All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

8

Unhinged Sextet: Clarity

David A. Orthmann By

Sign in to view read count
The mainstream of jazz could use more recordings like Clarity, a recently released venture by the cooperative Unhinged Sextet. On every track there's something genuinely enjoyable and thought provoking going on, yet the disc doesn't suffer from information overload. The sense of excessive exertion, overt athleticism, sanctimonious references to key points of the jazz tradition—not to mention the insular vibe that's part and parcel of so many jazz records—are nowhere to be found. Most importantly, the Sextet sustains a recognizable identity amidst a wide range of moods, tempos, and grooves. That's quite an accomplishment under any circumstances—no less for a group that had never played together before convening in the summer of 2014 for a handful of days of rehearsal and recording.

Chock full of striking melodies, original compositions by five of the group's six members include familiar and somewhat unconventional structures dressed in arrangements that offer stimulating touches from beginning to end. Shout choruses, contrapuntal lines and other devices juice the music without going too far afield. It's clear that a lot of thought had been given to attaining a balance between the written material and improvised solos, primarily by alto saxophonist Will Campbell, tenor saxophonist Matt Olson, trumpeter Vern Sielert, and pianist Michael Kocour, the record's producer. Each one of them sounds comfortable and ably expresses himself within a limited amount of space.

Selecting highlights of a record that is, track-by-track, engrossing and consistently high in quality is something of a fool's errand—but here goes. The relaxed, medium tempo, swing-to-Latin vibe of Kocour's "Far From East," spurred by bassist Jon Hamar and drummer Dom Moio, is enhanced by an arrangement that adds and subtracts layers and textures which employ Olson, Sielert, Campbell, as individuals as well as a section. There's a lot happening—including some counterpoint delightfully running riot over Kocour's carefully structured theme—but everything is written and executed so smoothly that the track coheres and most of the details don't really stand out. The rhythm section deserves special mention for sustaining a deliberate tempo on "Clarity," Hamar's lovely, haunting, gem of a composition. Not interactive in a provocative sense, their input provides just the right amount of enrichment to Olson's reflective solo.

"Squiggles," Kocour's brisk, nimble, whimsical, up-tempo line, makes for a delightful, rousing end to the recording. Abetted by Hamar's and Moio's focused, hard driving support, his solo evokes a cross section of modern jazz pianists (Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Andrew Hill, Cecil Taylor, and Jaki Byard come to mind) without settling into any clearly defined style. Jagged punctuations by two horns and Kocour insistently dig into portions of Olson's and Campbell's solos. Like the rest of the disc, this potent mixture of writing, arranging and performance makes me hope that Clarity is not a one-off, and that the group will find the means to reconvene for live performances and another recording in the near future.


Track Listing: 1. Unhinged; 2. Far From East; 3. Watch Out of the Way; 4. Clarity; 5. Too Deep; 6. Down South; 7. Scout, No Doubt; 8. Leaving Soon; 9. Derecho; 10. Change; 11. Las Palmas; 12. Squiggles

Personnel: Will Campbell: alto saxophone; Matt Olson: tenor saxophone; Vern Sielert: trumpet; Michael Kocour: piano; Jon Hamar: bass; Dom Moio: drums.

Title: Clarity | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: OA2 Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Don't Blink

Don't Blink

Unhinged Sextet
Don't Blink

CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
Read more articles
Don't Blink

Don't Blink

OA2 Records
2017

buy
Clarity

Clarity

OA2 Records
2015

buy

Related Articles

Read Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller CD/LP/Track Review
Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Change In The Air CD/LP/Track Review
Change In The Air
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Vera CD/LP/Track Review
Vera
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 18, 2018
Read In Motion CD/LP/Track Review
In Motion
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Marshian Time Slip CD/LP/Track Review
Marshian Time Slip
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Four On The Road CD/LP/Track Review
Four On The Road
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 17, 2018
Read "Volume III: Magnetic Cycles" CD/LP/Track Review Volume III: Magnetic Cycles
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 19, 2017
Read "Philip Glass – Piano Works" CD/LP/Track Review Philip Glass – Piano Works
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 5, 2018
Read "Happy Fire - New Kind of Jazz" CD/LP/Track Review Happy Fire - New Kind of Jazz
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 16, 2018
Read "The Future is Female" CD/LP/Track Review The Future is Female
by Paul Rauch
Published: March 23, 2018
Read "Beethoven – Missa Solemnis" CD/LP/Track Review Beethoven – Missa Solemnis
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 17, 2018
Read "Disappeared Behind the Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Disappeared Behind the Sun
by John Sharpe
Published: January 21, 2018