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...

290

Herculaneum: Orange Blossom

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
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).

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

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
 

Uchu

Unknown label
2012

buy
 

Olives & Orchids

Unknown label
2010

buy
Herculaneum III

Herculaneum III

Clean Feed Records
2009

buy
Orange Blossom

Orange Blossom

482 Music
2006

buy

Related Articles

Read Runner in the Rain CD/LP/Track Review
Runner in the Rain
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Cuarteto Europa CD/LP/Track Review
Cuarteto Europa
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Chicago/Buenos Aires Connections CD/LP/Track Review
Chicago/Buenos Aires Connections
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Beggar’s Banquet 50th Anniversary Edition CD/LP/Track Review
Beggar’s Banquet 50th Anniversary Edition
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Intelsat CD/LP/Track Review
Intelsat
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 15, 2018
Read World Gardens CD/LP/Track Review
World Gardens
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 14, 2018
Read "Trio Exaltation" CD/LP/Track Review Trio Exaltation
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 12, 2018
Read "Don't You Wish?" CD/LP/Track Review Don't You Wish?
by Patrick Burnette
Published: March 3, 2018
Read "Rumah Batu" CD/LP/Track Review Rumah Batu
by John Kelman
Published: June 10, 2018
Read "D'Agala" CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "What’s to Come" CD/LP/Track Review What’s to Come
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 28, 2018
Read "Colours Of Your Love: Wild Silk Strings Project" CD/LP/Track Review Colours Of Your Love: Wild Silk Strings Project
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 6, 2018