While the cold chill of winter seems to jump out of the cover of composer/arranger Drew Paralic's EP-length ode to the snowy season, the music contained within isn't really icy fare. Paralic puts together a brief set of wintry originals that are as inviting as a fire place on a late December evening.
The Brooklyn-born composer doesn't play a lick of music on this 26-minute recording, but he retains top billing. He earns it by bringing a sense of humanity and warmth into play, while making music that's easy on the ears. Paralic places his pieces in the hands of seven musicians who work in various combinations during this short trip.
Paralic bookends the album with singer-centric songs that are alternately connected to ("My Wintertime Sky") and removed from ("How Bill's Heart Sings") the theme at hand. These vocal numbers don't tend to have the same charm factor as the instrumentals, and singer Laura Kenyon doesn't really seem to fit into the scenery very well, but they help to show the bigger picture when it comes to Paralic's compositional palette.
The four instrumental tunes that make up the core of this album prove to be easier to love. "Down In Soho" enters and departs the world with Bennett Paster's light-as-snow piano, but lives the bulk of its existence as a relaxed swinger with bluesy undercurrents. David Pearl 's mellow piano and Mike McGinnis's clarinet give "(On The Occasion Of) Wet Snow" a gentle and breezy quality, but they have some swing in their stride on "Finally 2001." "Steps" gives pianist James Newman a chance to play all by his lonesome, with swagger and barroom panache emanating from his fingers.
Paralic's compositional credo seems to be catchall accessibility over self-serving complexity and this philosophy serves him just fine during this appetizer of an album.
Track Listing: My Wintertime Sky; Down In Soho; (On The Occasion Of) Wet Snow; Steps; Finally 2001; How Bill's Heart Sings.
Personnel: Elias Bailey: bass; Lara Kenyon: vocals (1, 6); Mike McGinnis: tenos saxophone, clarinet; James Newman: piano (4); Bennett Paster: piano (2); David Pearl: piano (1, 3, 5, 6); Vinnie Sperrazza: drums.