Suresh Singaratnam: Lost in New York (2010)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
The breathtaking narrative of Lost in New York is couched in an abstract interplay between performers and their instruments, as they describe what must have been a most challenging newcomer's journey to that often forbidding city. Trumpeter Suresh Singaratnam's high-wire act documents every nuance with some of the most rarefied excursions to emerge from a horn. An astute observer of his own life and those around him, Singaratnam allows the angst of being, and observing, to permeate the heated rush of each breath that powers his horn, his masterful undulations like demons and angels coming to life. In his interaction with the tenor saxophone and piano, his demands for inclusion are much like Miles Davis,' coaxing those around him to wake up to the rhythm of life. His singular voice could easily emerge as a new bloodline.
Singaratnam tells a racy story with uniquely detailed visuals and sub-plots, and he dwells in the nocturnal rather than bask in the city's sun-swept hours. "Beneath the Smile" is a song that barely reveals more than lips seen in half-light, almost gaslight. Even "Spring for All But Me" has a grim sub-text and plays out with pathos rather than a see-you-sometime-soon kind of phrasing. And should "Chrysanthemum" be in bloom, it is admired with gloomy eyes rather than with the catching of the breath. "Fortress of Song" and "Remnants of Eternity" are beautiful, architecturally constructed songs, but while the former is tactile, the latterdespite keen attention to detailis rather remote and hard to imagine, even as otherworldly and ethereal.
Still, Lost in New York is a beautifully constructed series of charts. It might have worked better had they been interconnected, more in the style of a larger symphonic structure, or perhaps with a libretto to underscore some of its parts. In any event, Suresh Singaratnam plays with assured style and substance, and his voice can only get stronger as he undertakes more challenging and complex music. As a trumpeter and a stylist, he is in a class by himself, clear as a bell, with a burnished tone as unique as it is resonant and unforgettable.
Track Listing: Temporal Incursions; M104; Beneath the Smile; Spring for All But Me; Chrysanthemum; Fortress of Song; Remnants of Eternity; She Spoke Well; Peripheral Fission.
Personnel: Suresh Singaratnam: trumpet; Jake Saslow: tenor saxophone; Jesse Lewis: guitar; Fabian Almazan: piano; Fraser Hollins: bass; Lee Pearson: drums; Charenée Wade: vocals (4); Jamie Reynolds: piano (4).
Record Label: Self Produced