Home » Jazz Articles » Extended Analysis » Anatole Muster: Wonderful now

14

Anatole Muster: Wonderful now

By

Sign in to view read count
Anatole Muster: Wonderful now
What do you get when you combine the high-velocity beats of electronica with the virtuosic proficiency of fusion, the pristine sound quality of an ECM label record and the "goes down easy" catchiness of smooth jazz? When composed and performed at the highest level, it sounds like Anatole Muster's album, Wonderful now. This album gets better with repeated listening.

Muster, who is 22 years old, creates nearly every sound on his orchestrations (except for several cameos), composes, writes poetic lyrics and spices the mix with his signature playing on accordion (and custom, MIDI/breath accordion-layout sound controller). When asked if playing jazz accordion is a blessing or a curse, he noted that the instrument does wonders for getting him introduced to leading musicians and for generating curiosity from potential concert goers. "Playing accordion is my click-bait for music promotion," he adds, "but it's just one tool in my bag of instruments and jazz/electronica-related styles."

He has already gotten notice in the jazz world, having performed at a Montreaux festival, being called out in Jamie Cullum's BBC2 radio series and performing sold-out shows at Ronnie Scott's club in London.

Wonderful now is his first full-length album. Until recently, he had accommodated web listening habits solely by streaming singles and releasing an EP, but he feels that longer projects are essential to form an artistic identity and take the audience to another level of appreciation. This philosophy achieves results with Wonderful now, which one might liken to baking a cake: most of the ingredients are well-known but it is the way you mix them that creates something unique. For those who are into jazz as well as electronic, pop and dance sensibilities, Muster delivers a compelling sound that stands apart.

High points among the tracks include: "Dance With Me," which highlights many of the elements in Muster's repertoire. First, there are electronica "hits" over power fusion chords. The bebop-like piano solo and hip-hop drum beat are courtesy of alternative jazz collaborators Telemakus and Mackwood, respectively. At [01:00] the tempo changes on a dime into a more trance-like mood that has been frequency-pitched down a few cents. In the background, brass and pink noise snippets fill out the sonic spectrum. This is Muster at his sound-engineering/production best.

"Auntie Mabel" is an upbeat confection of syncopated hits and catchy melody. Louis Cole, 2024 Grammy nominee for Best Alternative Jazz Album, contributes the drum track. The pair practically dares you to listen, by starting with a voicemail out-take from Cole: "Hey man, I tried to record some drums for this track and they're not very good...I think it's cause I s-u-c-k." He then proceeds to burn the house down with racetrack-velocity fills played on an acoustic kit that sounds like a programmed drum machine.

"Blip Blop" demonstrates how Muster's vocals add another layer to his instrumental palette. Sounding a bit like Jacob Collier, the vocals are mixed back and harmonized, with the lyrics being part-romantic and part-philosophical, e.g. "I wanna be everywhere without moving... until I am the world... but I unravel..." This can be heard by spending some time listening with the fresh synth patches in the background. Muster explained how sound design is a major effort in his compositional process, in which harmony, melody, groove and sounds are refined in parallel instead of sequentially.

"Girl in My Dreams" features a tapping, slapping, ear-opening guitar riff in the intro, courtesy of collaborator ether2006. To be clear, the riff is recorded at true speed and the guitarist is just 17 years old! At [00:22], Muster introduces a classic dancehall patch. It reminds this reviewer of the internet meme from several years back, namely "is the woman's dress you're looking at black and blue or gold and white?" The same effect occurs with Muster's music—look at it from one angle and it is jazz, then shift your view slightly and it is electronica.

If we revisit the earlier baking metaphor, then the album Wonderful now is a sweet 4.5-star "tiramisu." The main thing preventing a 5-star rating is the inclusion of two remix variations of other songs, which while somewhat repetitive nonetheless provide insight into the creative development process and are worth the listen.

Muster is a musician to watch develop. He is equally at home referencing Herbie Hancock's funky Headhunters from the 70s or Michael Brecker's slick Steps Ahead in the 80s as he is his contemporaries.

Even as this album is being formally released, he has recorded tracks for the next project, which will take more of a traditional swing jazz feel in a trio format, still led by accordion. One can hear his live trio work by searching on YouTube for "Anatole Muster Live at Autumn of Music 2022" and playing from [2:12] onward. An upcoming release will feature a Brazilian sound. Meanwhile, Muster is completing his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London. It is hard to predict where he will go from being "wonderful now," but it is bound to be ear-catching.

Track Listing

dance with me; Wonderful now; testing fields; girl in my dreams; jumpin; girl in my dreams (midwest accordion emo); blip blop; Auntie Mabel; liverpool street; blip blop beat.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Wonderful now | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Self Produced


< Previous
Shadow

Comments

Tags


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

Strictly Smokin' & Friends
Strictly Smokin' Big Band
Remembrance
Chick Corea and Bela Fleck
Axes
Andrea Grossi Blend 3 + Jim Black
Art Of Art
Art Pepper

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.