While Steve Hudson is still the group's nominal leader, their name has evolved from the Steve Hudson Quintet on Outer Bridge
(Self Published, 2005) to its current Steve Hudson's Outer Bridge Ensemble on this equally engaging sophomore release, Seamless
. The total time (forty-one minutes) might be on the short side, but there is nary an extra note and you end up wanting more.
The quintet has remained intact, which is saying something in these times, but with the compositional contributions now including drummer David Freeman ("Klezmer" and "Heavy Shit") and bassist Michael Noordzy ("Misunderstanding At The Baitshop," "Fishing Accident," "Chum On Eileen" and "Seamless Gutters), besides keyboardist Steve Hudson.
The group's attitude and ethos has also remained the same: combine influences from far and wide including klezmer, classical Indian, some Latin, straight-ahead and outside jazz and anything else that tickles their fancy, mix it together, add a dash of humor and give it a twist before serving. Keep it accessible but serious and yet quirky enough to raise the eyebrows and bring on the smiles.
The strengths of reed players Mark DeJong (alto sax, clarinet) and Tom Buckelew (bass clarinet and clarinet) again play a crucial part in the band's sound. They play very well together and while they both can get the pure sound of the first record, the music here allows them to expand their timbral repertoire.
Outer Bridge is not a blowing band, but one of collective improvisation that maintains a cohesion as each tune maintains its own logical unpredictability. When the tunes are collected into a set, the unpredictability is but expanded, so you might as well have fun while each setup is dashed on the rocks.
What this band has created is quite wonderfulan identity based on a working methodology rather than a particular sound. Each track has its own charms, its own emphasis, its own sound and logic. The result is a record that is quite cool, hip, heavy, serious and
fun, making it a winner that it is easy to play over and over.
Personnel: Mark DeJong: alto saxophone, clarinet; Tom Buckelew: bass clarinet, clarinet; Steve Hudson: piano, melodica; Mike Noordzy: bass; David Freeman: drums, percussion.