Soundtrack music can complement a piece of cinema by adding suspense, describe the onscreen action or, in the case of a silent movie, provide the sounds of pratfalls and doorbells. The first spin of Rob Mosher's Polebridge could easily recall the soundtrack to a Buster Keaton silent film. The liner notes explain that the music is a soundtrack, there's just no movie. The story is all in the composer's head.
The Canadian-born, now Brooklyn-resident saxophonist sets his chamber jazz tale in the tiny Montana town of Polebridge (an actual town, population 88). The music is rooted in a country/folk adaptation of Schumann and Prokofiev, but is visited by immigrants from South America, Eastern Europe and, maybe, Bugs Bunny, if he makes that wrong turn in Albuquerque. Polebridge builds upon Mosher's Storytime: The Tortoise (Old Mill, 2008) an intermingling of classical, folk and jazz orchestration. His approach speaks of isolation in the North Fork Valley of Montana and the consequences of biogeography, or what might be created musically, if isolated in a small town.
The disc opens with the violin/fiddle duet "Pass The Beer Bread," a country bumpkin piece that sneaks in little tastes of dissonance. Mosher never quite confines this music to any one genre. He places his clarinet, Micah Killion's trumpet, and John Marcus' violin at the center of an unbalanced tango. His music constantly paints a motion picture of the imagination. Guest Petr Cancura sits in on mandolin for the haunting tone poem "North By Northwest" and the Raymond Scott-inspired "Sketch #1." Scott's music and Carl Stalling's adaptations for Warner Brother's cartoons are clear touchstones. Mosher's klezmer piece "The Klesmanaughts" sets varying characters loose via Scott's "The Penguin," with its waddling trumpets and clarinets, and the ultimate piano chase up and down the staircases.
To this chamber music, Mosher throws in some saloon piano and a cast of characters that includes rustlers, South American cowboys, drifters, and "Cowboy Ben." Ben, as Stephanie Nilles recounts, is a Texas musician who, well, she's heard stories about! Indeed, Mosher can spin a yarn or two himself.
Pass The Beer Bread; Rango’s Tango; Marigold; Sketch #1; Sketch #2; North By Northwest; The Klesmanaughts; Around The Bend; Parade Of Two; Didn’t Ask (Breathe Now); Sketch #3; Cowboy Ben.
Rob Mosher: soprano saxophone, clarinet, English horn; Micah Killon: trumpet; John Marcus: violin; Stephanie Nilles: grand piano, saloon piano, B3 organ, voice; Andrew Small: acoustic bass, fiddle; Peter Lutek: bassoon, contra alto clarinet (10); Petr Cancura: mandolin (4,
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