Jun 12 2016
Let’s just get right to it. “Jeannine’s Joy,” the first track on Shoebox View, has a vague World Jazz sound not too far removed from the trailblazing Oregon ensemble. It has some electronic harmonics and new age-y frills that, unfortunately, take the bite out of a promising line of melodic development. And “It’s Not Safe” wades even deeper into the insubstantial with a halfhearted groove. It’s meant to be upbeat and happy, but it comes off as the anthem for party animals who need to take the night off and just chill on the sofa, dude.
Am I being a bit harsh? Yeah, perhaps, perhaps not. But blunt honesty regarding the two opening tracks proves the sincerity of my adoration of everything that comes after. And if my harsh words succeed in keeping you around until those first two tracks are in the rear view mirror, well, then I’ve managed to guide you to the tune “Casa de Aves”… a song that signals the unofficial start to the seriously captivating album from Naomi Moon Siegel.
It begins with some voice sampling and electronic manipulation and keyboard work that sets a tone of ambient, but nervous energy. It’s tension right out of the gate, delivered with just the slightest whisper. It’s a sound not that far removed from some of Wayne Horvitz’s early jazz-electronica works with his ensemble The President. The body of the song has a stealthy cadence, one that moves along fluidly but is more surge than flow. It keeps the embers of tension burning, and it enhances some beautiful melodic sighs and yawns… a beauty bolstered by the harmonic depth of Siegel’s trombone meshed with the alto sax of Ivan Arteaga.
While there may be no cause & effect between the two, considering Horvitz’s creative influence on Siegel’s home turf of the Pacific Northwest, it’s never a reach to remark upon the interconnectivity of highly creative artists within the same geographic zone of influence. And it would be silly not to point out, by the way, that Horvitz sits in on organ, piano and Wurlitzer for this recording. It’s also important to point out that this recording is clearly Siegel’s own vision. Though Siegel and Horvitz use many of the same ingredients, Shoebox View is a recipe that doesn’t mirror anything in the Horvitz catalog.
And those languorous sighs and yawns of melody? That’s something that brilliantly marks this record, even as Siegel shepherds it through a series of slight but resonant transformations.
The first of those transformations is how the brushwork of drummer Eric Eagle and acoustic guitar of Sean Woolstenhulme bring the country to the modern jazz on “Ukelady,” and how that rustic back porch serenity perfectly marries with Siegel’s slow, unhurried melody… a breeze that never ends and, good, because nobody wants it to. Ultimately, that wish works out for everybody, because “Punta Uva” breathes the same air as its predecessor, and the trombone and banjo of Siegel and Woolstenhulme paint the imagery of fireflies floating in space beneath a full moon.
“Ever Yes” gets the pulse rate up a bit, but even when Siegel booms out the melody, it’s delivered with a slow, unhurried gait, and that contrast between a rising intensity and a calm patience is one of this album’s most intoxicating qualities. And as if proving that this equation isn’t a one-shot deal, “Brown, Grey, Orange, Green” runs right along with it. On the other hand, “Electric Flower” begins in a state of repose, then gradually rises up before breaking into a gallop.
Siegel ends the album with two lullabies. “Mama Sanchaba” and “Mañana, Mañana” keep to the same radiant serenity, the same tranquil melodies that settled in so peacefully over everything. It’s a nice note of finality to this dreamy recording.
I am positively addicted to this album.
Your album personnel: Naomi Moon Siegel (trombone, piano, ukulele, keyboards), Sean Woolstenhulme (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo), Wayne Horvitz (organ, piano, Wurlitzer), Eric Eagle (drums, percussion) and guests: Keith Lowe (upright bass), Alex Guy (viola), Ivan Arteaga (alto sax), Michael Coleman (Wurlitzer, synthesizers), Thione Diop (percussion), Jefferson Rose (electric bass), Andrew Vait (synthesizers), Jacques Willis (beat production), Greg Sinibaldi (baritone sax) and Steve O’Brien (trumpet).
This album is Self-Produced.
Listen to more album tracks on the artist’s Bandcamp page.
Jazz from the Seattle, Washington scene.