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Album Review

Alex Tremblay: Thoughts & Images

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Alex Tremblay: Thoughts & Images
The Thoughts & Images on bassist Alex Tremblay's album of that name are essentially his own (he composed and arranged every number), so the outcome must be appraised for the most part using those ingredients as a touchstone. Not that the musicianship is unimportant; on the contrary, the way in which Tremblay's quintet assesses and performs his generally agreeable themes is another notable element in the equation.

While Tremblay's ideas are mainly well-defined and accessible, he has done himself no favors by assuming that a pair of vocals might enhance the outcome, even though one of them ("Hymn for the Early Departed") was written to honor the young victims of the horrific mass shooting at Connecticut's Sandy Hook High School in 2012. Granted, Tremblay's heart is in the right place, but this is a dirge, a solemn and slumberous way to lower the curtain on an otherwise upbeat session. Vanisha Gould uses vocalese on that number, and sings on Tremblay's "The Yellow Rose," another sleep-inducing ballad whose lyrics no doubt have deep meaning for the composer but do not translate as well to the listener.

Elsewhere, Tremblay sticks more closely to customary jazz guidelines; the ensemble is the better for it, summoning well-knit rhythms from Tremblay and drummer Evan Hyde, and engaging solos from pianist Taber Gable, guitarist Tony Davis and alto saxophonist Nicholas Biello (not to mention Tremblay himself who ad libs persuasively on "Moral Dilemma," "Helen's Waltz" and "Resurgence"). Tremblay's other compositions are the buoyant "City of Angels" and sinuous "Sun God."

Altogether this is an uneven yet often likeable album whose strong points easily outweigh its missteps. While not all of Tremblay's Thoughts & Images hit the mark, many of them are clearly worth sharing.

Track Listing

City of Angels; Moral Dilemma; Karma; Yellow Rose; The Sun God; Helen's Waltz; Resurgence; Hymn for the Early Departed.

Personnel

Alex Tremblay: bass; Nicholas Biello : saxophone, alto; Taber Gable: keyboards; Tony Davis: guitar; Evan Hyde : drums; Vanisha Gold: voice / vocals.

Album information

Title: Thoughts & Images | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: La Reserve Records

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