Nicolas Masson: Yellow (A Little Orange) (2004)
As is implied by the title, Yellow (A Little Orange) can be perceived as one thing at first glanceperhaps an attempt at the avant-garde by a group of talented young musicians but, when dissected further, holding much more complexity than simply one color tone.
This recording is a second for the Nicolas Masson Quartet and shows a type of maturity in modern music that is sought after by many musicians and listeners alike. Swiss Masson, here on tenor sax and bass clarinet, has the makings of a great player. His talents, a trio of quality NYC musicians and striking original compositions are a perfect blend. Russ Johnson (trumpet) is in particularly fine forma beautifully melodic and yet harmonically challenging solo on the title track is an ideal complement to the dissonant melody and feel of the tune. Eivind Opsvik (bass) and Gerald Cleaver (drums) blend together so nicely that the absence of a purely harmonic instrument is never noticed.
Yellow (A Little Orange) is surprisingly, and appropriately, melodic at times, too. "Zelig is a gorgeous piece that manages to maintain the modern mentality of the album through its chordal structure and solo by the leader. Juxtapose that with the opening track, "Good Buddy, and its highly atonal contemporary feel and a listener is left with an album that is not afraid to venture into different idioms while holding on to its original voice.
So what at first looks like simply avant-garde turns out to be that and much more. Masson's quartet is a group of innovative and talented musicians that not only seem willing, but eager, to push boundaries in both directions.
Track Listing: Good Buddy; Yellow (A Little Orange); Zelig; Gingko; Sleepless; Shabu; Spurv; Gnarly; So Long.
Personnel: Nicolas Masson: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Russ Johnson: trumpet; Eivind Opsvik: bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums.