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Riley Mulherkar: Riley

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Riley Mulherkar: Riley
Trumpeter Riley Mulherkar is best known as the leader of brass group the Westerlies. This, his debut solo album, is a heavily atmospheric session where his trumpet fills plush, cushioned spaces with spare accompaniment from piano, rhythm and voice created by the sound designs of Chris Pattishall and Rafiq Bhatia.

With several classic tunes in the set list, this album acknowledges the jazz trumpet tradition even as it subtly distorts it. "Chicken Coop Blues" and Jelly Roll Morton's "King Porter Stomp" have Mulherkar playing almost solo in frisky classic jazz styles with only a light trace of percussion around him. Elsewhere the recording is so close that Mulherkar's intake of breath becomes a part of the performance. That enhances his intimate duet with Pattishall's piano on "Stardust" and the ambient swirl that overtakes his playing on "Honey Man."

Other pieces flesh out the album's penchant for experimentation. "Ride or Die" is a high-wire display of flashy trumpet set to a strolling rock rhythm and "Looking Out" is an ambient field of stretched-out piano chords. The most striking selection is the old hymn "No More," sung by Vuyo Sotashe through a cavernous hollow of blunt beats and ghostly wails. His voice has a powerful cold fury that comes off sounding like Abbey Lincoln's performances with Max Roach and Mulherkar's solo cleaves through the middle of the piece like a sword of fire.

The contrast between naked intimacy and electronic distortions makes sense here. The music sounds like two sides of the same experimental coin. It has a sense of daring that evokes adventurous trumpet players like Jon Hassell and Peter Evans and a stark beauty that skirts at the outer edges of jazz. This album is a compelling and haunting work.

Track Listing

Chicken Coop Blues; Ride or Die; Looking Out; King Porter Stomp; No More; Stardust; Hopscotch; Looking Up; Honey Man.

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

Chris Pattishall: programming, sound design; Rafiq Bhatia: programming, sound design; Vuyo Sotashe (5).

Album information

Title: Riley | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Westerlies Records


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