The dynamic and inventive brass quartet The Westerlies explores an eclectic array of pieces on its third release, the mesmerizing Wherein Lies the Good
. Consisting of four jazz-leaning horn players, the ensemble, in addition to interpreting delightful originals, delves into the modern classical, art-rock and folk repertoires.
The album opens with trombonist Andy Clausen
's mellifluous "Robert Henry." A hypnotic and effervescent tune that Clausen wrote for his nephew, it flows from one member to another with shimmering lines and short crisp phrases.
Other in-band contributions include trombonist Willem De Koch
's whimsical "Chickendog and Woodylocks" and trumpeter Riley Mulherkar
three part "Entropy." The former is a crystalline tune with sharp edged trumpets and languid trombones leading to witty dialogues. On the latter, dramatic exchanges among the musicians form engaging refrains over growling trombones The interplay evolves into a four way conversation that leads to a muted trumpet solo with a boppish flavor. Around this coalesce the other individual voices enhancing the overall cinematic sense.
The newest member of the group, trumpeter Chloe Rowlands
, penned the tribute to Seattle area teacher and trumpet player Laurie Frink. Opening with somber trombone notes, the emotive homage has an understated melancholy that does not take away from its celebratory nature.
The title track is the centerpiece of the recording. It opens with exuberant, high-blown notes and goes through several dramatic movements. From a languid, melancholic, collective performance that includes a muted trumpet to more playful, up-tempo phrases the quartet interprets genre-defying songwriter and composer Robin Holcomb
's work with elegance. Originally written for solo piano, it is a fusion of various Americana inspired sounds. One of the later movements is distinctly folkish, reminiscent of composer Aaron Copeland's "Appalachian Spring."
In addition to being a cohesive group of virtuoso musicians, The Westerlies is an innovative and versatile collective that has mastered several styles. Hence their artistic melange is far from being superficial. Wherein Lies the Good
should appeal to purists of every ilk as well as lovers of good music everywhere.
Robert Henry; In the Mornin'; Weeping Mary; Wherein Lies the Good; Golden Gate Gospel Train; Travelin'
Shoes; Remember Me; Born Ten Thousand Years Ago; Do Unto Others; The Kiss; From the Very First Time;
Laurie; Eli; Chickendog and Woodylocks; Memories; Entropy, Pt. 1; Entropy, Pt. 2; Entropy, Pt. 3.