Scott Dubois: Landscape Scripture (2012)
Guitarist, Scott DuBois has taken a masterly turn with Landscape Scripture, an extended piece that carries aural impressions of one of Claude Monet's famous series of paintings, "Haystacks." The renowned French master had conceived of his pastoral exhibit in a series of 25 canvases that looked at the iconic sculptures of hay at different times of day, and at different times of the year. DuBois has created his suite around aspects of the paintings depicted by the four seasons and turned out a romantic impression of these paintings. It may not have been easy to think of the guitarist as a seasoned impressionist until this record. But here, DuBois will surprise many.
Using aural dynamics to depict the visual aspect of light falling on inner ear, DuBois creates gorgeous meditations in both earthy tones and heavenly hues. The drama of his work intensifies with his use of woodwinds bass and drums, a somewhat interesting challenge, considering that his setting for the music is peaceful and altogether static, albeit suggestive of visually gentle to vigorous movement. As it would in the annual turn of events, the record begins with a contemplative look at "Spring Haystacks." DuBois' guitar bubbles over with spritely flurries of notes and harmonic overtones, as he seduces the bass into a hypnotic whirring duet. Meanwhile, the swirl of reedman Gebhard Ullmann's bass clarinet notes emerges in diaphanous sheets of sound playing counterpoint to the guitar as drummer Kresten Osgood uses overlapping splashes of cymbals and fibrillating drum skins to complete the joyous setting.
The pace and setting is altogether warmer and suggestive of more riotous colors and tones in "Summer Haystacks," and the melody here, too, is reminiscent of folk songs almost de rigueur in the season of gaiety and sunshine. The descending structure of "Autumn Haystacks" mimics the shedding of leaves, brisk winds and an earth of bronze and gold glinting in a the cooler light of the sun. "Winter Haystacks" is composed of hushed notes from a deeply meditative bass clarinet, set against a shriller guitar, while the drums and bass echo the imminent arrival of bleak snowdrifts.
This powerful suite is interspersed with mini-suites connecting the four seasons. "Prairie Suite" and "Lakeshore Suite" contain powerful imagery of the sweeping vistas of the American Midwest, while "Goodbye" and "Passing Spirit" are shorter works noteworthy for their thematic connection to DuBois' overall meditation on the Monet works. All four interconnecting pieces are markedly beautiful for their compositional elegance and myriad moods. It is also rare for four different musicians to come together in such complete empathy with a work of singular complexity. This intensity of the playing on each musician's part contributes to the memorableness of the composition and, therefore, the entire record.
Track Listing: Spring Haystacks; Prairie Suite; Goodbye; Summer Haystacks; Lake Shore Suite; Autumn Haystacks; Passing Spirit; Winter Haystacks.
Personnel: Scott DuBois: guitar; Gebhard Ullmann: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Thomas Morgan: bass; Kresten Osgood: drums.
Record Label: Sunnyside Records