119

Maroon: Who the Sky Betrays

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Maroon: Who the Sky Betrays In a world populated with a plethora of female jazz singers whose focus is to interpret, reinterpret and interpret, yet again, the Great American Songbook, it is refreshing to hear Maroon, whose latest disk, Who the Sky Betrays combines jazz improvisation, a strong pop sensibility and contemporary grooves into a wholly unique experience.

The influences here are clear: take a dash of M-BASE ("When the Storm Comes"), a pinch of ambient (Radiohead's "The Tourist"), a taste of modern jazz balladry ("Show Me") and a hint of hip-hop ("Bully on the Block"); singer Hillary Moon and her supporting cast blend these diverse influences into something that could only come from the urban sprawl of New York City.

The group takes the traditional piano trio and refashions it into a completely contemporary sound. With a subtle inclusion of electronics a la E.S.T., and a sometimes aggressive style that owes something to The Bad Plus, Maroon sounds more like a pop band with an improvisational sensibility than a jazz group working in the other direction.

Maroon's lyrics lean towards the political, with "Bully on the Block" fairly directly assessing the Bush administration's foreign policy; "Beyond the Bliss" questions the future after a brief meeting; "Is This the Time?" considers how to live in these troubled times.

Maroon, pianist Benny Lackner, bassist Derek Nievergelt and drummer Lance Carter are joined on five tracks by the inimitable Marc Ribot, whose guitar ranges from a textural backdrop on "The Tourist" to jagged and angular on "Is This the Time?" Nate Wooley and Alex Hamlin contribute a dissonant horn section to "When the Storm Comes" and "Beyond the Bliss."

Maroon is able to put a new spin on things, even over-worked material like "When I Fall in Love." The treatment is harmonically open, recalling Miles' '60s quintet in its avoidance of the obvious. Arrangements of Soundgarden, John Lennon and Chrissie Hynde material reveal the breadth of the group's musical influences and knowledge.

Hillary Maroon's voice whispers and growls, rasps and soars. Like the rest of the group, she is less concerned with displaying her own considerable chops and more interested in creating a collective sound that is distinctive in its reassessment of the languages that form its roots. Who the Sky Betrays is an important release of contemporary pop with a strong jazz sensibility, with a crossover appeal that deserves to be heard by fans of both genres.


Track Listing: 1. Is This the Time?; 2. Bully on the Block; 3. Will It Matter Who We Were?; 4. The Tourist; 5. When the Storm Comes; 6. Show Me; 7. Black Hole Sun; 8. Beyond the Bliss; 9. Spun Me Shakey; 10. When I Fall in Love; 11. Isolation

Personnel: Hillary Maroon (vocals), Benny Lackner (piano, rhodes piano, nord lead 2, nord electro, hohner pianet), Derek Nievergelt (acoustic bass), Lance Carter (drums). Guests: Marc Ribot (guitar on 1, 4, 5, 8, 11), Nate Wooley (trumpet on 1, 5, 8, 10), Alex Hamlin (alto sax on 1, 5, 8).

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Head Fulla Brains | Style: Beyond Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "A Handful Of Songs" CD/LP/Track Review A Handful Of Songs
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2016
Read "R Train On The D Line" CD/LP/Track Review R Train On The D Line
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 22, 2016
Read "Les Deux Versants Se Regardent" CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Tierra" CD/LP/Track Review Tierra
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: July 15, 2016
Read "The Picasso Zone" CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Innri" CD/LP/Track Review Innri
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 4, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!