannopollo calls them a “Jazzswinglatinbopbalkanfreeimprov band,” but if anything that sells them short.) The Full Respect has supercharged grooves peppered Art Ensemble-style with children’s toys, game-pieces, Dave Douglasy accordion-and-trumpet, a Charlie Parker/Bill Evans mashup, pitch-perfect Ellingtonia, klezmer, a TV commercial, a mangled trumpet rag (a joke at Wynton Marsalis’ expense?). It’s a fun and mightily impressive disc, even if it’s a little too close to the post-Zorn channel-flipping aesthetic.

Respect in You, recorded at a live gig from the band’s hometown of Rochester, NY, has all its predecessor’s virtues, but it’s less of a crazyquilt. It’s still witty and intelligent music, shot through with an allusive let’s-throw-this-in-the-pot sensibility, but there’s much less of an ironic distance: they seem in the grip of this music, and convey that sense of pressure to the listener too. They do a cover of Misha Mengelberg’s “Hypochrismutreefuzz” and stitch other Mengelberg themes into the rest of the album; perhaps what they’ve learned from Misha (or from another of their heroes, Sun Ra) is how to pry jazz apart–to make it sound layered rather than seamless, an unstable compound of elements that can each recede or approach, become sharper or fray at the edges. Their reading of Fred Anderson’s “3 on 2” is a case in point. Emerging from a nebula of radio fuzz, it homes in on a swirling Coltrane-derived groove. The band’s delivery is authentically ecstatic: it’s as thrilling an opening to an album as any I’ve heard in the past year, all fifteen minutes of it. But the performance also makes use of weaving in-and-out shifts of texture and of emphasis within the ensemble, as a way of gaining and readjusting their (and our) perspective on this kind of ecstatic intensity. (Call it “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Fred Anderson.”) Sometimes this multiperspectivism is almost schematic: “Postal (a.k.a. PB&J),” for instance, sets two kinds of blues in dialogue, a “Blues for Alice” swinger and a “Black and Tan Fantasy” funeral march. It’s a clever idea- Bird talking back to Ellington- but it’s a lot more than that, not least because right in the middle of the piece there’s a black-hole collapse, all the bright bebop virtuosity squeezed dry until it’s no more than an ominous thrumming.

There’s much more that could be said- about the superb work of the individual players (saxophonist Josh Rutner, trombonist James Hirschfield, trumpeter Eli Asher, pianist/accordionist Red Wierenga, bassist Matt Clohesy, drummer Ted Poor); about the whimsical details and quotes that take multiple listens to ferret out; about the deviously snowballing “Hypochrismutreefuzz”, or “Riot of Light,” which to these ears is not so much joyful as an exploration of how joy is expressed in music, from Salvation Army hymnody to Aylerian ecstasy to a whirlwind tour of Latin and Caribbean dance rhythms. But suffice it to say that Respect in You is one of this year’s outstanding new discs, providing more food for thought and pure enjoyment than just about anything I’ve heard lately. Check it out.

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Review of Respect in You
by David Dacks
Exclaim! | September 7, 2005

Last year, Exclaim!’s number one improv release was Home Speaks to the Wandering by Dead Cat Bounce. The Respect Sextet trod very much in the same musical territory featuring soulful, harmonically challenging riffing within freedom and grooves. The Sextet seem to be conversant in every shade of jazz, and create long form suites which never seem too over-analysed. The disc opens with a 15-minute version of Fred Anderson’s “3 on 2.” The first few minutes feature the band building to spiritual freedom, anchored by Anderson’s no-nonsense melody. By the time the funk hits about seven minutes into the track, it’s merely a bonus to the highly-spirited and soulful collective improv. Over the next eight minutes the band ebb and flow back into the increasingly New Orleans-informed rhythm of drummer Ted Poor. Trumpeter Eli Asher’s “Nation’s Capital” starts out as a page from the Ornette Coleman songbook, but settles into a long homemade percussion jam which recalls the go-go sound of the nation’s capital in the ’80s. The Sextet is consistently successful at teasing grooves out of textures and holding them down at low dynamics. Any one of these tracks could work in a commercial jazz radio format, because they swing hard in the tradition, but they’re always willing to other planes at any moment. It’s not music that is trying to be experimental, it just goes off… Highly recommended.

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Review of Review of Farcical Built for Six
by Stephen Griffith
Paris Transatlantic Magazine | October 2010

This digital-only collection of 8 original songs answers the question “How are these guys gonna follow up the success of Sirius Respect?” That disc’s brilliant pairing of material by Sun Ra and Stockhausen got this hardworking band some much-deserved attention, but the sextet’s own composing talents are just as satisfying, drawing on a typically deep well of influences. Drummer Ted Poor’s “Stray Gator” carries over the Ra influence in an ominous blast-off featuring a brooding tenor saxophone solo by Josh Rutner and brash trumpet from Eli Asher. That’s followed by trombonist James Hirshfield’s “Tony I”, a romp which veers between Dixieland and ragtime with assorted ritards and percussive is-the-needle-stuck interjections. Pianist Red Wierenga seems to be channeling Jerry Lee Lewis on parts of the intricate title cut, while the band adds to the fun with big Latin horns on “The Hinske Plow”. Hirshfield’s yearning trombone really shines on the introspective “Vermont”, which conjures up echoes of the David Murray Octet, and the album ends perfectly with Rutner’s bebop send-up “I Want to Be Asher”, which sounds as fresh now as it would have on Savoy in 1945. As with previous releases you can’t escape the feeling that not only are these guys very good at what they do, they seem to have a lot of fun doing it.

