Sleeper is a quality product from noted Seattle new music and jazz saxophonist Neil Welch, who composed the lone 28-minute title track based on an incident that occurred during the US presence in Iraq. Sans rhythm section, Welch paints a vivid storyline, interspersing microtonal extended notes with deft subtleties and touches upon contemporary classical frameworks. Since the plot is based on a military endeavor, he generates an impassioned and intertwining progression of musical events throughout.
At times listening to this piece is like walking a tightrope, where tension and jubilance attain equal footing. With pumping horns and perhaps a few nods to composer Philip Glass's famed compositional style, based on minimalism and cyclical theme-building forays, Welch's music also features improvisational breakouts. Shifting tides and free-form dialogues are prominent factors contrasting the alternating flows. Towards the finale, the ensemble projects a lighthearted stance via disparate tonalities and sonorous textures, leading to a gushing sense of controlled-chaos tempered by a calming effect.
Sleeper usually moves along a slow to medium-tempo path, shaded with ascending climaxes and seamlessly executed time changes that help shape the course of action amid copious diversions. Semi-structured but sounding more composed then improvised, the artist instills a mood-evoking set of circumstances containing memorable melodies and stark environs. Indeed, this is a superior work of art that reveals additional rewards on subsequent listens.
Neil Welch: tenor and soprano saxophones; Ivan Arteaga, alto and soprano saxophones; Jesse Canterbury: bass clarinet; Vincent LaBelle: trombone; David Balatero: cello; Natalie Hall: cello.
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.