All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

173

Vinson Valega: Biophilia

By

Sign in to view read count
Vinson Valega is a devoted environmental and progressive activist who seems engaged with his craft on an aesthetic level but also, it seems, in a profoundly logical, moral way. The drummer's compositions sound significant, as if every note were saying something, down to the slightest tap of the drumstick. This is not to say his records are wholly serious products: Valega demonstrates that quirk and laughter have their place alongside order and gravitas.

The strength of Biophilia lies in that its selection of songs work with each other, performed—perhaps even defined—in relation to each other. "Strange" is a tight little interlude that lasts less than a minute but serves as a promising buffer that delivers listeners to the last two tracks, which conceptually close off the record. The sweetness of "I Just Wanted To See What You Look Like" and "Charm" (the former more than five minutes long, the latter less than one) counteract with the unapologetically tart "Day By Day." The record sounds tight and easy and fresh, though it's clear that the easiness is facilitated by preparation and the freshness necessitated by an unwavering commitment to compositional order. "Sunset and the Mockingbird" is an Ellington piece that sounds like a reinterpretation with the softer crescendos and the sharper, dagger-like sax notes that puncture through the rhythmic layers. That eases into "A Moment of Silence," which is anything but. The piece is a frenetic assembly of yearning—the piano scattering in the opening notes, the elegant and restrained cascading that's tempered by the almost intimidating drums about a third into the song.

Harmonic dexterity is one thing, orchestral ambition is another. But listening to a track like "Let" causes the listener to feel viscerally moved by the phantom sax and piano notes that seem to merge slowly, almost imperceptibly, into something accessible, groovy and memorable that seems finished. You begin to think that if the piece closes at any one of two or three possible ending points throughout its length, it would be fine because it's had its say and said it well. The piano and drums come in humbly, begging to differ, challenging what's there and promising there are better moments to come.

Track Listing: I Knew You'd Say That; Sunset and the Mockingbird; A Moment of Silence; Biophilia; Let; Day By Day; Kathelin Gray; I Just Wanted to See What You Look Like; Charm; November Spring; Always; Talk Time; Strange; Think of One; Doesn't It Feel Great To Be Alive?.

Personnel: Vinson Valega: drums; Anton Denner: alto sax; Chris Bacas: tenor sax; Mark Miller: trombone; Matthew Fries: piano; Gary Wang: bass.

Title: Biophilia | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Consilience Productions

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

A Moment of Silence

A Moment of Silence

Vinson Valega
Biophilia

The Trend Is Your Friend

The Trend Is Your Friend

Vinson Valega
Awake

Long & Wrong

Long & Wrong

Vinson Valega
Consilience

CD/LP/Track Review
Liner Notes
Take Five With...
CD/LP/Track Review
  • Awake by Mark F. Turner
Megaphone
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Biophilia

Biophilia

Consilience Productions
2010

buy
Awake

Awake

Consilience Productions
2007

buy
Consilience

Consilience

Consilience Productions
2004

buy

Related Articles

Read Postcard Collection CD/LP/Track Review
Postcard Collection
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 21, 2018
Read Der Dichter Spricht CD/LP/Track Review
Der Dichter Spricht
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: June 21, 2018
Read Dodecahedron CD/LP/Track Review
Dodecahedron
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 21, 2018
Read The Chopin Project CD/LP/Track Review
The Chopin Project
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 21, 2018
Read Walk The Walk CD/LP/Track Review
Walk The Walk
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: June 21, 2018
Read Grime Scene CD/LP/Track Review
Grime Scene
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 20, 2018
Read "The Future is Female" CD/LP/Track Review The Future is Female
by Paul Rauch
Published: March 23, 2018
Read "City Of Light" CD/LP/Track Review City Of Light
by John Sharpe
Published: December 22, 2017
Read "Inminente" CD/LP/Track Review Inminente
by Matt Hooke
Published: March 26, 2018
Read "Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & Best of the Rest" CD/LP/Track Review Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & Best of the Rest
by Jim Trageser
Published: February 25, 2018
Read "Atody Man" CD/LP/Track Review Atody Man
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 5, 2018
Read "La Saboteuse" CD/LP/Track Review La Saboteuse
by Chris May
Published: February 20, 2018