Ye Olde, the self-titled debut of Jacob Garchik's latest ensemble, has been described by the eclectic trombonistwho serves as in-house arranger for the Kronos Quartet, co-leads the Mexican brass band Banda de los Muertos, and is responsible for the Atheist Gospel Trombone Choirthusly: "Imagine a 2015 cover of the soundtrack to a 1970's remake of a 1930's movie about the Middle Ages." Truth be told, Garchik's summarization is perfect; though nostalgic, this diverse effort (based on a whimsical tale involving mythical characters and dubious architecture told in rhyming couplets) is rooted in arcane subgenres favored by obsessive connoisseurs, rather than casual mainstream listeners.
This is not to suggest Ye Olde's esoteric methodologies are elitistfar from it. In addition to recruiting drummer Vinnie Sperrazza, Garchik's decision to form a band featuring Mary Halvorson, Brandon Seabrook, and Jonathan Goldbergerthree of Brooklyn's most adventurous young guitaristsspeaks volumes about the project's accessibility. Though rococo miniatures like "Stained Glass Transoms Illuminate a Hidden Crypt" and "Crenulated Corbels" certainly evince a bygone baroque air, the bewitching lyricism of "The Lady of Duck Island" and "Post-Modern Revival" sound utterly contemporary, yet strangely familiar, like obscure prog rock B-sides.
Investing Garchik's fetching melodies with bold invention, Seabrook shreds with metallic frenzy on the bluesy fusion of "The Elders of Ocean Pathway" and Goldberger tears into "Post-Modern Revival" with unbridled enthusiasm, while Halvorson imbues "The Battle of Brownstone Bulge" with her singularly oblique fretwork. Garchik reveals himself as a magnanimous leader and a compelling soloist with an expressive dynamic range. Underpinning the proceedings, Sperrazza fuels the amplified frontline with a protean combination of brute force and deft timing.
Following the hypnotic counterpoint of "Refuge in the Ruins of Castle Martense," the date closes with one of the most inspiring finales of recent vintage, the rhapsodic "The Throne Room of Queen Anne," in which Garchik and his trio of avant-guitarists soar majestically over Sperrazza's martial downbeats with heroic fervor. Garchik's brief feudal fanfares and droll song titles confirm the session's fanciful backstory, yet the underlying narrative is ultimately secondary. In fact, Ye Olde easily transcends its fantastical origins, revealing a captivating suite of creative improvised music interpreted by some of Brooklyn's finest.
Track Listing: Jacob Garchik – the Barrel Maker: trombone, alto horn, tenor horn; Brandon Seabrook – the Trickling Stream: guitar; Mary Halvorson – the Guardian of the Rock: guitar; Vinnie Sperrazza – the Merchant of Iron: drums; Jonathan Goldberger- the Mountain of Gold: guitar, baritone guitar.
Personnel: Ye Olde of Flatbush; The Sinister Scheme of Mortise Mansard; A Clue Wrought in Stone; The Lady of Duck Island; and Meanwhile; The Elders of Ocean Pathway; Stained Glass Transoms Illuminate a Hidden Crypt; The Opossum King of Greenwood Forest; Crenulated Corbels; Post-Modern Revival; while Meanwhile; The Battle of Brownstone Bulge; Refuge in the Ruins of Castle Martense; The Throne Room of Queen Anne.
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