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Quinn Sternberg: Cicada Songs


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Quinn Sternberg: Cicada Songs
On Cicada Songs, bassist Quinn Sternberg paints a dreamy portrait of a languid summer evening at home, a visit to a comfortable front porch full of snoozing dogs, meandering cats, and the natural summer serenade of its title track.

The first Cicada song is "June," Sternberg and company's collective musing about what Sternberg's beloved dog named June might dream about. "June" opens with a shimmer of cymbals, like you're passing through the gossamer curtain of sleep and are now freely wafting through dreamland. "June" doesn't feel like a straight ahead or linear melody but more like Sternberg's bass, Oscar Rossignoli's keyboards, and Peter Varnado's drums are all floating and circling around the orbital center of Sam Taylor's lush, tenor saxophone melody, and Charlie Ballantine's electric guitar notes enter not as music but as sound that splinters like moonlight refracting through a cracked glass window.

Ballantine suspends country-blues guitar notes like shimmering sunlight shining down on "Porch Cat," a most comfortable if not downright lazy-sounding groove that curls up, unwinds, and rewinds like a napping feline. Guitar and bass duet over the bridge, and then Ballantine strums chords that seem to float and hang up in the air to shine down onto the rhythm section and keyboards.

"Remember the Birds" flutters on gorgeous acoustic piano like a hatchling out from under the closing cover of "Alter Ego," perfectly sequenced with almost no silent space between them. Taylor's tenor fleshes out this melody with a sound so full and warm it almost feels like breathing, and helps to launch Rossignoli's strongly melodic mid-song piano spotlight.

Sternberg based the title track and single on the rhythm of cicadas he heard chirping one Louisiana night; he discovered they were singing in 7/4 and wrote "Cicada Song" around their natural nocturnal rhythm, adding a bridge that builds up and collapses in 5/4. Interlocking guitar and saxophone in the foreground mesh with interlocking piano and bass rhythms in the background, radiating shimmering waves of cresting and ebbing music—just like the cicada's natural sound.

Sternberg runs the conceptual table by bringing the listener through the day's end with Cicada Songs's closing trilogy: Unresolved "Insomnia" worries through guitar and saxophone; quick melodic variations move like snapshots through reflections on "What a Day"; and then "Ami's Lullaby" comes to rest with a quiet yet resounding jazz from the American heartland sound.

Track Listing

June; Cicada Song; Alter Ego; Remember the Birds; Porch Cat; Insomnia; What a Day; Ami's Lullaby.


Quinn Sternberg: bass; Sam Taylor: saxophone, tenor; Oscar Rossignoli: piano; Peter Vernado: drums; Charlie Ballantine: guitar, electric; Max Bronstein-Paritz: guitar, electric.

Album information

Title: Cicada Songs | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Mind Beach Records

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