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Atlantic Road Trip: ONE

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Atlantic Road Trip: ONE
Although it is not clear at first (or even second) glance, Atlantic Road Trip is the name of the group on this superb album from Chicago-based Calligram Records, while ONE is the title of the album itself. What is clear is that the music the quintet produces is splendid, overflowing with delightful melodies and tantalizing rhythms, and enhanced considerably by the presence of vibraphonist Miro Herak in the group. Before moving on, hats off to Calligram Records for recording a number of such little-known but uncommonly talented ensembles.

Atlantic Road Trip is first and foremost a trans-continental collaboration. Herak is from Slovakia, trumpeter Chad McCullough from Chicago, saxophonist Paul Towndrow and drummer Alyn Cosker from Scotland, and bassist Conor Murray from Ireland. Herak and McCullough met at Canada's Banff Center for the Arts in 2009, and Herak served as a catalyst for bringing the other members of the quintet on board. His instincts were spot on, as the partnership works extremely well.

The music on ONE is expansive, blending traditional Scottish and Slovakian themes within a contemporary jazz framework. Besides playing, Towndrow wrote four of the album's ten numbers, McCullough three others, while Herak composed the fast-paced and persuasive "Upside Down" and arranged the Slovak folk songs "Hore Haj, Dolu Haj" and "Kopala Studienko, Pozerala Do Nej." One thing that sets Road Trip apart from many groups its size, as noted above, is the contrast and color provided by Herak's nimble vibraphone, which enriches both melody and rhythm.

The other soloists—basically McCullough and Towndrow—are akin to their contemporaries, interlacing bright and articulate comments throughout, while Murray and Cosker manage the rhythmic component with ease. After traversing the musical spectrum, the session closes with a brace of burners, "Upside Down" and McCullough's propulsive "Dreams of Matka." The album opens with yet another flag-waver, McCullough's "The Other Fulton Street," while Towndrow's "White Cart Water" has an explicit Irish flavor, his "Cacuvela" a brisk Latin undertone. As for the folk songs, they are simply lovely, with Towndrow moving between alto sax and flute to diversify the mood and tone.

Trans-national teamwork, it should be noted, can often lead to an impressive outcome, which is certainly true of ONE, an exemplary debut album by the masterful quintet Atlantic Road Trip.

Track Listing

The Other Fulton Street; Nightingale Island; Hore Háj, Dolu Háj; Pale Ale (Pale Ale / Dr. Jones Never Saw It Coming); Auburn; Cacuvela; Kopala Studienku, Pozerala Do Nej; White Cart Water (Cathcart / White Cart Water); Upside Down; Dreams of Matka.

Personnel

Atlantic Road Trip
band / ensemble / orchestra
Paul Towndrow
saxophone, alto
Miro Herak
vibraphone

Album information

Title: ONE | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Calligram Records


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