Chris Washburne and The SYOTOS Band: Fields Of Moons

Dan Bilawsky By

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Keeping a band afloat in today's world is no easy feat. Keeping a band in business with a weekly jazz gig for twenty straight years borders on the impossible. Trombonist Chris Washburne has managed to make both happen, while juggling a busy performing career, studio work and teaching commitments at Columbia University, and he shows no signs of slowing down. Fields Of Moons was created to showcase the softer side of his long-lived SYOTOS Band, but the music still has enough kick to keep things interesting.

The mellow title track features some puckish soprano saxophone work from Ole Mathisen and some relaxed trombone playing from Washburne. Both, Washburne and trumpeter John Walsh turn in excellent performances on the bouncy "Seas Of Slumber," but Mathisen is the star of this one, with his well-paced, passion-laced performance.

"Obsesión" is the standout track on the first half of the program, with a seductive introduction from Washburne and some guitar-like electric bass support from Leo Traversa. Once the band gets moving, the soloing begins and this one belongs to the brass. Washburne's phrasing—with little growls interspersed here and there—is superb and Walsh's upper register work lights up the latter part of the song.

"Poinciana" is most pleasing when Washburne solos over some vamping figures at song's end and the band moves on to Charles Mingus' music with "Duke Ellington's Sound Of Love." Drummer Diego Lopez gently steers the band with his brushwork, and Mathisen's soloing—providing more rhythmic momentum to the music—is most memorable. "When Lights Are Low" comes off as slightly kitsch, but that's what makes it so much fun.

After a string of classics, Washburne and company return to original material with two songs from Mathisen. "Non Spoken" begins with some percussion and a slinking bass line, creating a sense of uncertainty that's magnified upon Mathisen's entrance. The energy picks up on "Evening Rites," with some well-written horn lines key to its success.

Walsh is the lead voice as pianist Barry Olsen's "Long Time Coming" gets underway, but the spotlight shifts to Olsen with his terrific solo work. Mathisen breathes soul into every situation on this album, and this song is no exception. The album closer is a take on "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans" that contains equal parts Cuba and Crescent City. Swing never makes an appearance here, with Washburne keeping things cool and straight, but that doesn't mean the band doesn't shine. Washburne provides some bass lines on tuba—along with some sophisticated trombone work—and the polyphonic solo pursuits from Walsh, Washburne and Mathisen (on clarinet) owe a debt to the music of New Orleans. Hopefully, Washburne and the SYOTOS Band will be making great music in New York for another twenty years.

Track Listing: Fields Of Moons; Seas Of Slumber; Obsesión; Poinciana; Duke Ellington's Sound Of Love; When Lights Are Low; Non Spoken; Evening Rites; Long Time Coming; Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans.

Personnel: Chris Washburne: trombone, tuba; John Walsh: trumpet, flugelhorn; Ole Mathisen: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet; Barry Olsen: piano; Leo Traversa: electric bass; Diego Lopez: drums; Cristian Rivera: percussion.

Title: Fields Of Moons | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Jazzheads

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