Daniel Bennett Group: Peace & Stability Among Bears (2011)
Multi-instrumentalist Daniel Bennett concludes his trilogy of fables about bears, deepening his unique mixture of jazz, folk, minimalism and trance musics with Peace & Stability Among Bears. Following melodic exploration as the main idea, Bennett combines lightness and subtlety with dreamlike passages that define his particular sound universe. Entertaining and complex, Peace & Stability Among Bears keeps pouring fresh ideas into the jazz world. Polyphony, catchy melodies, African-tinged percussion and open door folk atmospheres all form part of an organic album that always keeps moving.
Peace and Stability Among Bears is happy albumlaidback and optimistic, but never fully satisfying, always with a pulling hypnotic air that keeps escaping. Throughout these 10 original short compositions, the members of the group understand each other perfectly, working together for the resulting effect. "The Local Sheriff" sets the mood and demonstrates some of the key clues of the disc, the melodic interaction between Bennett, on alto saxophone, and guitarist Chris Hersh following a circular pattern that is present throughout the whole album. "Arizona," with its cool flavor, gives the music a new twist. The opening guitar chords and the delicate clarinet sound create a peaceful mellow mood that perfectly flows into the inspiring airy melody. The result is the culmination of Bennett's folk jazz with echoes of country and early jazz. "Andrew Variations" is worth noting for its play around a shaky stability and the use of repetition as a means of exploration. "The Village" is the darkest tune, a growing intensity struggle that builds up in oppressive layers. The album ends with "Bears in a Covered Wagon," reminiscent of fusion with its funky electric feel.
As for the bears, it's interesting to think about them as a metaphor to be interpreted personally. Peace & Stability Among Bears, while not initially an easy album to listen to, grows pleasing. This conceptual bear universe trilogy offers a fascinating world to enter but does not overwhelm with certainty or truth attempts.
Track Listing: The Local Sheriff; The Lost Treasure Of Lunta; Arizona; Ghost; Andrew Variations; Dogs Of Our Time; Farmer Joe Was A Bear; The Village; Open; Bears In A Covered Wagon.
Personnel: Daniel Bennett: alto saxophone, flute, clarinet; Chris Hersch: guitar; Jason Davis: bass; Rick Landwehr: drums.