Listeners familiar with saxophonist Kevin Sun's adventurous outings on his Endectomorph labelThe Sustain of Memory, 2019; (Un)Seaworthy, 2020will celebrate the fact that he is now reaching out to other like-minded musicians for inclusion on his roster. One of the first, Family Plan, is a trio built around the talents of pianist-keyboardist Andrew Boudreau, bassist Simón Willson, and drummer Vicente Hansen. The group treads the fine line between form and freedom quite skillfully, with occasional electronic touches which add dimension to the music.
These musicians excel at creating a trajectory for each track, often building energy from delicate starting points. "Little River" may be the best example, wherein a careful dance between piano, bass and drums gradually gives way to something much more forceful. Hansen's drumming is key here, as he opens up his kit to some serious pounding before de-escalating the mood as the track reaches its compelling finish. He is even more muscular on the crafty complexities of "Reptilian," where he unloads the full force of his percussive power. Boudreau and Willson exhibit similar shape-shifting attributes; the contemplative closer, "El Mono," has Boudreau as his most reflective, at least for the first part of the track; but before long he is stretching out on some expansive block chords. And Willson's nimble quickness accentuates the most impassioned moments of "Reptilian," but he uses a disarmingly simple figure to anchor the gentle bounce of "Who's Your Copilot."
As for the group's use of electronics, Boudreau adds a number of keyboard-driven enhancements to most of the tracks. The overall impact varies considerably, however, from subtle shadings to more overt interventions. The opener, "Celebratory," has the most conspicuous example, with something sounding like an industrial saw augmentingor perhaps detracting fromthe flow of the track, depending on one's perspective. Other pieces utilize a finer-grained approach, like the stately "Life is Good," or the measured "Seemingly OK," where the electronics make much briefer, and more artful, appearances. These less-obvious choices complement the group's overall aesthetic a bit better, with atmosphere rather than disruption the result. The overdubbed toy-piano sound on "Who's Your Copilot" brings a playful aspect to the end of the piece, and there is a haunting quality to the middle of "Touch," where a gauze-like layer obscures the instruments temporarily, leaving an unsettling feeling before the music re-establishes itself more assertively.
Sun makes a guest appearance on "What's Your Fee" and it is an enjoyable track, with the saxophonist's lyrical agility finding a comfortable home within the trio's capacious sound. Perhaps a quartet project could be in the works, one day? Even if not, Family Plan offers a lot of creative music on this debut disc, and it is a winning venture for a piano trio with a decidedly unconventional sound.
Celebratory; Life is Good; Reptilian; Scam Likely; Who’s Your Copilot; Little River; Seemingly OK; Groundhog Day; Touch;
What’s Your Fee; El Mono.
Title: Family Plan
| Year Released: 2021
| Record Label: Endectomorph Music
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