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Andrew Munsey: High Tide

Mike Jurkovic By

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Known equally for his unconventional timing as well as his audio design and production, drummer/composer/producer Andrew Munsey takes charge of his equally unconventional, decade-long Brooklyn quintet and delivers the assertive and ambitious High Tide.

Munsey's nine compositions, alive with sparse grooves and slippery time passages morphing from one odd equation to the next collective geometry, exhibit a robust individuality both as a player and composer. Counterpunching time both physically and sonically to fit his liking, "High Tide" hits the sweet spot early, opening with a clattering of cymbals soon accompanied by a forceful, almost foreboding run from pianist Amino Belyamani that gives way to a spirited parallel rivalry between trumpeter Stephanie Richards and tenor saxophonist Ochion Jewell. Bassist Sam Minaie locks in with Munsey and the energy generated keeps High Tide running on all cylinders.

The brief "Petite Feast" is High Tide's first immersive excursion into Brooklyn's cool avant-garde. Employing Richards' continuing sound explorations to rule the day while Belyamani's spacey Rhodes and Jewell's muscular outbursts remind the listener of, well, take your pick of cherished 1960's-70's space fusion and go from there. "Requite" begins quietly enough, Munsey's seemingly timeless wanderings allowing room for plenty of inventive rumination by one and all with Richards and Belyamani delivering especially exquisite solos until Munsey crescendos mightily bringing a truly standout track to a close.

"Undertow," another brief interlude between the longer tracks, is a dark, droning motif that quickly falls into a marching example of group-think. The hypnotic "Schema" is a percussive meditation between the leader and Belyamani's prepared piano. Belyamani leads the way thoughtfully on the album's daringly fluid sole cover of Igor Stravinsky's ""Les Cinq Doigts: Lento." Arranged by Munsey, it highlights yet another potent weapon in his arsenal. "Skylight" closes the album as mightily as it began, the ensemble flowing through its peaks and valleys with a loose yet disciplined ease.

Track Listing: High Tide; Petite Feast; Seedling; Driftwood; Requite; Undertow; Schema; Les Cinq Doigts: Lento; Prelude: Tree Fruit; Skyline.

Personnel: Andrew Munsey: drums; Steph Richards: trumpet, flugelhorn; Ochion Jewell: tenor saxophone, kalimba; Amino Belyamani: piano, Fender Rhodes; Sam Minaie: double bass.

Title: High Tide | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Birdwatcher Records

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