With his second release for this UK-based progressive record label, award-winning saxophonist/composer/bandleader Bob Belden nurtures and perhaps challenges a youthful cast of musicians who are graduates from his alma mater, the University of North Texas. Moving further east, however, the premise for the production, resides within Belden's impressionistic sensibilities of Manhattan.
Belden's jazz-fusion applications paint a sinister viewpoint of the Big Apple, where intermittent rays of light slice through foreboding alleyways and busy thoroughfares. Here, the ensemble melds steamy contrasts with in-your-face-like grooves amid spacey electronic keys segments, simmering horns and polychromatic montages.
Marked by a concentrated focus, the musicians pay attention to detail; hence, the animation component becomes an underlying mantra as Belden's articulate arrangements are countered by the soloists' neural approach to improvisation. In a loose sense, he urges his young ensemble beyond an institutional setting.
The title track is indicative of the album's overall presentation, although each piece stands on its own. Abetted by drummer Matt Young's crisp stick work and polyrhythmic aplomb, and Roberto Verastegui's ominous electric keys, the ensemble resonates a rite of passage, weaving through the bustling Manhattan streets, as Peter Clagett's muted trumpet aligns with Belden's warm sax parts for a foreboding sequence of choruses, atop the darting rhythmic clusters and subtly melodic movements. Angular, and impacting, the musicians render a gradually climactic foray while emitting a prismatic array of fleeting tone poems during the bridge. Here, they mingle an open-ended panorama with a capacious musical environment that segues to a simmering finale.
Belden's unflappable aura, astute technical abilities, and futuristic vision once again yield notable residuals during this fascinating encounter, designed with highly artistic qualities and augmented by the respective artists' killer chops.
Track Listing: Terra Incognito; Urbanoia; Cry in the Wind; Transparent Heart; Seven Towers;
Provocatism; Vanishment; Occupy!.
Personnel: Bob Belden: saxophone, flute; Peter Clagett: trumpet and effects; Jacob Smith: bass;
Roberto Verastegui: keyboards and samplers; Matt Young: drums.