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Gypsy Schaeffer: Portamental (2006)

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Gypsy Schaeffer: Portamental How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Based in Boston, Gypsy Schaeffer is a modern jazz quartet that marches to a different drummer. The unique and forward-leaning foursome brings a fresh sound to the forum, exploring jazz from various angles.

The band's instrumentation stands apart from the hoi polloi of jazz. Without a chording instrument like the piano or guitar, Gypsy Schaeffer is able to create harmonic structures through alternative means. Bass, saxophone and trombone weave delicate lines to depict modal harmonies as well as standard chordal frameworks. They're totally free in their work, bringing each layer of harmony into focus naturally.

Everybody solos at length, and the quartet merges its collective improvisation together maximally. The band's free improvisation proves adventurous, yet its music swings. Each selection is an original. "Mummer's Day features a down-home New Orleans swagger, while "Portamental swoops casually with the heft and drive of the avant-garde. "Ponus Ridge pushes forward at an incredibly fast pace, while "Time Management varies its rhythmic approaches. This latter piece, composed by the band's drummer, proves complex in its building-block foundation, but easy on the ears.

Gypsy Schaeffer makes a point of preserving lyrical beauty in their work while bringing us plenty of food for the imagination. Highly recommended, the group's latest album comes as a blessing to jazz's modern mainstream.

Track Listing: Under Construction; Mummers Day; Faces in the Sand; Time Management; Sleep; Ponus Ridge; I; Schemin; Ugly Hand; Portamental.

Personnel: Andy Voelker: soprano, alto and tenor saxophone; Joel Yennior: trombone; Jef Charland: bass; Chris Punis: drums.

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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