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The monotonous hoot of the tiny Saw-whet owl can only be heard during the mating months of March through May. Thus, Owl Sounds, a revolving group of musicians led by drummer Adam Kriney and bassist Gene Janas, kicked off their new album Cry Of The Saw-Whet properly by releasing it last April. Best to be in synch with the species you're named for.
Though the album far surpasses the owl's hypnotic monotone, it does share the miniscule mouse-chomping beast's free and nocturnal nature. The thrusting, broiling undertones and defying outbursts that stream from the album's two tracks were recorded live at New York's ABC No Rio last December. Alto saxophonist Randy Borra and bassist Jay Dunbar joined Kriney and Janas for what must have been the kind of awe-inspiring night that finds you constantly amazed and leaves you gleefully dazed. The recording captures about 26 minutes of dangerous freedom.
Variances of sparse drum passages, haunting bowed basses, and lamenting saxophone solos careen into full-on four-piece bonanzas. The group ripples, shudders, screams, and flails with endless imagination. Unusual textures arise when one bass plucks a gurgling line against silence, until Borra arrives with a few smart remarks on saxophone. The sound erupts into something that could come from a standard jazz quartet, until you remember the second bass as it breaks in with a brilliant bludgeoning that counters the first to create a stringed escapade stacked with rumble. Later, when the twin basses go at it with bows, they're like fierce contenders in a slashing metallic joust. Thin string passages enhance the warm swells Borra entices from his horn. And Kriney's smashing cymbals give breath to rhythms that start out punchy.
A dazzling array of sound occurs at once on Cry Of The Saw-Whet. Sometimes serene but usually vibrant, perhaps the album would remind its namesake of the symphony he hears in his earless head each night.
Track Listing: In Its Green Splendor/We Enter The Wood; Upon Prisms The Form Has Taken.
Personnel: Adam Kriney: drums; Gene Janas: bass; Randy Borra: alto sax; Jay Dunbar: bass.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.