2

Story City: Times and Materials

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
Story City: Times and Materials Named after a town in Iowa, where drummer Steve Jennings' grandparents used to live, Story City is an octet of likeminded musicians exploring the interface between jazz and more pop-oriented styles. Jennings not only founded the group, but also co-leads it with bassist Terry Burns on Story City's debut, Time and Materials.

The emphasis is on pleasant harmonies and complex arrangements rather than individual improvisations, as the group stays safely close to the melodies. The title track, for example, is more of an instrumental R&B piece, with electronics enhancing a nocturnal mood. Guitarist Karl Koopman adds a few bluesy touches, while Sean Turner's light and aerie piano and Andrew Schwandt's fluid saxophone flirt with ambient music.

Smooth Jazz stylings are heard on "Lead Sky," with its pleasant vamps and electronically created atmosphere, with Turner and Koopman punctuating the tune with tame if not timid solos. The gospel-tinged "Truth to Power" meanders a bit too long, despite its uplifting theme, with contemporary accents abounding in Schwandt's silky soprano and Koopman's gentle guitar. The interesting contrast between Dave Schmalenberger's primal mallets, Koopman's blistering guitar and Schwandt's wailing tenor, however, save the piece from mediocrity.

Soulful compositions like "Fitzwright Inn" and "Silent Joe" allow Schwandt to channel his inner bluesman, with his acerbic, honking solo on the former and stimulating tenor duel with Koopman on the latter. Turner's keyboard work adds a gutbucket sound to both songs.

There is also the occasional appearance of more rock-oriented material. "Dark Place" has the melodic structure of a soft rock ballad, with rhythmic but unobtrusive percussion and wordless vocals. "Loops," on the other hand, harks back to fusion era experiments, with Burns' electric bass setting the beat and his mellifluous duet with Schwandt giving it emotional depth. The result is well-polished and enjoyable, even though it lacks the rawness of classics of genre like trumpeter Miles Davis' Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1969) or Mahavishnu Orchestra's The Inner Mounting Flame (Columbia, 1971).

Even though it may not be for purists, this highly engaging freshman album from an immensely talented ensemble has strong musicianship and enough variety to have a wide appeal.


Track Listing: Drake Place; Loops; Fitzwright Inn; Time and Materials; Truth to Power; Hilltop; Lead Sky; Gratitude; Silent Joe.

Personnel: Andrew Schwandt: saxophones; Karl Koopman: guitar; Steve Jennings: drums; Terry Burns: bass; Sean Turner: keyboards; Steve Faison: vocals and percussion; Shai Hayo: percussion; Dave Schmalenberger: mallets.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Self Produced


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Live in Sant'Anna Arresi 2004" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Sant'Anna Arresi 2004
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 13, 2016
Read "Close Enough" CD/LP/Track Review Close Enough
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 8, 2016
Read "Super Petite" CD/LP/Track Review Super Petite
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 13, 2016
Read "Come Together" CD/LP/Track Review Come Together
by James Nadal
Published: May 27, 2016
Read "Triple Exposure" CD/LP/Track Review Triple Exposure
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Because I Love You" CD/LP/Track Review Because I Love You
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 12, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!