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Review of Respect In You
by Stephen Griffith
Paris Transatlantic Magazine | June 2005

Two years ago, the Abdullah Ibrahim trio’s lackluster performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival put me in a very foul mood, and the evening was only saved by a chance encounter with an unheralded group at a nearby club playing energized versions of Ornette Coleman songs. Recently, while wondering a) if Dave Holland was ever going to produce anything as remotely inspired as Conference of the Birds and b) whether the world really needs a twelve-disc Vandermark 5 live set, this strangely-titled album arrived and I was similarly lifted out of my trough of despond. Instead of Ornette, Misha Mengelberg is the stylistic touchstone for The Respect Sextet; aside from a reading of his delightfully-named “Hypochristmutreefuzz” (which meanders in an engagingly madcap manner before finally getting around to the theme just before the end), they have a habit of throwing in snippets of other Misha songs throughout the rest of the album, as if New Dutch Swing had been grafted and transplanted into foreign soil in an unlikely location – a club in Rochester, New York. But these guys are far more than an ICP cover band: their influences are wide-ranging. The disc starts off with Fred Anderson’s “3 on 2”, and if Josh Rutner doesn’t emulate Fred’s tenor riffs, he has a similarly brawny tone. The group pounds a series of grooves into submission Anderson-style, with trumpeter Eli Asher and trombonist James Hirschfeld getting in their licks while pianist/accordionist Red Wierenga (somewhat buried in the mix) and drummer Ted Poor team up with guest bassist Matt Clohesy to propel the horns through the compositional twists and turns. “Postal (a.k.a. PB&J)” starts as an upbeat Mingus-like blues with fluid tenor sax over a cooking rhythm section that downshifts to a trombone-heavy New Orleans funeral march. As the dirge comes to a halt, Rutner deftly interjects a couple of Mengelberg quotes (a brief “Die Berge Schuetzen Die Heimat” followed by “Rollo II”, for you Mishaphiles), Clohesy lays down a throbbing pulse under Poor’s crisp cymbal work and the band returns to the initial theme. Please don’t take my word for how good this is: go to and sample their generous mp3 offerings, sign the guest book and insist they get their earlier CDRs back in print.

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Review of Respect in You
by Andrew Bartlett
Coda | September, 2005

Hailing from Rochester, New York, The Respect Sextet sounds like some enthusiastic cousin of Boston’s Either/Orchestra or San Francisco’s Club Foot Orchestra. Here’s why: Respect is, obviously, a collective endeavor, but they’ve refused to drop anchor in one musical spot. They open Respect in You with undersung Chicago tenor champ Fred Anderson’s “3 on 2,” which moves in undulations led, fittingly, by Josh Rutner’s tenor. It’s a bold opener, because it doesn’t chug but rather sets a wavy, episodic mood. And this brings the Respect crew back toward the methodologies of Club Foot and Either/Orchestra, bands that are comfortable playing rollicking, driving tunes or atmospheric film scores. Respect isn’t content to simply set moods, though. They barrel and swing through trumpeter Eli Asher’s “Nation’s Capital” and Rutner’s “Postal,” both designed to show the band’s ability to push rhythms with frontal horn leadership. Asher’s trumpet can fray and spatter only to fatten again in a second, and Rutner’s tenor favors a warm middle that serves the band superbly. For his part, Matt Clohesy’s bass is nimble in the highs and rumbly where the need for breadth is prominent. Drummer Ted Poor follows suit, snapping off snare runs with a relish that also feeds his more shadowy rhythmic pushes. In short, he and the rest of the band have a fine ear for range. They make the great pianist Misha Mengleberg’s [sic] early piece, “Hypochrismutreefuzz,” sound like a chamber work that’s scrabbling for clarity even as it builds and builds the ear’s anticipation. Then the band takes over as a unit, with pianist Red Wierenga comping like Misha, Poor riffing on his hi-hat, and an aerated whiff of noise emerging from a wayward transistor radio. Often spacious, and equally often crowded with boisterous passion, Respect in You revels in some great post-free, architecturally exciting play.

