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...

7

Unhinged Sextet: Don't Blink

David A. Orthmann By

Sign in to view read count
Unhinged Sextet is a strong candidate for the best band you'll never hear in a live performance. The members of this cooperative ensemble are spread out across the country, earning their daily bread by training the next generation of musicians, with an emphasis on jazz studies, at various universities. They join forces for brief periods in between other commitments, woodshedding material and recording, before returning to their respective home bases.

George Bernard Shaw's often quoted maxim, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach," is starkly inaccurate in relation to the individuals in the sextet. And when it comes to the music on Don't Blink, so is the word "Unhinged." If only all democratic institutions were able to function as compatibly in pursuit of a common cause. Each one of the sextet's members, save drummer Dom Moio, contributes original material to the disc's eight tracks. A few of this reviewer's favorites include the hushed Middle Eastern flavored vibe of tenor saxophonist Matt Olson's "Low Talk;" bassist Jon Hamar's "Folk Tune," a tightly composed chamber jazz piece which incorporates brief flashes of turbulence within a kind of courtly, formal splendor; and the amiable swagger of pianist Michael Kocour's "Sense of Semantics," a perfect set closer.

Clear-cut, resourceful arrangements that utilize combinations of a front line of Olson, the trumpet and flugelhorn of Vern Sielert, and alto saxophonist Will Campbell, frame catchy, substantive melodies and serve as a point of departure for the soloists. Everyone gets a chance to speak his piece, yet individual efforts never imperil or detract from the music as a whole. Campbell's turn during "The Swinger And The Saint" amounts to densely packed bebop that's free of familiar licks or gratuitous displays of chops. Olson begins a solo on his ballad "Purple Lilac" as if he's reluctantly revealing a secret, and gradually forges a lucid narrative without ever raising his voice. Amidst Moio's nearly inaudible swells and single taps to the cymbals, Kocour's contribution to "Folk Tune" subtly builds suspense while mostly displaying a disarming simplicity. During "Sense Of Semantics," Sielert evinces a real flair for design and raises the solo's temperature by virtue of a slight change of dynamics and the thickening of his tone.

Kocour, Hamar and Moio do an admirable job of inhabiting the arrangements and spurring the soloists. They always know when and how to push the band, lay back, or keep things on an even keel. Check out the way the rhythm section creates a sense of urgency by tightening the beat at the onset of Sielert's "None The Wiser" solo. Or the manner in which they sustain a glacial tempo during Kocour's and Olson's solos throughout the middle of "Folk Tune."

Although catching a couple of sets of Unhinged Sextet in a club or concert hall remains, regrettably, an unlikely scenario, Don't Blink amply demonstrates that this commonwealth of jazzmen play with the spirit, precision, and invention of a working band.


Track Listing: Don't Blink; The Swinger And The Saint; Low Talk; None The Wiser; Purple Lilac; Autumn Fall; Folk Tune; Sense Of Semantics

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

Title: Don't Blink | Year Released: 2017 | 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 Why Not CD/LP/Track Review
Why Not
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 26, 2018
Read Together CD/LP/Track Review
Together
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 26, 2018
Read Presence CD/LP/Track Review
Presence
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 26, 2018
Read Blood CD/LP/Track Review
Blood
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 26, 2018
Read Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road CD/LP/Track Review
Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 25, 2018
Read "Currents, Constellations" CD/LP/Track Review Currents, Constellations
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 14, 2018
Read "Master Legacy Series, Volume 2" CD/LP/Track Review Master Legacy Series, Volume 2
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: February 8, 2018
Read "Wishing On The Moon" CD/LP/Track Review Wishing On The Moon
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 13, 2018
Read "Intention" CD/LP/Track Review Intention
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 10, 2018
Read "Suite Theory" CD/LP/Track Review Suite Theory
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 16, 2018
Read "And She Speaks - A Collection Of Ballads" CD/LP/Track Review And She Speaks - A Collection Of Ballads
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 25, 2018