All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

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...

220

Boxhead Ensemble: Nocturnes

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Formed to accompany the short-film documentary Dutch Harbor in 1996, the Boxhead Ensemble has since grown beyond its modest origins. In addition to its leader, guitarist Michael Krassner, the group has featured a diverse cast in various incarnations over the past decade: Ken Vandermark, Jeff Parker, Will Oldham, Edith Frost and members of Wilco and the Dirty Three have all appeared under the Boxhead roster.

The group's fourth proper studio album, Nocturnes, features a somewhat different lineup than previous editions. Reducing the unit to a quartet, Krassner recruited cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, pianist Jacob Kollar and percussionist Frank Rosaly to join him on this program of lush, reflective compositions.

Billowing electric sound clouds, bittersweet acoustic strings, incidental noise and shimmering percussion wrap these melodic sketches in a gauzy film of pastoral beauty. Borrowing from folk melodies, the blues and even contemporary chamber music, the ensemble slowly unfolds an emotional tapestry of restrained splendor.

Krassner delves into various approaches as the mood suits him. Alternating bluesy electric slide with spare acoustic pointillism, he spans genres and styles. Lonberg-Holm's cello sits front and center, a key component in the quartet's sound. His rich and sinuous timbre, occasionally augmented with distortion, enriches these bittersweet melodies with subtle tension and resonance. Acting as scenic colorists in lieu of adopting support roles, Kollar's prepared piano interjections dovetail with Rosaly's laid-back, percussive fills.

Krassner's studio manipulations on Nocturnes are extensive. Tinkering with the mix, he occasionally splices the recording into abbreviated segments, creating a scintillating kaleidoscope of jittery sound fragments.

The Boxhead Ensemble resides in a stylistic no man's land between the pastoral Americana of guitarist Bill Frisell's recent projects and the majestic grandeur of the Canadian noise band Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Possessing an undeniable beauty, Nocturnes updates American music traditions without straying too far from its sources.


Track Listing: Nocturne 1; Nocturne 5; Nocturne 3; Nocturne 8; Nocturne 4; Nocturne 7; Nocturne 2; Nocturne 10.

Personnel: Michael Krassner: guitar, organ, manipulations; Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello, harmonica; Jacob Kollar: prepared piano; Frank Rosaly: percussion.

Title: Nocturnes | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Atavistic Worldwide

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Nocturnes

Nocturnes

Atavistic Worldwide
2006

buy
Quartets

Quartets

Atavistic Worldwide
2003

buy
Two Brothers

Two Brothers

Atavistic Worldwide
2001

buy

Related Articles

Read Origins CD/LP/Track Review
Origins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Say It CD/LP/Track Review
Say It
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Alchemia Garden CD/LP/Track Review
Alchemia Garden
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Don't You Wish CD/LP/Track Review
Don't You Wish
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 19, 2018
Read "Anti-Hero" CD/LP/Track Review Anti-Hero
by Mike Jacobs
Published: September 1, 2017
Read "Live at Club Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Club Helsinki
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 5, 2017
Read "EE-YA-GI (Stories)" CD/LP/Track Review EE-YA-GI (Stories)
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 19, 2017
Read "The Answer Is No" CD/LP/Track Review The Answer Is No
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 28, 2017
Read "Mogoya" CD/LP/Track Review Mogoya
by James Nadal
Published: May 14, 2017
Read "Clean" CD/LP/Track Review Clean
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 15, 2017