Trumpeter Erik Jekabson likes to stroll through San Francisco's DeYoung Museum and imagine what the visual works there would sound like. In league with his Sting-tet ensemble, he explores the textures and colors, the harmonies and melodies of these artworks, translating them into sounds on Anti-Mass. Teaming with violin, viola, saxophone, bass and drum, and with the occasional addition of vibes, he paints a vibrant variety of sounds that stretch from chamber jazz to third stream, from avant-garde to The Big Easy.
"Silence" opens with a subtle swell of strings punctuated by a clean sustain of drummer Smith Dobson's vibes, before Jekabson makes a methodically majestic statement, a brief introduction to the music that segues into "Strontium," the aural image of a bright, noisy and bustling cityscape, the horn and saxophone dancing and elbowing each other over the wailing strings.
The CD's centerpiece is the magnificent, fifteen minute-plus title tune, with its fractured opening moving into a section of classical-sounding deliberation, evolving into a feisty, swinging New Orleans jam and then slipping into something sounding like an outtake from a hoedown.
"Portrait of Miss D" is the sound of a jazzy, swinging lady, the horns straight-ahead and the strings injecting a mood of violinist Stephane Grappelli's Hot Club De France. The strings are in the center with a dark gleam on "The Cello Player," while "To Be DeYoung Again" drives hard with buoyant energy. The closing "Afternoon on the Sea, Monaghan" showcases saxophonist Dayna Stephens' gorgeously pensive and poetic blowing.
The DeYoung Museum houses a wide array of visual artworks. Jekabson has taken them in, and with the help of his String-tet has translated some of the sights into a beautiful set of sounds that are not easily categorized.
Silence; Strontium; Park Stroll; A New Beginning; Interlude 1; Anti-Mass; Interlude 2; Portrait of Miss D; The Cello Player; To Be DeYoung Again; Afternoon on the Sea; Monhegan.
Erik Jekabosn: trumpet, flugelhorn (4), vibes (11); Dayna Stephens: tenor saxophone; Mads Tolling: violin; Charith Prewardhana: viola; John Witala: bass; Smith Dobson: drums, vibes (1, 5, 7).