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Album Review

Matt Ulery: Pollinator


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Matt Ulery: Pollinator
What a wonderful lift to an otherwise dismal year is Pollinator, Chicago based bassist Matt Ulery's unabashed revelry in swing jazz circa King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton. Add a few pops, skips and other random surface noises to the sound of these eight unbridled, hothouse Ulery compositions and you'd swear you were sitting in and listening to the real thing. Because Pollinator sure sounds like your grandad's 78s. Those mysteriously heavy, black platters that set you on this beautiful musical journey to begin with. These are the crackling, firework sounds that held you in place, staring, as the record ran its odd, sometime wobbly grooves, trying to find where all the joyful, boisterous noise was emanating from.

Celebrating a century since the riotous, roaring 20's, Ulery, ten discs into an illustrious canon, gives it all he's got and we are the better for it. He may consider these wild, whimsical musings an art project or a parallel of millennial prohibitions (first booze, now movement) but there's a tremendous amount of art and concepts about art out there that don't make you immediately twist 'n shout! That don't inspire merrymaking in or out of isolation.

With a snapping rat-a-tat-tat, "Clown Drum" jump starts this bubbling recording on its roller coaster way. Powered as it is by the absolutely giddy, blade-sharp interplay of trumpeter James Davis and tenor Dustin Laurenzi on the melody line and trombonist Steve Duncan and pianist Paul Bedal on the harmonic front, "Clown Drum" is damn, dazzlingly good at the compact time of four minutes fifty, but you'll find yourself wishing, like you did back then beside the old man's victrola, that the music would go on forever.

Pollinator then proceeds boasting a bold, infectious clarity. Ulery, returns to his original instrument, the sousaphone, and his deep pumping drive alongside Quin Kirchner's snap-happy drums cuts no corners and breaches no posers, making it impossible for the front horns not to daredevil soar on any given track. The vibrancy spills over from "So Long, Toots" to the hopping exhilaration of "Jelly" (both tracks could serve to score the next Woody Allen mid- town comedy should Allen's and Ulery's management happen to connect) to the ribaldry of "Cakes" and "Soup Talk." "Feed" and "Clover" close Pollinator on a slower, more cautious but no less effervescent note. Irrepressible from start to finish here's another outing sure to make many of the year end's best ofs.

Track Listing

Clown Drum; So Long, Toots; Dropping' In; Jelly; Cakes; Soup Talk; Feed; Clover.


Matt Ulery: bass, acoustic; James Davis: trumpet; Dustin Laurenzi: saxophone, tenor; Steve Duncan: trombone; Paul Bedal: piano; Quin Kirshner: drums.

Album information

Title: Pollinator | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Woolgathering Records

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