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Footprints: When You Dream

Dan Bilawsky By

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Dreams can be vivid or cloudy, mellow or intense, and everything in between. Ditto for the music on When You Dream, the debut release from Footprints. This New York City-based band might bear the name of one of Wayne Shorter's most popular songs—and take inspiration from none other than Miles Davis, Shorter's longtime employer—but their music is of their own creation.

Like dreams themselves, the music of Footprints lives in an uncertain, ever-evolving plane of existence. Its songs, by and large, tend to shift from established rhythmic tides to looser realms, or vice versa, and a lot of this has to do with masterful playing from bassist Peter Yuskauskas and drummer James Muschler. "His World Unheard," in moving from a stark piano-lead introduction to a steady groove, transitioning into an open and dreamy pasture, arriving in an up-tempo swing venue, and eventually resolving to tranquility, is the perfect example of how far this rhythm duo can take things in one song. In other places, they conjure up drum'n'bass-derived beats and Latin-leaning ideas ("Of Time"), deal with modern jazz-funk ("Columbus"), establish some churning rhythmic rubble ("When You Dream"), and simply ride the crest of gleeful and creative compositions, no matter where the music may go.

The two-horn frontline of trumpeter Christoph Siegrist and alto saxophonist Joshua Kwassman is a study in contrasts. Siegrist comes off as the man with a thousand faces as he presents different portraits of his playing throughout the album. There is a hesitant quality as his solo takes shape on the title track, but a brighter and more resilient Siegrist is on hand for "First Flight." The processed sounds and attitudes of "Blue World" are like Marcus Miller-produced Miles with a touch of his '70s spunk. "Mood," on the other hand, with its blue trumpet colors, is the essence of cool and noir-ish atmosphere. Kwassman presents a more unified sound across the album, but he can also cover plenty of ground in how he uses that sound. His disarming voyage on "Green Traveler" and his oblique excursions on "Columbus" are two very different, but equally intriguing, performances.

Pianist Fabian Ortiz—present on all but two tracks, where he yields the piano chair to Glenn Zaleski—is often left to set the mood as the songs begin, or at key transitional moments. His reflective musings and sparkling ideas conjure images of the dawn of a new day on "When You Dream (Intro)" and "Green Traveler," but he also offers rhythmic stability and even manages to throw in the unexpected, like the momentary Cuban flash around the 3:20 mark on "Of Time." While each man plays an important role here, the cohesive group sound that develops across these nine tracks is the real key to the magic on When You Dream.

Track Listing: First Flight; Columbus; When You Dream; Green Traveler; Of Time; His World Unheard; Blue World; Mood.

Personnel: Christoph Siegrist: trumpet; Joshua Kwassman: alto saxophone; Fabian Ortiz: piano (1, 3, 4, 6-9); Peter Yuskauskas: bass; James Muschler: drums; Glenn Zaleski: piano (2, 5).

Title: When You Dream | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Self Produced


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