Jazz keeps taking twists and turns, and the joy of hearing something completely new can instead turn into surprise.
For Morphoses, guitarist Nate Radley has brought together his band mates from Bad Touch saxophonist Loren Stillman and drummer Ted Poor, along with bassist Matt Pavolka to produce an album of Americana filtered through a jazz mindset. The result is enjoyably enticing, with a sense of depth and intensity produced more through its emotional content rather than the intellect.
Radley admits wanting to produce a work of compositions that are carefully arranged to have an emotional arc -to tell a story. Of the nine tracks, six have a distinct Western/Country vibe, down to the guitar sound and playing (picking) technique. The other three, "Dots And Rhythms," "Long Notes" and "Mechanics" are more on the jazzier side, but still have a definite structure combined with an pensive, introspective mood.
The band supports Radley's objectives completely. Stillman is wonderful as the other solo voice; his soft-edged, golden but slightly hollow sound, combined with his slow, liquid vibrato adds just the right touch of ambivalent emotional weight to the music.
From the opening, rather raucous "Sunset Stomp" to the closing, plaintive and mysterious "Squirelly," Morphoses weaves a web that draws, even seduces, the listener into its world. Images abound of the open plains and big sky of the American West, and along with that a concomitant sense of proud individualism mixed with a touch of loneliness.
The music has a very rich, almost sensuous texture; the players mean what they say and clearly feel this music, making Morphoses a very rewarding listening experience.
Sunset Stomp; Glow; Dots And Rhythms; Travis; Forced Fun; Ramble; Long Notes; Mechanics; Squirelly.
Nate Radley: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, lap steel; Loren Stillman: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Matt Pavolka: acoustic bass; Ted Poor: drums.
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