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Remy Le Boeuf’s Assembly of Shadows: Heartland Radio

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Remy Le Boeuf’s Assembly of Shadows: Heartland Radio
This ear-grabbing date from Remy Le Boeuf's Assembly of Shadows—the band's third release, following its eponymous debut (in 2019) and Architecture of Storms (SoundSpore Records, 2021)—is a sonic mirror, reflecting the multihyphenate leader's recent travels in both life and sound. Influenced by an odyssey across inland America, sights encountered along the way, and the adventitious, airwaves-dictated soundtrack to the journey, Heartland Radio offers up a striking portrait of a Promethean artist with an unfettered imagination.

Opening on the vast expanse of a title track, this Grammy-nominated leader and outfit make good on their stellar reputation(s) and the album theme's majestic and multifaceted promise. Peter Kronreif's drumming powers the band across highways and backways with passion and precision, as indie rock, electropop, dance music and modern jazz blend into a seamless whole; and Le Boeuf and trumpeter Philip Dizack deliver a striking pas de deux while the music pulsates and rolls along. Capturing the broad vision for the record in just under seven-and-a-half minutes, "Heartland Radio" acts as a dynamic doorway into a new world.

The numbers that follow, while maintaining the established band dynamic of the opener, branch out in different directions, touching on the leader's eclecticism with consistently impressive results. "Stop & Go," referencing the crazy balancing act involved with Le Boeuf's ever-growing and evolving commitments, nods to '80s pop and shines a spotlight on rising star guitarist Max Light. "New Beginnings"—a tribute to the late Roy Hargrove—is sophisticated, uplifting soul, with the always on point Mike Rodriguez delivering the goods with his flugelhorn. And centerpiece "Barbara," a collaboration between Le Boeuf and poet Sara Pirkle, is a paean to sculptor Barbara Holmes (whose handiwork adorns the album cover) and a strong showing for two underrated talents in vocalist Julia Easterlin and pianist Martha Kato. The composition offers a richly complex harmonic palette as the foundation for forward-thinking singer-songwriter aesthetics.

"Golden Handcuffs" circles back around to the simpatico relationship between Le Boeuf and Dizack, who work and walk the arc of the piece with absolute assurance. From lowland pastures to breathtaking peaks, and in all the varied topography between, each makes his mark while complementing the other. Nadje Noordhuis' mesmerizing "Little Song"—a standout on the trumpeter's remarkably evocative Full Circle (Newvelle, 2022) and the only piece originating in another artist's portfolio to appear in this collection—shines with new luster and mystique in Le Boeuf's treatment, which serves as the perfect showcase for his euphonious alto.

"Walking on Water," drawing inspiration from memories of strolling across a frozen lake in a Brooklyn winter, gives tenor saxophonist Lucas Pino a platform to share his tremendous gifts. Encapsulating slow-groove cool, with a strutting sensibility, anthemic highs and some notably sensitive stretches, it's a closer that bends toward certain fundamental truths within the leader's conception. But it's hardly indicative of everything he eyes and spies. Remy Le Boeuf sees with a panoramic outlook as a bandleader, composer, and performer, and that fact rests at the heart of Heartland Radio.

Track Listing

Heartland Radio; Stop & Go; New Beginnings; Barbara; Golden Handcuffs; Little Song; Walking on Water.

Personnel

Remy Le Boeuf
saxophone, alto
Alejandro Aviles
saxophone, alto
Lucas Pino
saxophone
John Lowery
saxophone, tenor
Carl Maraghi
saxophone, baritone
Tony Kadleck
trumpet
Tony Glausi
trumpet
Mike Fahie
trombone
Alan Ferber
trombone
Javier Nero
trombone
Jennifer Wharton
trombone, bass
Max Light
guitar, electric
Pascal Le Boeuf
keyboards
Additional Instrumentation

Danielle Wertz: vocals; Gregory Robbins: conductor.

Album information

Title: Heartland Radio | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: SoundSpore Records


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