Chicago based trio Laurenzi-Ernst-Green's debut Sightline
is an atmospheric album filled with intriguing patterns and exuberant and elegant spontaneity. An intimate mysticism imbues this collaborative effort of seven original compositions with a modal bent.
Bassist Katie Ernst's wordless vocals hauntingly echo saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi
's big toned tenor on the mesmerizing "Skoops," while her resonant strings match his vibrato filled sound to a dramatic effect. Drummer Andrew Green
's thunderous, almost martial beats drive the passionate and electrifying tune that mixes free flowing improvisations with rock sensibilities.
Green's boisterous polyrhythmic solo brings the otherwise mellow "Phases" to a thrilling conclusion. Green drives Laurenzi and Green's intricate and intimate sonic dance with reserved insistence. Laurenzi's undulating, poetic lines loosely wrap around Ernst's warn, lyrical and agile bass-work.
Ernst's singing maintains the lilting tenderness of her playing. On "I Have My Doubts," a crystalline piece, with a darkly hued shimmer, her hypnotic, evocative voice floats over the instruments' earthy vamps. Laurenzi's saxophone mirrors and expands on Ernst's melodic ideas with mellifluousness and enough angularity to provoke and delight.
There is a bit of stylistic and conceptual redundancy across tracks. The contemplative "AS- 80" and the serene "Simple Song," for instance, feature a similar dramatic and expectant ambience created by sparse notes, thrums and reverberations. Both include complex, inspired three way conversations and close peacefully. The former is a bit more pensive and the latter more ethereal.
"Big Papes" and the Dorothy Parker verse "Very Short Song" also share comparable harmonic motifs. They are both delicately melancholic with a nostalgic mood. This repetition, however, never becomes superfluous thanks primarily to the seamless and intuitive camaraderie among the three and their superlative musicianship and talent.
This freshman effort from three imaginative and gifted artists is bold in its youthful energy, sophisticated in its thematic unity and despite its minor flaws, quite fresh, enjoyable and exciting.
Phases; A Very Short Song; Big Papes; Skoops; Simple Song; I Have My Doubts; AS-80.
Dustin Laurenzi: tenor saxophone; Katie Ernst: bass & voice; Andrew Green: drums.