Scott McLemore: Remote Location (2012)
A change of scenery is a change of sound. At least, this seems to be case with the Virginia-born drummer Scott McLemore, who has been a vital presence on the music scene in New York, but now is part of the significantly smaller, but nevertheless bourgeoning Icelandic jazz community.
When McLemore released Found Music on Fresh Sound New Talent in 2006, he enlisted a group of likeminded musicians who reflected the dynamic pulse of the city. Especially saxophonist Tony Malaby, who helped to shape the aesthetic of the record with a tone that embodied a searching brand of advanced post-modern swing with plenty of room for rhythmical surprises.
On Remote Location, McLemore has allied himself with a stylist just as strong as Malaby, albeit with a decidedly softer approach. Óscar Gudjonsson's control of timbre is impressive as he gently sings himself through the balladic "Secrets of the Earth," with a porous sensitivity balanced by pianist Sunna Gunnlaugs' rich chordal voicings and guitarist Andrés Thor's finely tuned sense of melody.
Silence and space play an important role on an album that is far removed from the urban environment. Instead, the music sometimes seems to grow silently like flowers cracking through ice, but it never becomes dull. Beneath the tranquility, there's plenty of movement that evolves organically from the structure of the compositions, where melodic motifs are explored in detail.
There's clearly an inspiration from the Nordic/ECM tradition, which is also acknowledged on "Balkelero," a composite of two of McLemore's Norwegian inspirations: the group Masqualero and composer/pianist Jon Balke. McLemore combines the sense of silence and open space with shrewd rhythmical breaks and between rattling percussion and tentative bass lines, a shimmering melody rises.
Remote Location reflects an artist that has changed place and sound, and developed the advanced urban grooves of the past into a more subdued and lyrical sound, but there's also a sense of history and continuation. At its heart, Found Music remains a lyrical record, and Remote Location retains much of its predecessor's rhythmical propulsion, only it now speaks as a sophisticated undercurrent.
Track Listing: Remote Location; Secrets of Earth; Citizen Sitting Zen; Una Danza En La Cocina; Charlottesville; Dunegrass; Woods At Night; Waking; Balkelero; Don't Miss the Signs; Movement for Motian.
Personnel: Scott McLemore: drums; Óskar Guðjónsson: tenor sax; Andrés Thor: accoustic and electric guitar; Sunna Gunnlaugs: piano and wurlitzer; Róbert Þórhallsson: contrabass, electric and acoustic bass guitar.
Record Label: Sunny Sky
Style: Modern Jazz