Home » Jazz Articles » Aaron Irwin Quartet: A Room Forever

1

Album Review

Aaron Irwin Quartet: A Room Forever

By

Sign in to view read count
Aaron Irwin Quartet: A Room Forever
Reedman Aaron Irwin is a very ambitious composer and on his latest, A Room Forever, shows how to plumb emotional depths with subtlety and grace.

The inspiration for this music is the short stories by Breece Dexter John Pancake, sometimes written Breece D'J Pancake, the spelling of which comes from a typo in the Atlantic Magazine. Pancake lived to be only twenty- six and died by his own hand; his stories focus on his native West Virginia and its people, highly regarded posthumously for stories which can be sampled here.

However, the record liner itself is completely devoid of any of these connections and, although the bell cannot be unrung, the music does stand on its own, without making any overt references to the Appalachia of the stories. The twelve tracks share the titles of Pancake's twelve stories, each being a very carefully constructed vignette that manages to hide Irwin's expertise. The balance between the composed and improvised is finely wrought, making the line between them virtually invisible, with the only giveaway being larger structure which is uses the familiar recapitulation.

The band is drummerless, and indeed drums would have been intrusive: Irwin on clarinet, trombonist Matthew McDonald, guitarist Pete McCann and Thomson Kneeland on bass. McDonald appeared on Irwin's 2011 Vicious World: Plays The Music Of Rufus Wainwright. Given the transparency of the music, every voice is equally important, starting with Irwin's crystal-clear and virtually reedless tone. McCann is know for his versatility and supplies many different guitar styles and sounds. McDonald's trombone tone hides behind a veil, becoming very emotional when he steps forward, and then blending in with Irwin when asked. Kneeland's bass fills the bottom and becomes propulsive when needs be; McCann and Kneeland can hardly be called the "rhythm section."

While the tracks vary in mood, much of the music is mournfully pretty, but with a touch of both resoluteness and ennui (see "The Mark"). The title tune is outright eerie, as is "Time And Again."

The cumulative effect of A Room Forever is a quiet intensity, almost an eavesdropping of a private conversation. Emotionally complex while being aurally transparent, the music ends up feeling like an long-gone acquaintance who has been missed, but whose newly-found presence is immediately comfortable. Strange, but wonderful.

Track Listing

A Room Forever; In The Dry; The Salvation of Me; The Way It Has To Be; Trilobites; The First Day of Winter; The Honored Dead; Fox Hunters; The Scrapper; Hollow; Time And Again; The Mark.

Personnel

Aaron Irwin: clarinet; Matthew McDonald: trombone; Pete McCann: guitar; Thomson Kneeland: bass.

Album information

Title: A Room Forever | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced

Post a comment about this album


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Tags

More

Cookin’ with Jaws and the Queen: The Legendary...
Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Shirley Scott
Warm Up
The Don Rendell / Ian Carr Quintet

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.