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Review of Respect In You
by Nate Dorward

This is easily the most exciting jazz disc I’ve heard this year. The jokey bandname is perhaps off-putting, but just sample the whirling 15-minute version of Fred Anderson’s “3 on 2” at the start and you’ll see why these guys (Josh Rutner, Eli Asher, James Hirschfield, Red Wierenga, Matt Clohesy, Ted Poor) are special: the piece emerges out of fuzzy radio haze and an a cappella tenor solo, and then it digs in hard, but with a kind of narrative approach, the band members constantly rethinking their relation with either other, burying melancholy song within layers of intensity, letting the groove evolve and smooth out and tauten (Ted Poor is a marvel at the drumkit). There’s one other cover – Misha Mengelberg’s “Hypochrismutreefuzz” – and some excellent originals, including the finest multifaceted essay on the blues I’ve heard since Paul Smoker’s 15-minute “St Louis Blues” on Genuine Fables.

First disc of the year I’m giving a ***** to.

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Review of The Full Respect
by Michael Rosenstein
Cadence Magazine | April 2004

Based on this first official release, the Rochester, NY-based Respect Sextet is one of those hometown secrets that deserve wider exposure. The group of Eastman School of Music grads honed their chops and collective approach to improvisation at a weekly gig at a local coffee bar, and the results are amply displayed. In just under an hour, they squeeze in eighteen tunes that jump from skewed swing to whacked-out rags to blues stomps to free improv to bent tunes that hint at Balkan modalities or Latin rhythms and even a wry quote of the Mentos ad jingle. The three-horn front line of trombonist James Hirschfeld, reed player Josh Rutner, and trumpeter Eli Asher lock in together and rock the heck out of the compact themes. They can sound tight and polite on a piece like “Jazz Is Dead But Sometimes I Like to Take a Chance with Skeletons” (sic), which harkens back to Ellington’s small bands. They can take Charlie Parker’s theme from “Moose the Mooche,” start it out straight, and then slowly morph it into “Mooch Too Early,” a wry deconstruction egged on by Red Wierenga’s piano. There is a Breukerish sense of play in the sauntering “Doo Rag” which leads in to the lilting tango of “Cartel,” the only extended foray on the release. Here, the horns take turns stretching out on melodious solos over Wierenga’s organ-like accordion. The six are also comfortable with pushing things totally out with a series of interspersed free collective improvisations. Throughout, bassist Malcolm Kirby and drummer Ted Poor lock in on the constantly shifting meters, turning things on a dime and kicking the group along. This band would clearly be a kick to see live. The fact that they can put these diverse threads together into a coherent whole is a credit to the entire ensemble, making for an impressive debut.

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Review of The Full Respect | November 2003

Throwing this disc into your CD player feels like walking into a really great party, a room full of beautiful, laughing people. And like a good party, by the end of the record, you are left pleasantly dizzy and exhausted. The Respect Sextet draws on all sorts of influences, a philosophy where “everything is respected and anything is grist for the musical mill.” Here that could translate into bouts of klezmer-like merriment, rag-time tempos, latin beats, you get the picture… A bonus in the middle of the disc of innovative, often quirky tracks is a fabulous “intermission” cover of the Mentos commercial theme song.

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Review of The Full Respect
by Chad Oliveiri
City Newspaper | September 3, 2003

There’s something completely un-Eastman about the Respect Sextet. Sure, the relatively young group was formed within the confines of Rochester’s most famous school of music, But the sense of adventurousness that pervades Respect’s ecstatic improvisations won’t be found in standard Eastman curriculum. There’s just not much here that can be taught. Period. Shortly after forming, the members of Respect quickly figured that the best way to achieve the goals of performing near-telepathic improvised jazz was to play, play, play. So they booked a standing weekly gig at Java’s on Gibbs Street. And they held on to that gig for two years.

So, in many ways, the band’s first official studio release, The Full Respect, is a culmination of all those live workouts, where the band eventually grew comfortable enough to throw caution by the wayside. On Full Respect, all those outlandish musical gestures and experiments are distilled into a frighteningly efficient package. Free jazz mingles alongside odd “standards.” Tinges of Latin and Bulgarian music creep through. A raft of “little instruments”–an obvious homage to The Art Ensemble of Chicago–contribute humor and complexity.

The Full Respect gives listeners a change to soak in these sounds, to pick apart these wild improvisations and compositions through repeated listening.

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Review of (respectacle.)
by Chad Oliveiri
City Newspaper | August 21, 2002

This self-released limited-edition CDR reveals just how far this Eastman student-led group has come in its relatively short time together. It also reveals how today’s Eastman students are finding their influences in places far removed from the conservatory. Touchpoints here revolve mostly around AACM Chicago jazz (the Art Ensemble leaves its indelible impression all over “sechs,” a wonderful demonstration of Respect’s improvising) and just about anything on Okka Disc. But there’s plenty here to lend Respect Sextet its fair share of individuality. The accordion that introduces “cartel” sounds a bit too far afield until it becomes the piece’s melodic backbone. Other shots of adventurous instrumentation keep things interesting as the group veers from deep rhythmic workouts to open drones and hilarious vaudeville.

Like any decent jazz sextet, Respect is capable of sounding like many different bands on the same record. It goes without saying that we’re lucky to have them in our own backyard.

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