Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Herculaneum: Orange Blossom

290

Herculaneum: Orange Blossom

By

Sign in to view read count
Herculaneum: Orange Blossom
Herculaneum is both the sister city to Pompeii, also destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and a blazingly original modernist quintet with capable chops and ample ideas. The brainchild of drummer Dylan Ryan, the group's resident composer, Herculaneum is a rare entity: a new group that seemingly arrives from nowhere, fully formed with its own sound. Although Orange Blossom is Herculaneum's second album, following an eponymous 2004 debut, it is likely the first one most people will hear.

As the principal composer, Ryan has an uncanny knack for writing melodic hooks. With a piano-less rhythm section and a three-horn front line at his disposal, Ryan has a wealth of stylistic precedents to draw from, yet he finds inspiration in forging his own path. Rather than simply settling for traditional structures or conventional arrangements, he keeps his group well-nourished with a balanced mix of supple rhythms, gorgeous melodies and challenging frameworks for improvisation.

The tunes are consistently well-written and irresistibly memorable, not just linear constructions devised for thematic variation. These pieces will stay with you long after you've heard them. "Bears of Illium" and "Let There Be Neon" are gorgeous post bop excursions. "Fuzball In Valhalla" is haunting; guest guitarist John Bear accents Ryan's spare vibraphone statements inside a melody that emulates post-rock as much as it does post bop.

Andra Kulans takes center stage on "Cry of the Locusts," a heartfelt, lyrical duet between her expressive viola and Ryan's minimal, yearning solo turn at the piano. The group launches themselves headlong into infectious rhythms on "Lionheart" and "Twin Unicorns," both polyrhythmic showpieces with contrapuntal melodies, dovetailing horn statements and a pseudo-Latin drive. The majority of the tunes are mid-tempo excursions interwoven with rich lyrical content and strong solo statements.

Young improvisers tend to emulate their idols for some time before making a mark themselves. Herculaneum is already beyond such imitation. Combining nuance, subtlety and a refreshing dose of originality, Orange Blossom is one of the finest albums by an up-and-coming ensemble one is likely to hear this year.

Track Listing

Bears of Illium; Let There Be Neon; Fuzball in Valhalla; Girl We Couldn't Get Much Higher; Lionheart; Cry of the Locusts; Twin Unicorns; Return to the Woods.

Personnel

Nick Broste: trombone; Greg Danek: bass; David McDonnell: alto saxophone, clarinet; Patrick Newbery: trumpet; Dylan Ryan: drums, vibraphone, piano; John Beard: guitar (3); Andra Kulans: viola (6).

Album information

Title: Orange Blossom | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: 482 Music


Next >
What Exit

Comments

Tags


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

Stick Together
Behn Gillece
Perpetual Void
Marta Sanchez Trio with Chris Tordini and...
September Night
Tomasz Stańko

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.