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Brian McCarthy Nonet: After|Life


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Brian McCarthy Nonet: After|Life
Saxophonist Brian McCarthy, not one to shy away from a big theme, draws inspiration from the creation of the universe to craft After|Life

Science says we are all stardust, compiled ultimately in all its complexities via gravity. Given that, he opens this expansive octet offering with "Nebula," referring to cosmic gasses consisting of hydrogen and deep space dust that—given gravity's propensities—coalesce into stars and solar systems consisting of planets with water, landforms and eventually us. Or something like us, depending on the different environments and the paths that separate evolutions may take.

McCarthy's "Nebula" is drone-like, unformed, drifting, shot through with gentle, random piano notes. Like stars blinking on. Let there be light. "The Beginning," begins with a crisp drumbeat, the clockwork of mathematical courses of the rotations and revolutions of the planets and their moons. McCarthy's jubilant alto sax enters, signifying, perhaps, the emergence of life. And the jubilance gathers in a hard-blowing nonet fashion—four reeds, a trumpet. With a trombone in the mix—for its gravitational pull....?

These are grand ideas. McCarthy has latched onto them and created grand music. The rhythm section—drummer Jared Schonig, bassist Matt Aronoff and pianist Justin Kauflin—sit in as the center of this solar system, in an understated but spot-on way. The blowing in the solo spots is inspired; the arrangements are majestic.

The three-part, thirty-two-minute "After | Life Suite"—with the exception of the "bonus track,," wraps things up. "Movement I" swings free and easy, sounding like dusk after a satisfying day, sitting with a cold drink on the patio after much has been accomplished. "Movement II" sounds like a night fallen, peaceful and relaxed; "Movement III" bounces on a funky bass groove which invites a happy dance, with the trumpet and saxophone in an inspired call-and- response mode.

Then there is the bonus, "Lucy," named for the 2021 NASA space mission sent out to study the formation of the solar system, itself named for our grandmother Lucy, the early hominid discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. It is a looking back, a searching on both accounts, billions of years on the one hand, a bit over three billion on the other. A beautiful, introspective and reverential ending.

Track Listing

Nebula; The Beginning; Flux; Kepler's Law; After|Life Suite: Movement I; Movement II; Movement III; Lucy.


Album information

Title: After|Life | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Truth Revolution Recording Collective



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