Trumpeter/flugelhornist Ron Horton came onto my radar—floating on a cloud, it seemed—on Andrew Hill's Dusk (Palmetto, 2000). His solo on that disc's stunningly beautiful title track drifted and roiled with a understated, dreamy poetic grace, a song within a song, a personalized expansion of Hill's theme. The approach on Subtextures is much the same.
The recording opens with an Andrew Hill composition, "Cantarnos," and includes four Horton originals; a Chopin piece; pianist Frank Kimbrough's "Rumors"; and Horton's take on an early chorale work by Messiaen.
Horton employs all-star accompaniment here: pianist Frank Kimbrough ( Quickening, Omnitone, 2004), bassist Ben Allison ( Peace Pipe, Palmetto, 2002), and drummer Matt Wilson ( Humidity, Palmetto, 2003), a group that interacts with with intimacy and imagination. Horton—on his own compositions as well as on the covers—tells stories in a beautifully oblique way that walks a fine line between free and more mainstream sounds. Melody reigns, but the trumpeter and his bandmates approach it from curves and angles, giving the music a very open feel. Open but still accessible.
"O Sacrum Convivium" (Messiaen) rides a cushion of introspection with a subtle insistence, while the title tune churns with a persuasive and gradually building, propulsive drive. "Mutability" fits into the Miles Davis mid-sixties mode with its drive and sharper edges. "Malaby," for tenor sax man Tony Malaby, holds a tint of darker "subtextures," featuring some of drummer Wilson's and bassist Allison's most interesting work on the disc, followed by Frank Kimbrough's intricately angular piano solo.
All in all, a cohesive band creating an interesting and off-center set of sounds.
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