The Jeff Gauthier Goatette: One And The Same (2006)
Eschewing staid fusion tropes, the group avoids flashy virtuosity and endless jamming in favor of delicate introspective ballads, expansive psychedelic excursions, folksy waltz melodies and bracing but restrained free jazz workouts. By trading relentless electronic turmoil for nuanced lyricism and melodious abstraction, Gauthier proves that elation needn't come at the cost of beauty. Channeling the acoustic work of Oregon and the early electronic experiments of Weather Report, One And The Same weaves a subtle but invigorating tapestry.
Gauthier even coaxes out an understated side of Nels Cline's typically explosive playing, providing a showcase for some of his most delicate fretwork. Cline's resplendent statement on "Heart Wisdom" illuminates his capacity for rich lyricism. His own tune, "Don't Answer That," demonstrates solid jazz chops with a jittery, fragmented solo. But Nels isn't totally subdued; he and Alex go head to head on the invigorating opening of "Rina, Part 1." "Ahfufat" is even wilderlooped and delayed guitar shards commingle with Witham's spacey Fender Rhodes-like extraterrestrial distress signals.
The leader's own playing is tuneful, measured and refined. Resisting the urge to break into double-timed abandon over the roiling undercurrent of "Ahfufat," Gauthier shows restraint, his violin soaring lithely over the tumultuous miasma. With equitable leadership, he arranges a string of vivacious solos for the group on the jaunty free bop of "Don't Answer That." But atmospheric introspection reigns supreme, and "A Corner of Morning" closes the album on a lyrical, melancholy note. Featuring two sublime covers from the late Eric Von Essen and a haunting interpretation of Bennie Maupin's "Water Torture" (one of Herbie Hancock's early Sextant pieces), Gauthier establishes his lineage with the past.
Jeff Gauthier's work stands apart from his contemporaries not simply by what he does, but what he chooses not to do. Favoring elegance and splendor over pyrotechnics and intensity, Gauthier is an island in a sea of imitators.
Track Listing: Ahfufat; Solflicka; Water Torture; Don't Answer That; Heart Wisdom; Rina Pt. 1; A Corner of Morning.
Personnel: Jeff Gauthier: violin, electric 4 and 5 string violins, effects; Nels Cline: electric guitars, effects; David Witham: piano, keyboards, effects; Joel Hamilton: bass; Alex Cline: drums, percussion.
Record Label: Cryptogramophone
Style: Modern Jazz