"Metropolis," the genre-shifting, stomping, opening track on alto saxophonist Greg Ward's acrobatic sophomore disc, introduces his electric jazz vision with a bristling and nervy rock 'n' roll verve. It's anchored by the sprawling kinetic energy of Chicago's tireless rhythm duo of drummer Quin Kirchner and bassist Matt Ulery, and the cutting clarity and dissonance of guitarists Matt Gold and Dave Miller.
With rhythmic atmospherics and reverberant dual six-string manipulations, Rogue Parade (the quintet's official tag) make gutsy Ward compositions like "Excerpt 1," the precariously grooved "The Contender," and "The Fourth Reverie" swell into their wildly eclectic, aggressive selves, highlighting Ward's fluid sense of melodic line and spacious, ensemble based, writing style. On "Let Him Live" Ward moves stealthily in and out of the mix, choosing instead for the song to become a pulsing see-saw creationthe rhythm section up one moment and the guitarists up the next, creating an oddly meditative, if not openly hypnotic effect.
Ulery opens the especially broad "Black Woods" with a nimble, rich pizzicato giving way to bowing as the track comes into being, seemingly from some astral plane only these players are keenly attuned to. Miller and Gold filigree in and around around Ward's ebullient solos or dance in tandem with the leader as Kirchner rumbles and rides completing the group synergy. At eleven minutes plus, "Pitch Black Promenade" is a vivid, vital montage, taking in all the musical and virtuoso elements presented before it then allowing them to weave and ramble, expand, and withdraw quietly. An effortlessly bright, inventive pop/rock take on "Stardust" of all things follows, before Ward closes out this totally engaging installment of his artistic growth with the glimmering translucence and melodic build of "Sundown."
Metropolis; Excerpt 1; The Contender; The Fourth Reverie; Let Him Live; Black Woods; Pitch Black
Promenade; Stardust; Sundown.
Greg Ward: alto saxophone; Matt Gold: guitar, effects; Dave Miller: guitar, effects; Matt Ulery: acoustic guitar,
electric bass; Quin Kirchner, drums.
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