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Jake Baldwin, Zacc Harris, Pete Henning: Boundaries

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Jake Baldwin, Zacc Harris, Pete Henning: Boundaries
Some music defies definition. If it fits into a recognizable style, it is not that difficult to describe. When artists step outside traditional boundaries to create a different sound, it frequently becomes one of those "you just have to hear it" moments. Such is the case with Boundaries, the debut release from the trio of trumpeter Jake Baldwin, guitarist Zacc Harris and drummer Pete Hennig.

These three musicians are some of the top jazz players in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, where Baldwin and Harris each have their own critically acclaimed groups. Boundaries offers an opportunity for the players to take off in new directions.

Describing Boundaries as avant-garde, however, would be doing it a disservice. While there are freeform elements here, the music is accessible and far from experimental in the traditional sense. This is an excellent presentation of improvisational pieces, each with a trancelike quality not far removed from some ECM recordings. In fact, Boundaries resonates with the Palle Mikkelborg, Jakob Bro and Marilyn Mazur album, Strands (ECM 2023).

Boundaries has eight tracks, each spontaneously improvised, which emphasize collaboration and creation over individual performance alone. The idea for the album arose from a unique situation. The three musicians arrived at a recording session without a bassist. They decided to go ahead and see where the music took them. The result is an enjoyable amalgamation of styles and sounds that deserves attention.

Certain selections, such as "Crows" or "Fjords" have an almost cinematic quality to them. Like other tracks on the album, the songs build from a steady drone foundation in the background. The interplay of the trumpet and guitar over the background creates a trance-like atmosphere. Other songs, such as "Clowns" and "Tumbleweeds," provide a more experimental approach. With "Clowns," the sound is almost that of deconstructed bop, while "Tumbleweeds" offers a layering of sound giving a slight musique concrete feel. These compositions showcase the improvisational skills of each of the players in a cool, just enough "out there" manner.

Boundaries is one of those albums that invites repeated listening. As with any good art, the more you go back, the more you discover.

Track Listing

You Got The Best Of Me; Boundaries; Crows; Gravity; Tumbleweeds; Fjords; Clowns; Legs.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Boundaries | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Shifting Paradigm Records


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