Rob Mosher's Storytime: The Tortoise (2008)
The compelling debut of Canadian-born, New York-based reed man and self-taught composer Rob Mosher is a thematic composition for his 10-piece ensemble Storytime. Using Storytime, featuring young composers and reed men Sam Sadigursky and Peter Hess, Mosher succeeds in orchestrating vividly sophisticated, highly melodic suite-like musical stories. These cinematic narratives reflect Mosher's diverse influences, ranging from Claude Debussy and Kurt Weill to Gil Evans and Wayne Shorter, while still bearing his singular compositional voice. The title represents Mosher's method of working, taking his time and following his myriad of ideas to completion.
The opener, "On A Clear Day," in addition to other short pieces on The Tortoise, suggests a Weill-esque playful jazz romp, but equally the lush orchestration owes much to Gil Evans. Mosher's chamber-like arrangements embrace the beautiful storytelling lines of flugelhornist Micah Killion while leaving enough room for other members of the ensemble to explore its theme and shine around him. Mosher follows with the light-hearted Latin-flavored "The Sands Of Maundune," featuring a breezy guitar solo from Nir Felder, while on " Sleepless Lullaby" he offers a beautiful wind arrangement that encompasses a moving duet between bassist Garth Stevenson's arco and Felder's acoustic guitar. "Jupiter" possesses a complex, multi-layered texture that references the modernist post-bop compositions of Shorter, with Mosher's assured playing on soprano sax.
"Twilight" was inspired by a walk in Central Park and features Felder's atmospheric Hawaiian slide guitar, surfing through a graceful and rich arrangement that offers a visual and colorful narrative of that walk. "Silhouette of the Man in the Fog" retains the same visual vein, with a film noir-esque touch and expressive solos from Mosher on English horn and Brian Landrus on baritone sax. "March Of The Elephants" again shows Mosher's masterful and nuanced impressionist chamber wind arrangement, highlighting the clear voices of trombonist Michael Fahie, Sadigursky on flute, Mosher on oboe and Hess on clarinet. "The Forgotten" is a vehicle for Hess' extended tenor sax solo, delivered over the ensemble's detailed performance. "Farewell, Goodbye" is a gentle and beautiful closer to this series of cinematic suites.
Mosher is a gifted composer who offers a fresh and updated approach to the innovations of the Third Stream. His ensemble is a force to be reckoned with, and Mosher intends a follow-up with an extended group that will add banjo, violin, cello tuba and operatic baritone to Storytime's already rich palette.
Track Listing: On a Clear Day; The Sands of Maundune; Sleepless Lullaby; Jupiter; What Snowflakes Are Plotting; Twilight; Silhouette of the Man in the Fog; The Tall Tales of Todd Toven; March of the Elephants; Joy; The Forgotten; 1920's Car Chase; Farewell, Goodbye.
Personnel: Rob Mosher: soprano saxophone, oboe, English horn; Sam Sadigursky: flute, piccolo, clarinet, alto saxophone; Peter Hess: clarinet, tenor saxophone; Brian Landrus: bass clarinet, baritone saxophone; Micah Killion: trumpet, flugelhorn; Rachel Drehmann: French horn; Michael Fahie: trombone; Nir Felder: acoustic and electric guitar; Garth Stevenson: acoustic bass; Ziv Ravitz: drums and percussion.