There's quite the Metheny influence to Story City, from the Chautaugua period to Wichita Falls to later work, but the group's sound is sax dominated and more fusion-rock than Pat was (or Lyle or Paul), especially in the change-ups. Steve Rodby, a Metheny mainstay, is a co-producer, so he took a kindredly reversed interest in the group. Story City is an eight piece, and thus there's always a rich texture atop subtle backgrounds…as well as a sense of play and humor here and there, as in the wryly titled Fitzwright Inn, with its Steps Ahead-ish tempo.
Add in some Crusaders, a bit of Passport, some Spyrogyra, and you're a little closer to the composite nature of the ensemble, which isn't exactly incognizant of it's genre's history, especially of the last few decades, when Fattburger, Yellowjackets, and others were around. One of three of my favorite cuts is the title track, Time and Materials, which changes direction and architecture with fair frequency, hitting a range of environments. The 10:42 Truth to Power follows more of a slow languid course, ambient, mellow, and subtle until it hits its more energetic abstruse section (that Wichita Falls thing) and widens to the skies.
I suppose the comment could be rendered that Time and Materials is a trifle over-produced, but there's a time and place for that, and this is one of them. With a weakness for that realm when it arose in Hiroshima, Shakatak, Cassiopeia, and other fusion ensembles back in the day, I developed a taste for the application, and Story City straddles the two worlds, of imagination and presentation within a market niche. Time works not only towards the success of the effort but also the aesthetic upleveling of the audience, introducing it to thought processes well beyond the mundanities of slick radio venues dedicated to lite jazz and such. With Chuck Mangione, George Benson, Spyrogyra, and even Metheny, it worked well, and I think the time has come to try the gambit again. Whether it will be successful remains to be seen, but you certainly can't fault the music here for the risk.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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