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: Is This the Time?, Bully on the Block, Will It Matter Whe We Were?, The Tourist, When the Storm Comes, Show Me, Black Hole Sun, Beyond the Bliss, Spun Me Shaky, When I Fall in Love, Isolation

Personnel: Hillary Maroon--voice; Benny lackner--keyboards; Derek Nievergelt--accoustic bass; Lance Carter-- drums. With special guests: Marc Ribot--guitar; Nate Wooley--trumpet; Alex Hamlin--alto sax;

Title: Who the Sky Betrays | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Head Fulla Brains


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read I Believe In You CD/LP/Track Review I Believe In You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Morning Sun CD/LP/Track Review Morning Sun
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 18, 2017
Read The Conscience CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Harlem CD/LP/Track Review Harlem
by James Nadal
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Open Book CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Stolen Moments CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 17, 2017
Read "Potsdamer Platz" CD/LP/Track Review Potsdamer Platz
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: February 3, 2017
Read "Magia" CD/LP/Track Review Magia
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 6, 2016
Read "Currents 0" CD/LP/Track Review Currents 0
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "Mannequins" CD/LP/Track Review Mannequins
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: June 9, 2017
Read "The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door" CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Open Air" CD/LP/Track Review Open Air
by John Kelman
Published: June 2, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.