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Naomi Moon Siegel: Live at Earshot

Paul Rauch By

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Trombonist and composer Naomi Moon Siegel burst onto the national scene through eight formative and enlightening years in Seattle. Steeped in the explorative jazz and improvised music scene there, she discovered her unique voice playing in projects such as Wayne Horvitz's Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble, and the folk/jazz duo Syrinx Effect with saxophonist Kate Olson.

In 2016 she released her debut album Shoebox View (self produced, 2016), showcasing her compositional talents as well as a trombone style that embodies jazz, folk, and classical traditions, interpreted and refined through her own unique take on both composed and improvised forms. Her new release Live at Earshot reinterprets that music, as well as diving into new material. The music has a way of fusing diametric opposites into tangible, fully expressive sound explorations into her journey that led to her new life in the Bitterroot country around Missoula, Montana.

Siegel is accompanied by her musical colleagues from Seattle, including Wayne Horvitz on piano, guitarist Sean Woolstenhulme, bassist Geoff Harper, drummer Eric Eagle, and percussionist Thione Diop on this live adventure recorded at Seattle's annual Earshot Jazz Festival.

The opening salvo, "Fullness of Time," is a bright repetitive groove that continually adds sounds culminating in a long crescendo. The melody is similar to many of Siegel's pieces, alluding to an awareness of multiple emotional snapshots in any given moment of time.

"Punta Uva" is inspired by Siegel's time spent in Costa Rica, possessing a tranquil, neo-folk vibe. It has an image conjuring melody that suggests the vastness of wide open space, a compositional point that could just as well present a musical vision of her current residence on the sweeping plains and high mountain peaks of Montana.

While Siegel states that her tune "Ukelady" is as well inspired by her time in Costa Rica, the listener can notably hear a distant attachment to deep south blues. It can just as easily be described as futuristic as well as old-fashioned. In essence it is a tune groomed through the ages of the American musical tradition, with a memorable melody providing that narrative.

West African percussionist Diop adds polyrhythmic layers to Siegel's "Jeanine's Joy." It has a riff based harmony that provides a suitable platform for Siegel's most inspired solo on the record, displaying her full, rich tone, imaginative melodic sketches, and ability to go deep into a collective groove. Guitarist Woolstenhulme's work here demonstrates that he is the defining factor in the overall sound of this ensemble. While that statement can be equally applied across the whole of this recording, it is on this piece the fully presents Siegel's ethereal vision. On "Mama Sanchaba the guitarist displays best his willingness to create space, and then invade that space and move it in an entirely different direction.

Siegel's music can be labeled many things, most labels of which could very well begin with the "neo" tag. Her time spent in conservatory, in the urban open mindedness of the Seattle jazz scene, and in her new environs of Montana, all merge into a comfortable place. Live at Earshot captures that spatial quality on true terms with this live recording that presents the audience up front as well. The vibe of the room sets the tone for the music, with no comfortable recesses to retreat. It is an honest and inviting backdrop to Siegel's journey to date.

Many artists move from project to project, having fulfilled one creative vision before moving on to the next. Siegel seems to constantly be in search mode, still searching for a musical identity that aligns with her self identity. Her spirit appears restless, on constant vigil for truths within truths. It is perhaps a reminder that the journey is the thing, that which reveals the context to which we artistically interpret. Live at Earshot may not be a career defining recording for Siegel, but it just may be a listener's best shot to introduce themself to her work.

Track Listing: Fullness of Time; Electric Flower; Punta Uva; Ukelady; Foghorn; Jeannine's Joy; Jaam Rek; Mama Sanchaba; Fortifying Love.

Personnel: Naomi Moon Siegel: trombone; Sean Woolstenhulme: guitar; Eric Eagle: drums; Wayne Horvitz: piano; Geoff Harper: bass; Thione Diop: percussion.

Title: Live at Earshot | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Slow & Steady

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