Recommended: Catfish – “Restraint”


Catfish - "Restraint"The winning quality of Restraint is its sense of permanence, of possessing the kind of expressions that remain lodged in the memory to where the album’s concluding note signals not an end, only the beginning of anticipation for when it’s time to press play all over again.  And during that interval, the music lingers.

The ensemble Catfish blends modern jazz, contemporary classical and indie pop… an approach that is becoming more and more prevalent on the modern jazz landscape.  It’s a nice trend and it leads to some very pretty and very compelling moments… but the results don’t always stick around for very long.  The music of Restraint, at times, is quite ephemeral, but the building crescendos and the proud, bold pronouncements of melody at a song’s peak, definitively stated and repeated with patience and certainty, this leaves its imprint on the ear.  This is music with staying power.

A device the ensemble utilizes with unqualified success is by leading in with eddies and pools of improvisation, providing just the barest sense of shape and form before the melody suddenly shines through, loud, clear and full of warmth and thick lines easy to wrap up and embrace.  “||Addiction||” does this swimmingly, as does “The Lovers of Roissy.”  The equation is flipped on its head with “The Sea Makes the Rules,” but its effect is no less profound.

Sometimes the transitions from vague formlessness to huge presence happen within the duration of a song and sometimes Catfish effects the change in song bundles of two.  “Wistaria Dr. 4AM” is all nervous energy and leads sweetly into the gracefully flowing melody of “Some Things Are Worth Fighting For.”  And “Arch Cape” is a warm infusion of thick harmonies and a melody that stretches out for miles, which makes the scattered pieces of the subsequent “{{Mothh}}” that much more striking upon its arrival.

It’s an absolutely gorgeous album that offers up some stunning moments.

Your album personnel:  Joe Cunningham (tenor sax, percussion, piano, Rhodes, organ), Dan Duval (guitar, piano), Ken Ollis (drums) and guests: Lee Elderton (soprano sax, clarinet), Kyleen King (viola), Patty King (violin), Jeff Baxter (piano), Ben Kates (alto sax), Jon Shaw (bass) and Reed Wallsmith (alto sax).

Released on PJCE.

Listen to more of the album at the label’s Bandcamp page.

Music from the Portland, Oregon scene.

Available at: Bandcamp | eMusic | Amazon