All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

4

Neil Welch: Twelve Tiny Explosions

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
It's good when an album title tells it like it is. Twelve Tiny Explosions is Seattle tenor saxophonist Neil Welch's third solo saxophone album and consists of a dozen tunes, each of which can be described as an "explosion." Welch's technical ability on his instrument of choice, sheer power and inventive musicality combine to create a challenging, mind-blowing and often rather lovely battery of sounds.

As with his Boxworks (Table & Chairs, 2011), Welch fashions every sound from his tenor sax: at times it's difficult to believe that this single instrument can make so much noise. Innovative recording strategies, such as amplification of the mouthpiece and close-miking of different parts of the horn, enable Welch to use the opening and closing of valves to create rhythms, to use his breathing as punctuation, and to explore every inch of his chosen instrument.

Powerful, intense tunes like "Dedicated To Drummer Chris Icasiano"—with its looping, repetitive, squeals—and the hard-blowing "Iron Cloud" have the most immediate impact. The impressively high level of energy and commitment which Welch invests in these numbers is impossible to miss. Each of these tracks is a triumph of Welch's respiratory endurance, especially the 11-minute "Mount Index" with the tenor sax sounding like the offspring of a warning klaxon and a foghorn. At his most forceful, as he is here, Welch's explosions are far from tiny—his entire being is directed at the creation and manipulation of sound.

In the long run, however, it's the subtler tracks that hold the greatest appeal. The calm of "Rivers" or the barely controlled release of "Willing Joy"—on which it sounds as if he might burst open at any second—not only contrast with the more powerful numbers, they also give Welch the space to highlight his more nuanced playing. He transmits the emotional tension of "A Nameless Sorrow" and the dreamlike soundscapes of "Places Like Needles, Nevada" and "Vermont" through gentle, controlled playing rather than sheer force.

Twelve Tiny Explosions isn't a completely honest title. There are actually thirteen pieces—"Rivers" being listed as a bonus track. Instead, it's a baker's dozen of tiny explosions, each one bursting with energy and life, each one a testament to Welch's very individual vision of the musical possibilities of the tenor saxophone.

Track Listing: A Nameless Sorrow; A Song Cycle For Missouri; A Storm In Nebraska; Willing Joy; Dedicated To Drummer Chris Icasiano; Places Like Needles, Nevada; Vermont; Kansas: Dusk At A Brown Field; Iron Cloud; In Dedication To Artist Meredith Monk; Mount Index; Tiny Explosions; Rivers.

Personnel: Neil Welch: tenor saxophone.

Title: Twelve Tiny Explosions | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Table & Chairs

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
 

12 Tiny Explosions

Creative Sources
2013

buy
Twelve Tiny Explosions

Twelve Tiny Explosions

Table & Chairs
2013

buy
Boxwork

Boxwork

Table and Chairs Music
2012

buy
Sleeper

Sleeper

Tables & Chairs
2012

buy
 

Iron Creek

Creative Sources
2011

buy
 

Boxwork

Creative Sources
2011

buy

Related Articles

Read Murals CD/LP/Track Review
Murals
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Cosmic Language CD/LP/Track Review
Cosmic Language
by Chris May
Published: May 20, 2018
Read More Songs About Error And Shame CD/LP/Track Review
More Songs About Error And Shame
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley CD/LP/Track Review
Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Earth CD/LP/Track Review
Earth
by Chris May
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Vegir CD/LP/Track Review
Vegir
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 19, 2018
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 "The Truth" CD/LP/Track Review The Truth
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 17, 2017
Read "The Subject Tonight Is Love" CD/LP/Track Review The Subject Tonight Is Love
by Jerome Wilson
Published: February 26, 2018
Read "Petite Fleur: The Music of Sidney Bechet" CD/LP/Track Review Petite Fleur: The Music of Sidney Bechet
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 9, 2018
Read "No Answer" CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "In Stride" CD/LP/Track Review In Stride
by Barry O'Sullivan
Published: January 29, 2018