Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

163

Jeremy Udden's Plainville: If the Past Seems So Bright

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Named after his rural Massachusetts hometown, Plainville is Brooklyn-based saxophonist Jeremy Udden's heartfelt roots music-inspired project. In the New England Conservatory graduate's own words, "I listened to a lot of rock growing up, I continue to do so. So a lot of my music is about reconciling that...." From singer-songwriters like Neil Young to alt-rock icons The Pixies, Udden's musical influences run the gamut, much like those of his peers and fellow band mates. If the Past Seems So Bright follows in the footsteps of the band's self-titled 2009 debut on Fresh Sound New Talent, traversing rustic Americana vistas with cinematic élan and indie rock credibility.

Udden's seamless integration of simple country, folk and rock melodies into a sophisticated jazz context lends Plainville's improvisational excursions a cohesive sensibility, whether crafting pastoral ballads or tumultuous rockers. Most of the songs were written on either guitar or keyboard, lending their tuneful, pop-influenced themes an organic, naturalistic feel. The wistful opener, "Sad Eyes," highlights the concordance between Pete Rende's luminescent Fender Rhodes ruminations and the psychedelic overtones of Brandon Seabrook's reverb-laced guitar, weaving a serene underpinning for the leader's breathy alto musings. The evocative "Film" exudes a similarly bluesy mood, while "Thomas" and "Bovina" conjure bucolic panoramas with folksy variations.

"Stone Free" and "Hammer" provide dynamic contrast to the date's laidback demeanor, delving into the primal immediacy of rock; the former spotlights the pyrotechnic virtuosity of Seabrook's metallic fretwork, driven by Eivind Opsvik's undulating bass lines and RJ Miller's pulverizing kit work. Ebullient surf licks accent the countrified shuffle of "Hammer," with the post-rock ambience of Rende's Prophet synth offering a stroke of sonic brilliance to the number's down-home twang.

Throughout the date, Udden constructs dynamically inventive extrapolations from unadorned themes, soaring with understated euphony over the lilting banjo arpeggios of "New Dress" one minute, caterwauling with acerbic abandon on "Stone Free" the next. The session also includes appearances from two guest vocalists, whose singing lends palpable conviction to the band's populist aspirations. "Bethel" features Nathan Blehar's soulful wordless harmonies, while the sober "Pause at a Lake" concludes the record with a poignant reading of Udden's lyrics by Justin Keller.

Overblown jazz fusion clichés are largely a thing of the past among younger performers like Udden, who have come of age exposed to a diverse array of genres and aesthetic approaches; Plainville is a prime example of how once seemingly disparate styles can inspire subtly tasteful new hybrids. If the Past Seems So Bright enhances sophisticated jazz structures with the emotional candor of contemporary roots music, expanding the possibilities of both traditions in the process.

Track Listing: Sad Eyes; New Dress; Stone Free; Bethel; Hammer; Thomas; Film; Bovina; Leland; Pause at a Lake.

Personnel: Jeremy Udden: alto and soprano saxophone, clarinet; Pete Rende: Fender Rhodes, pump organ, Prophet, Wurlitzer; Brandon Seabrook: banjo, guitar, 12-string guitar; Eivind Opsvik: acoustic bass; RJ Miller: drums; Nathan Blehar: nylon-string guitar (2, 6, 10) voice and guitar (4); Will Graefe: steel-string acoustic guitar (8); Justin Keller: voice (10).

Title: If the Past Seems So Bright | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Bovina

Bovina

Jeremy Udden
If the Past Seems So Bright

Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Belleville Project

Belleville Project

Sunnyside Records
2015

buy
If the Past Seems So Bright

If the Past Seems So...

Sunnyside Records
2011

buy
Plainville

Plainville

Fresh Sound New Talent
2009

buy
Torchsongs

Torchsongs

Fresh Sound New Talent
2006

buy

Related Articles

Read We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration Album Reviews
We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration
By Mark Corroto
April 25, 2019
Read Golem Dance Album Reviews
Golem Dance
By Friedrich Kunzmann
April 25, 2019
Read New Jazz Standards, Vol. 4 Album Reviews
New Jazz Standards, Vol. 4
By Dan Bilawsky
April 24, 2019
Read Open Form For Society Album Reviews
Open Form For Society
By Mark Corroto
April 24, 2019
Read Yes Album Reviews
Yes
By John Sharpe
April 24, 2019
Read Avec le temps Album Reviews
Avec le temps
By Mark Sullivan
April 23, 2019
Read Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog Album Reviews
Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog
By Mark Corroto
April 23, 2019