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Scenes: ...but not heard

Dan McClenaghan By

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ECM Records has been noted for its "Nordic Cool," school, from its many recordings of Scandinavian artists, with pianist Tord Gustavsen coming most readily to mind. Seattle's Origin Records has what can be called its "Northwest U.S. Cool" with recordings from bassist Jeff Johnson, saxophonist Hans Teuber, and the collective trio Scenes, with guitarist John Stowell, drummer John Bishop and, again, Jeff Johnson on bass.

Scenes' eponymous debut disc in 2001 featured the core trio and saxophonist Rick Mandyck. The next three sets, All the Way (2006), Rinova (2009) and Silent Photographer (2010)—all of these are on Origin Records—took the band back to a trio. With ...but not heard the group goes back to the quartet mode, this time with Hans Teuber on saxophones and flute.

Johnson, Bishop, and Teuber show up on lots of Origin Records sets. The comfort level and a fluid compatibility is there. Along with guitarist Stowell, they lay down a nuanced and unhurried sound. Stowell is a subtle virtuoso. Tueber's sax tone is clean and so cool you can imagine water condensing on his horn; and Johnson and Bishop keep the pulses steady and elastic.

"C Waltz Blues," a Hans Teuber tune, opens the disc. The teaming of Teuber with Stowell proves to be one of those "more than the sum of the parts" things as they weave singing lines around each other. Bishop rolls and rumbles in a covert fashion, accenting the background with cymbal splashes, and Johnson gets some solo space that rides on a cloud of Bishop's subtly surging rhythms.

Stowell's beguiling "Nanti Glow" has an insidious charm as it smolders low on the underside of the coals. "Fast" fans the low flames, and "Spectrum," another Stowell tune, ruminates with a spacious reverie.

...but not heard, from Seattle's Scenes, is an understated cohesive music that conjures images of a chilly mists rolling into town off the cold Puget Sound, filmy tendrils drifting up dark, shadowy streets.

Track Listing: C Minor Waltz; Nanti Glow; Fast; Spectrum; Dream; Old Fellow; Swedish Bingo.

Personnel: John Stowell: guitar; Jeff Johnson: bass; John Bishop: drums; Hans Teuber: saxophones, flute.

Title: ...but not heard | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Origin Records

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