Sean Conly: Hard Knocks

Glenn Astarita By

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This trio gives credence to the old saying that, "too many cooks spoil the broth." Given the musicians' course of action, it would seem that additional instrumentalists may have gotten in the way of progress. This is due to the band's extreme agility coupled with a horde of alternative routes, undulating bop grooves, an uncluttered soundstage and tight unison outbreaks. And with Michael Attias' fluid, whispery tones and venomous solo sprees, the trio's airtight scope of attack also includes melodic content. As perennial first-call drummer Satoshi Takeishi's enviable timekeeping skills, convey a holistic percussive approach in concert with bassist Sean Conly's insightful support.

It's a memorable trio date, framed on a great deal of synchronized activity with motifs that keep on flowing via these clever song-forms that duly project the trio's razor-sharp impetus and unassailable flexibility.

Attias works his sax into a frenzy at times, but gels to a multidimensional format, whether he's merging rough-hewn or tuneful hooks with warmth and aplomb or when executing a pensive ballad on "Undertow." Moreover, the trio transparently integrates penetrating motifs with thrusting choruses and knotty time signatures while engaging bountiful sub-plots along the way.

"Afterfact" begins with the saxophonist's angst-ridden dialogues amid nefarious expressiveness and coarse overtones atop Takeishi's asymmetrical and pulsating beats. But Conly softens the blow with slow walking phrases. Here, the musicians toggle between argumentative and reflective interactions, leading to Attias' ragged and scouring riffs as though he's crying out for help, but no one is listening. Hence, the entire presentation is embedded with emotive storylines, expressed with disparate currents and shifting dynamics. Simply put, it's an ambitious and eventful outing that covers all the bases, and then some.

Track Listing

Hard Knocks; Totem; Undertow; Skippin’ Town (1000 Mile Run); Loose Screws; Afterfact.


Sean Conly: double bass; Michaël Attias: alto saxophone; Satoshi Takeishi: drums.

Album information

Title: Hard Knocks | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records


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