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On a Limb: When the Skies Parted

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On a Limb: When the Skies Parted
When the Skies Parted is the third album from the Cincinnati trio, On a Limb, but their first since they moved to New York in 2021. It follows on from Replaying the Tapes (Honestly Records, 2020). There are six tracks over the 45 minutes of the album, five composed by pianist Andrew Haug and one written by bassist Ethan Marsh. The trio is completed by drummer Charlie Schefft. Some of the compositions were developed during the pandemic, when they rehearsed outside to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. The tracks were finally clarified and brought into focus by developing them over four days at Firehouse 12 Studios.

Haug spent many years studying formal classical music before graduating from Cincinnati's Conservatory of Music with a degree in jazz performance. His classical background frequently comes to the fore in his agile and well-founded compositions. Marsh and Schefft and are both multi-instrumentalists and leaders in their own right. The band members have a strong depth of experience having played with JD Allen, T.S. Monk and Glenn Zaleski.

The album is full of sympathetic interplay and imagination, as evidenced by the pulsing bass and nimble drums leading into the bittersweet melody of the opening track, "Know What You Know." The classical influence is clear with Haug's piano creating a strong European cinematic feel. The atmosphere is heightened by Haug and Marsh providing a wordless background vocal drone. "Cut to the Chase" has recurring rhythmic patterns as Marsh's bass weaves around improvised piano. Drum and bass entwine before Haug adds bluesy piano expressions in "Tried to Leave My Demons in Otis." Marsh provides an eloquent arco bass solo before fluid undulating piano runs lead into improvisation.

This is a complete trio enterprise with all members providing equal voices in the musical flow. Schefft's drumming moves from sympathetic to exuberant. Marsh's bass is lyrical, with a touch of flamboyance. Haug finds the decisive moments in the melody. "Train Chasing" sees him move from melodic ballad to bluesy up-tempo improv over quicksilver bass and articulate drum breaks.

The European classical piano sound is there again in "Into the River." Marsh delivers a mellow solo as the track builds with a hint of indie-rock melancholy. Melodic bell-like chimes on piano open Marsh's composition, "Song 102." The interplay between bass and piano brings out the blues flavours. As with the rest of the album, the moods move from meditative to uplifting, from structural arrangement to inventive improvisation, from an entertaining trio with a clear idea of what they want to express.

Track Listing

Know What You Know; Cut to the Chase; Tried to Leave My Demons in Otis; Train Chasing; Into the River; Song 102.

Personnel

On a Limb
band / ensemble / orchestra

Album information

Title: When the Skies Parted | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Honestly Records


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