Drummer and vibraphonist Dillon Vado is a Bay Area musician whose group, Never Weather, has produced a debut CD that shows a lot of versatility. The band uses a lineup that features, trumpet, saxophone and guitar to create music full of sudden twists and that sometimes straddles the line between jazz and rock.
Guitarist Justin Rock, saxophonist Aaron Wolf and trumpeter Josh D. Reed make a forceful and springy front line that delivers a punchy unison charge on "Never Catch Up." Rock is an important component of the group who adds texture and weight to the horn players and drive to the rhythm section. His chugging chords keep the African rhythm of "There Is No Secret" moving and on "Always Settling" and "Bring Back The Color" he plays relaxed but steely lines for Wolf and Reed to wrap around. Both horns solo with slow-motion passion on "Settling" but on "Color" Wolf takes the lead, serenading and screaming on his tenor through winding trails laid down by the rhythm section.
"Blissonance" unfolds with the measured grace of a Paul Motian composition. Vado's brushwork sets up an atmospheric blend of drawling guitar lines and long horn notes, before the piece suddenly shifts to a crisper and faster beat with Reed pealing and spurting before Rock's guitar returns at the slower pace, spinning out spectral blues. "Mask" has a similar subdued and melancholic feel as Wolf and Reed play with wistful introspection against Rock's lightly traced strums. The tempo finally picks up on Reed's trumpet feature, "Morbique." He energetically weaves in and out of Harlow's and Vado's playing at a quickened pace as Wolf and Rock make occasional sympathetic comments.
There are several short pieces mixed in with the longer ones. Most are basically fragmentary sketches featuring different members of the group but the last is a lively two minute version of Thelonious Monk's "Introspection," played with the band's customary mix of tempos, that features everyone.
Never Weather is a group that has fashioned a type of progressive jazz with rock influences that can change direction and tempo within the same song and make the shifts sound natural instead of abrupt or mechanical. They are worth paying attention to.
Never Catch Up; Transient; Mask; There is No Secret; Resolute; Blissonance; Medium;
Always Setting; No Grasp; Morbique; Bring Back the Color; Introspection.
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