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The Four Bags: Forth

Glenn Astarita By

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The musicians who comprise this indubitably inventive New York City-based quartet have respectively performed with the likes of Anthony Braxton, Lee Konitz and Clark Terry, in addition to large-scale symphonies and orchestras. Ultimately, the artists' diverse resumes and many-sided viewpoints effectively transfer to this rather sprightly multi-format program, spanning countless applications, yet cohesively shaped into an alluring presentation.

The bass-less and drummer-less quartet approach yields rewarding dividends, augmented by Michael McGinnis' use of bass clarinet, and guitarist Sean Marone's baritone guitar voicings. In this manner, not counting the lyrical factors, the musicians adjust for the lower register element. However, the group-led aesthetic takes on prismatic qualities as they fuse an electro-organic vibe into a buoyant vista, abetted by tightly integrated unison choruses, cheery themes, sublime balladry and journeys towards the avant realm.

Jacob Garchik's pumping accordion lines coalesce nicely with trombonist Bryan Drye's vigorous attack, yet even the softer spots are not sugarcoated to any degree. These works offer glimmering perspectives amid mood-evoking dialogues, off-kilter improvisational segments, and integrations touching upon chamber, the blues, jazz improv and other trajectories. On "Pure Joy," the quartet delves into the freer realm, partly due to McGinnis' torrential breakouts, and Moran's edgy electric guitar improvisations. Here, the band projects a proceed-with-caution mindset.

Engineered with harmonious themes and an eloquent form of power, The Four Bags tone it down into a trance-like state during "Imaginary Soda" via low-key melodies and shrewd use of space as part of the dynamic. Forth spawns a forward-looking and artful string of captivating concepts and applications, translating into an entertaining stance that flouts convention.

Track Listing: Wayne Shorter's Tune With All Different Notes; Run; Terpsichore; Pope Joy; Comfort Toon; Imaginary Soda; A Brief Nirvana; Girias Do Norte; The Burning; Sweet Home California.

Personnel: Michael McGinnis: clarinet, bass clarinet; Brian Drye: trombone; Sean Moran: guitar, baritone guitar; Jacob Garchik: accordion.

Title: Forth | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Self Produced

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