The Scott Dubois Quintet can be considered an avant-garde band, but its latest record, Tempest
, is a testament to just how accessible and captivating "experimental music can be. There are tunes on the album for the more meditative thinker as well as for someone who just wants to enjoy the various moods and tones that the record evokes.
"Wander, the second track on the disc, shows off Dubois' ability to perform compelling duets. It begins with an encounter between David Liebman on Indian flute and Dubois on acoustic guitar. Their meeting is alluringly sluggish and Dubois tends to stay that way throughout the song while the rest of the band slowly emerges from its own lethargy. As the song progresses, a saxophone voice struggles to rise, to mature, but Dubois keeps a stubborn swagger in his strumming that is both fascinatingly erudite and achingly attractive. By the end, the guitar and saxophone settle into the same sloth-like movements of the guitar-Indian flute duet that opened the tune.
Though Dubois takes a prominent role in "Wander, he also writes more expansive and flexible compositions with his band mates in mind. "Burst is an example of this, as well as the way Dubois' compositions can be avant-garde without veering off the road ahead too much. Alto saxophonist Loren Stillman improvises broodingly, igniting a dialogue between various instruments, which is sometimes amusingly elliptical but often intriguing and pensive.
The final song, "Brooklyn, is strikingly modern, in a sense. Dubois plays the electric guitar to great effect, adapting the same swagger he had in "Wander. "Brooklyn is also a great showcase for drummer Mark Ferber and bassist Thomas Morgan's proficiency on their respective instruments and also their dynamic together: Morgan's bass notes are sparse yet full of meaning, while Ferber's drum playing is swift and enthusiastica telling portrayal of the juxtapositions in the title borough.
On Tempest, Dubois, who composed all the songs, is extremely aware of his role as bandleader: never quite overshadowing his mates, he often embarks on fruitful duets or melds seamlessly into the rhythm section, occasionally soloing to climax certain tunes. As a composer, Dubois has an invaluable skill: he can write weighty songs that don't overburden the listener. The result is a record that is avant-garde without all the cloudy density.
Personnel: Scott Dubois: electric & acoustic guitars; David Liebman: tenor & soprano saxophones, Indian flute; Loren Stillman: alto & soprano saxophones; Jason Rigby: tenor & soprano saxophones; Thomas Morgan: bass; Mark Ferber: drums.