Mellufluous fidelity to standards with abstract improv subtly and not-so-subtly weaving its way here, there, and everywhere is the raison d-etre for this CD by a triad of classy younger bravos being hailed by daunting voices. No less a lion than Joshua Redman, son of the legendary Dewey (one of my all-time faves) has praised Will Vinson, OWL's saxist, up one side and down the other; Kurt Rosenwinkel cites the ensemble's most youhful element, guitarist Lage Lund, as THE cat to watch now and in coming days; and Jeff 'Tain' Watts is a big big fan of bassist Orlando le Fleming. They're not the only ones, however. Critics and newspapers from coast to coast are exhausting thesauruses praising the band. The reasons are not hard to discern.
Start with the pontillistic Hallow, a haunting ballad written by the band but straight out of Paul Winter's high conversion period and its spawn: the Oregon ensemble. A marvel of free, neoclassical, and threnodic structures, it's literally breathtaking, spellbinding, and in the same hushed, careful, refined, chamber voice used throughout the disc. My heart stopped for a few minutes when I considered what an entire CD of exactly that strain would be like, head swimming, nerves electrified…until my doctor called, said "Hey! Cut it out! Humans aren't made to do that kinda thing! Who d'ya think you are?" and urged me to move on to the Pat Martino-esque Yesterdays.
Le Fleming stays largely in the background, maintaining the subtler bulk of the moody wispy airs pervading the album, but when he steps up for solos, you know he's there. Lude and Vinson work between engaged interaction and offsetting one another in complex comps and underpinnings. Churchgoing, another cut composed by the Trio is again very abstract, and I have to regard these baddest actors as neoclassicalists when all's said and done because the interspersion of approaches and attenuations is way beyond even jazz norms. Nonethless, I hear my damned doc grinding his teeth in the distance, so I move on to another of the classic cuts, Sweet and Lovely, and drink in the perfect mid-ground between respect and the wont to tear it finessily to pieces, both of which are employed with infinite aplomb.
And those two adjectives just about sum up the band, unearthing that intense creativity which takes a hallowed composition and turns it inside out while polishing the surface to a shining amber luster…but still……if they should ever go it alone, leave the Great American Songbook and Jazz Olympias behind and concentrate solely on personal visions, God help us 'cause there won't be a single unexploded brain cell left between any two critics in the country.
And I'll be first in line for the meltdown.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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