2

Shawn Maxwell: Shawn Maxwell's Alliance

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
Shawn Maxwell: Shawn Maxwell's Alliance
Woodwind player and composer Shawn Maxwell's Shawn Maxwell's Alliance on the Chicago Sessions label is a carefully orchestrated suite with a subtle yet distinct dramatic sense. Although the description in the liner notes makes mention of a group of friends experimenting with new styles and sounds the disc is not a blowing date nor it is meant to be one.

The fantastical "Iynes Crayons" opens with a stately, almost baroque theatricality as French horn players Rachel Maxwell and {[Meghan Fulton}} blow mellow, elegiac phrases over bassists Stacy McMichael and Marc Piane's reverberating strings. Guitarist Mitch Corso's ethereal sonic swells add to the dark, fairy tale like ambience particularly as they stretches over drummer Paul Townsend's galloping sticks. Maxwell's own resonant flute plays the theme in unison with singer Keri Johnsrud's haunting wordless vocalise ushering in a Jethro Tull-esque mood. Corso's bluesy blistering improvisation is raw yet cerebral and Maxwell's rollicking solo is complex, innovative while remaining accessible.

The record is also imbued with poetry as the intriguing four-way conversation on "From Parts Unknown" demonstrates. Soprano saxophonist Chris Greene and Maxwell trade spontaneous melodic lines that emerge from the overlapping shimmering textures that the ensemble weaves. Elsewhere the edgy "Quartan" is a brief and intense abstract tune with saxophones' atonal and eerie screech rising over darkly shimmering harmonies.

Hints of Levantine mystique appear on such pieces as "Shadowbox" and "Perpetual Day One." The first opens with Maxwell's clarinet's exuberant tone, albeit tinged with a touch of melancholy. His mellifluous duet with Greene evolves over percussionist Stephen Lynerd's mid eastern beats. On the latter Maxwell's saxophone floats over dancing rhythms that Lynerd's cool mallet strikes carefully and intriguingly accentuate with a magical flourish.

Maxwell and his "Alliance" can also get down and dirty with a heavy funk infused groove like on the soulful "Pistols N' Tulips." The two bassists take turns extemporizing. As one opens with a tight, inventive agile pizzicato the other closes with a passionate and memorable con arco with the band's rough-hewn lyricism and laid back swagger in support.

Maxwell's genre mixing not only does not make the record sound disjointed, but his signature; repetitive motifs enhance its conceptual unity. The exquisite balance of orchestration and individual freedom of expression together with Maxwell's compositional ingenuity and deft leadership make the album a singular work of true musical fusion.

Track Listing

Fun Five Funk; Lynes Crayons; EGOT; From Parts Unknown; Song For Something Else; Plaza; Waiting Food; Pistols N' Tulips; Bitty Bitty Beep; Quartan; Radio Hit Number Four; Here's Your Swing Tune; Little Ninja Groove; Perpetual Day One; Looking For Alex; Full Count; Shadowbox; You Alright? I Learned It By Watching You.

Personnel

Shawn Maxwell: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet; Chris Greene: soprano saxophone; Keri Johnsrud: voice; Stephen Lynerd: vibraphone, percussion; Mitch Corso:guitar; Rachel Maxwell: french horn; Meghan Fulton: french horn; Stacy McMichael: bass; Marc Piane: bass; Paul Townsend: drums.

Album information

Title: Shawn Maxwell's Alliance | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Chicago Session LTD.

Post a comment about this album

Watch

Tags

View events near Chicago
Jazz Near Chicago
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Shop Amazon

More

Read Light In The World
Light In The World
Nocturnal Four
Read A Time And A Place
A Time And A Place
Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language
Read Mayan Suite
Mayan Suite
Brian Andres
Read When You Find It
When You Find It
Arthur White and Merge
Read Rainbow Baby
Rainbow Baby
Cathlene Pineda
Read An Open Dialogue
An Open Dialogue
Linda Sikhakhane

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.