4

Nate Radley: The Big Eyes

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Jazz musicians often emphasize the importance of having big ears when finding a place in the music, but big eyes are equally important. Tunnel vision and a general lack of ability to see the big picture have plagued many a musician, but guitarist Nate Radley needs no corrective musical lenses. Radley's panoramic outlook and long range sight give him a unique perspective that's on display for all to hear on his debut recording.

Radley has been building his sideman portfolio over the past few years, appearing on impressive dates with the likes of trombonist Alan Ferber, vibraphonist Matthias Lupri and saxophonist Loren Stillman, but he's finally putting his own music first. The guitarist penned all nine compositions that appear on the album and the majority of the music speaks to his fondness for long lines, dynamic development and gray-streaked atmospheres. Traces of Mike Moreno, Radiohead, Bill Frisell and Adam Rogers are noticeable at various times and in various ways, but Radley's in no danger of being dubbed a clone of anyone on this list.

His music moves from quirky and energetically off-centered ("Boo") to curious and contented ("The Big Eyes"), but a common thread can be found in most of this work. These songs tend to take form around shifting tides of energy, with Radley and drummer Ted Poor controlling the power output for the entire working unit. Radley is a mood architect who's able to move from states of desolation to anger to repose with relative ease and Poor is his perfect drumming mate. He has an effortless sense of groove, but he's one of the least pattern-driven players on the scene. Poor puts a steady, never-moving backbeat into play when needed, but he sounds best when he adjusts to the ever-changing topographical needs of the music.

While the rest of the band isn't as instrumental in directing the flow of the music, they're indispensable ingredients in Radley's recipes. Stillman proves to be a simpatico frontline mate for the guitarist, since both men prefer overcast skies to blue horizons, and bassist Matt Pavolka provides a sense of stability at every turn. Pete Rende's Fender Rhodes is often unobtrusive, but he makes his mark on the bristling "Ascent" and the slow roaming "All That's Solid."

Radley's music, by and large, is driven by personalities rather than theories or concepts and that seems to work just fine. The Big Eyes isn't melodic ear candy or chops galore, but it's thoroughly engrossing and wholly unique in its design. This may be a first effort, but it certainly doesn't sound like one.

Track Listing: Boo, January; Ascent; Silver Lining; Archipelago; The Big Eyes; Wise River; Blue Square; All That's Solid.

Personnel: Nate Radley: guitar; Loren Stillman: alto saxophone; Pete Rende: Fender Rhodes; Matt Pavolka: bass; Ted Poor: drums.

Title: The Big Eyes | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read A Night Walking Through Mirrors CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Barry Witherden
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jondo CD/LP/Track Review Jondo
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jazz Flute Traditions CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Flute Traditions
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Nerve Dance CD/LP/Track Review Nerve Dance
by John Sharpe
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Déjà Vu CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts CD/LP/Track Review Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 20, 2017
Read "Still" CD/LP/Track Review Still
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 23, 2016
Read "Live" CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "Amour Cruel" CD/LP/Track Review Amour Cruel
by Peter Jurew
Published: July 29, 2017
Read "Away With You" CD/LP/Track Review Away With You
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 9, 2016
Read "Langen ro" CD/LP/Track Review Langen ro
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 8, 2017
Read "Jazz Marathon 2" CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Marathon 2
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 20, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.