THE SILENCE BETWEEN PHRASES
With a greater emphasis on live recording and soloing, the mostly instrumental new album uses jazz as it’s core blueprint. But this is jazz in the digital-era, beginning and ending with the computer in the actual production but always incorporating live recording as the foundation for the compositions and their ingredients.
The Silence Between Phrases organically takes the listener on a musical journey odyssey -- one best listened to from beginning to end, as all good albums should be. In an era of byte-sized servings, a deeper and more involved album is most welcome.
Here is a track-by-track breakdown:
Cloud Forest is a short introduction that immediately announces it’s musical intentions and heralds the diversity of the new record. A latin rhythm track and Polynesian guitar form the undercurrent to a recurring piano motif, blending effortlessy with an electro synth that reminds the listener that this is still an electronic-based production. Warm congas and flute add to the mix, a taste of what’s to come on the tracks to follow.
Things kick into high gear with the lead single, Promise, where singer Sharon Musgrave’s repeated vocal refrain brings home the beauty of the simple lyrical sentiment. A mostly straight-ahead jazz track but with a modern and dancefloor-friendly sound, a truly gorgeous and summery vibe runs throughout a track, one that reflects the current nu-jazz or jazz dancesound that is so popular in so many clubs across Europe.
Further exploring the traditional jazz element, Hymn For Tunisia is arguably the most ambitious song on the album. At almost 10 minutes in length, it’s an homage to one of the producers hero’s: Lonnie Liston Smith. It takes the deceptively simple musical motif that maintains the spine of the song and branches out in every direction, offering ample soloing time for saxaphone, flute, and trombone while the bass, piano, and drums keep things tasteful and on the mark.
The Mumakil takes it’s name from reknowned author J.R.R
Tolkein’s mythical beasts, brought from the south to wage war against the forces of men in his classic ‘Lord Of The Rings’ trilogy. Bringing the album’s more cinematic inclinations to the fore, it’s all lumbering drums and stabbing brass as it crashes through your speakers with the weight and muscle of a classic movie score. This is the sound of musical boundaries being shattered.
Taking a full 180 degree turn in cinematic inspiration, West End Satori owes much to the blaxploitation sound of the 70’s. Funky bass, snapping drums, blazing horns are all present and accounted for. The organ grooves and the clavi bounces, the flute wiggles and the congas rumble. It’s the kind of classic arrangement we’d have heard back in the day from film score composers like Quincy Jones or Dennis Coffey, but updated for the new decade.
The track El Puma, one of only two tracks on the album culled from the run of EP’s in 2009, keeps the funk flowing and continues the blaxploitation homage. ‘The Puma’ is a fictional character created by Afternoons In Stereo, he first appeared on 2006’s ‘Leaves Of Brass’. He represents a sort of urban badass circa 1973, all big collars and serious dance moves. Here, he gets a latin breakbeat reinvention that would be quite at home at a Spanish Harlem street party.
Party At Mimi And Dick’s, originally from 2009’s Kraak House EP, takes the party from the crowded streets of El Barrio to the shag-carpeted hillside pied-et-terres of late 70’s Monaco. While still deeply funky, the sound explores more disco and jazz-fusion as the 7+ minute track winds it’s way among the party guests. Clarinet and harp bring a dreamlike element to the sound, the extended saxaphone and flute solo’s provide a certain savoir-faire as we move away from the party and to somewhere more ... private.
Many of the tracks on the album are a deliberate and specific homage to a certain era or artist, but perhaps none more so than The Art Of Dolby. A tribute to seminal electronic music icons Thomas Dolby and The Art Of Noise, the track references the 80’s -- a decade infatuated with synthesizers. A ballad at heart, the track builds slowly as layers of synth pads gingerly stretch over ambient electric piano. And what would an 80’s ballad be without a cheesy sax solo?
Written and produced just a week before the album’s cut-off date, Amalfi Coast returns to the jazz template that defines so much of the record’s character. A light bossa beat and some soft percussion underscore a breezy ballad with extended solo’s on guitar, saxaphone, and rhodes keyboard. The track calls to mind the scenic drive for which it’s named, right down to the gentle surf and the seagulls that beckon to the sun-kissed ocean.
The album closes, appropriately, with Outro -- a sexy downtempo number that is, in many ways, designed as a bookend to the opening track. Soft strings and french horn flow overtop of jazzy guitar, and the harp makes a welcome and understated reappearance. A musical motif interjects now and again to answer the question, “Is there any relation between the english language and your trumpet?”.
Soon the song fades, and with it the album concludes on a positive note.
1. CLOUD FOREST
3. HYMN FOR TUNISIA
4. THE MUMAKIL
5. WEST END SATORI
6. EL PUMA
7. PARTY AT MIMI AND DICK’S
8. THE ART OF DOLBY
9. AMALFI COAST