339

Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Double Blues Crossing

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count
If Gerry Hemingway's other 2005 release, The Whimbler—with his current quartet—presented a surprisingly straight-ahead facet of his music, this quintet album is far more intriguing and, well, strange. Opening to the (sampled) sounds of old-time fiddle-driven folk music, the seven-part title suite sounds like the soundtrack to some yet-to-be-made movie. In his sleeve notes, Hemingway even gives us an intriguing taster that reads like something from Steinbeck, with its characters Rosa Abigail, Buddy Luckett and Joe Cracklin.

Although the suite moves seamlessly between sections, like a soundtrack it is episodic, featuring frequent shifts of mood and tempo. It enhances its atmosphere by integrating sampled material seamlessly alongside composed and improvised music, most obviously bullfrogs and crickets (I think!). The written ensemble passages utilize all of the players to excellent effect, allowing space for their individual voices to be heard but never to dominate. Of the five, Hemingway himself is the least visible, never in the spotlight but always underpinning the band. At its best, as on "It Ain't Slippery But It's Wet, the band achieves the kind of loosely anarchic swing that is very difficult to achieve without becoming too rigid or too loose: the musical equivalent of tightrope walking.

Following the suite, the three remaining tracks present contrasting facets of the quintet. "Rallier allows solo space for individuals, featuring Frank Gratowski on bass clarinet, a barnstormer from Wolter Wiebos on trombone, plus an all too brief solo spot for Hemingway himself, before coming to a climax with a tasty ensemble riff. In complete contrast, "Night Town/Tent is a cool, impressionistic composition with marimba and strings well to the fore. The closer, "Slowly Rising, lives up to its title—with a loping rhythm reminiscent of township jazz and fine interplay between the horns, it smolders without ever quite catching fire.


Track Listing: Double Blues Crossing: Buddy Luckett

Personnel: Frank Gratowski: clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone; Wolter Wierbos: trombone; Amit Sen: cello; Kermit Driscoll: acoustic and electric bass; Gerry Hemingway: drums, marimba, sampler.

Title: Double Blues Crossing | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Between the Lines


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Mission Cimbalom" CD/LP/Track Review Mission Cimbalom
by Geannine Reid
Published: September 7, 2017
Read "Stratus" CD/LP/Track Review Stratus
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 11, 2017
Read "Slade Alive!" CD/LP/Track Review Slade Alive!
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 21, 2017
Read "Blue Skylight" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Skylight
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 12, 2017
Read "Falando Docemente" CD/LP/Track Review Falando Docemente
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 13, 2017
Read "You'll Never Know" CD/LP/Track Review You'll Never Know
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 31, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.