1

Slumgum / Hugh Ragin: The Sky His Own

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
Slumgum / Hugh Ragin: The Sky His Own Slumgum exhibits a sophisticated voice and thematic cohesiveness on this, its third release, The Sky His Own. These characteristics are a testament to this innovative Los Angeles-based quartet's camaraderie and shared ideology, as all members of the group, including guest cornetist Hugh Ragin, contribute unique compositions.

Ragin's expansive "Silver Cornet News" starts off hinting at hard bop, with drummer Trevor Anderies energetically driving the melody. Known for the breadth of his ingenuity, Ragin does not disappoint, as his mellowed cornet weaves an imaginative improvisation that flirts with freer sounds. After a brief and advanced duet with saxophonist Jon Armstrong's breathy soprano, the proverbial baton passes to the reedman. Armstrong continues in the same adventurous spirit, but peppers his solo with hints of Sidney Bechet-like trad jazz tones. Pianist Rory Cowal 's rounded and bluesy notes are backed by hot rhythms, as they melt into David Tranchina's tuba-inspired bass and Anderies' almost primal beats.

This trend of borrowing inspiration from various genres is one of the record's themes. Armstrong's somber "Farewell" is, at times, a New Orleans jazz funeral, with long mournful notes of the horns, replete with stately quotes including from the national anthem. In other instances, as Cowal's solemn piano arpeggios roll in front of martial bass and drum rhythms, it is reminiscent of a Western marche funebre.

Not only are the lines between different styles blurred, but the boundaries between composition and improvisation. It is safe to say that delineation between form and freedom is almost completely erased as creative spontaneity and balanced, harmonic structure fuse into a single living entity. Anderies' "Kyo" brims with Zen spirituality. His bells enhance Cowell's hesitant and resonant piano chimes, as silence predominates its opening bars. The somber ambience is further enhanced as Tranchina's sparse and pensive strings echo the occasional, anguished cries of the horns. An angular bass and drum vamp builds up the tempo, and a framework upon which a complex and abstract conversation takes place between the other three. Out of this emerges a distinctly eastern, longing and undulating melody that brings the piece to its satisfying and natural conclusion.

With The Sky His Own Slumgum has recorded their best work to date and not only because of inimitable Hugh Ragin's collaboration but also due to the crystallization and maturity of their own musical vision.

Track Listing: Zoyoki Gnoki; Silver Cornet News; Farewell; Bread and Butter; Mayday; Kyo; Inherent Vibrations; Minuet.

Personnel: Hugh Ragin: cornet; Jon Armstrong: tenor and soprano saxophones; Rory Cowal: piano; Dave Tranchina: bass; Trevor Anderies: drums.

Title: The Sky His Own | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Nine Winds Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Such A Sky CD/LP/Track Review Such A Sky
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31 CD/LP/Track Review Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 25, 2017
Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "Marianne" CD/LP/Track Review Marianne
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 28, 2016
Read "Pulsation" CD/LP/Track Review Pulsation
by Nicola Negri
Published: August 1, 2016
Read "Mass" CD/LP/Track Review Mass
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: November 2, 2016
Read "Ljubljana" CD/LP/Track Review Ljubljana
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 2, 2017
Read "Nomad" CD/LP/Track Review Nomad
by Nick Davies
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "Heart Of Gold: Live In Aarhus" CD/LP/Track Review Heart Of Gold: Live In Aarhus
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 19, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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