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Adam Meckler Orchestra: When The Clouds Look Like This

Dan Bilawsky By

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The image that adorns the cover of When The Clouds Look Like This—three weathered valves rising from the mist, a finger button inexplicably missing from the middle valve—is something of a mystery. Is it a riddle? A metaphor of some sort? Or is it simply an image that appealed to these musicians? Only those involved with the project can answer those questions, but the cover is certainly thought provoking, just like the music that sits beneath it.

Adam Meckler—a composer-educator-trumpeter who's toured with Todd Clouser's A Love Electric, Youngblood Brass Band, and numerous other groups—brought together a crew of the Twin Cities' best musicians to realize his compositions for jazz orchestra. The will to create and document, along with the financial support that came from a Kickstarter campaign and the MacPhail Center for Music's Artist Development grant, helped him bring that band into the studio and come out with this absorbing album.

Across six tracks, Meckler asserts his personality. The music speaks to his diverse interests, touching on different styles and ideas while speaking in a single language. Broken drum beats serve as a lead-in to elongated tones, punchy riffs and asides, and piano musings ("Busta Jones"); soprano saxophone peaks around corners and perches itself in various locales ("Skyline"); trumpet and tenor saxophone converse in sly fashion, upping the ante as they go ("Sparkly Eyes"); Maria Schneider-influenced beauty paintings float and hang in the air ("When The Clouds Look Like This"); and the music goes wonderfully and intentionally askew ("Beautiful Beatrice"). All the while, the orchestra creates atmospheres, walls of sound, supportive strains, riffs, or plain old silence, sitting aside when intimacy must triumph over grandeur. Meckler wisely knows when to use everything at his disposal and when to simply let things be.

While projects like this are built around the composer's work and the group dynamic at play, solo voices help to further shape the sound of the work. Meckler, saxophonists Nelson Devereaux and Ben Doherty, and a handful of others help to stack personality over personality here. If clouds looked like this music sounds, people would be staring at them for hours on end.

Track Listing: Busta Jones; Skyline; Sparkly Eyes; When The Clouds Look Like This; Open Your Eyes; Beautiful Beatrice.

Personnel: Adam Meckler:trumpet; Tom Krochock: trumpet; Sten Johnson: trumpet; Cameron Kinghorn: trumpet; Noah Ophoven Baldwin: trumpet; Keith Hilson: trombone; Nick Syman: trombone; Mason Hemmer: trombone; Jenn Werner: trombone; Nelson Devereaux: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; David Hirsch: alto saxophone; Ben Doherty: tenor saxophone; Shilad Sen: tenor saxophone; Angie Hirsch: baritone saxophone; Steven Hobert: piano (3, 5, 6); Joe Strachan: piano (1, 2, 4); Trent Baarspul: guitat; Adrian Suarez: drumer (1, 2, 4); Peter Hennig: drums (3, 5, 6); Graydon Peterson: bass (1, 2, 4); Chris Bates: bass (3, 5, 6).

Title: When The Clouds Look Like This | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced

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