Benje Daneman – “Estelle’s Farewell Gift”


Benje Daneman - "Estelle's Farewell Gift"These are simple songs.

Three musicians, four songs, an intimate recording.

Trumpet, sax, and piano.  Strands of bright melodies like lights on a Christmas tree.  Melancholic statements shot through with streaks of warm harmony.  Compositions that contrast a dreamy presence with a bracing vulnerability.

This is quiet music for quiet moments.  It is music that breathes sadness even as it remains hopeful.  This is music for late night bars where all the dreams are cracked, but still worth fighting for.  Simple songs that open doors to complex reactions, sometimes on the cusp of something quite breathtaking.

Your album personnel:  Benje Daneman (trumpet, flugelhorn), Andrew Rathbun (tenor sax), Jeremy Siskind (piano), and guest:  Ashley Gonzalez Daneman (vocals).

Opening track “Sun Shadows” leads with melody right out of the gate.  The languid opening statement is followed by punchy phrases while keeping a casual stroll.  The presence of the melody is always present, even if just barely… like fading contrails of an airplane that has flown over the horizon.  Except that, in this instance, the trio ends with a final restatement of that melody.

“Floating On” brings Ashley Daneman in for a guest vocal.  The airy brightness of her voice brings a vibrancy to the album and a cheerfulness that adds an essential bit of lift to an album that might’ve nosedived into some exquisite, but ultimately oppressive despondency.  Rathburn’s sax and Daneman’s trumpet brighten noticeably in response to her tone.  And even after she drops off after this one song, it remains as an integral counterbalance to the lovely moodiness of the final two album tracks.

“To Lay Down One’s Life” begins with intoxicating melodic statements that threaten to drift off but suddenly coalesce into something even stronger.  The tune suddenly off-roads it with a free form section highlighted by Siskind’s somersaulting-down-stairs piano lines, and where Daneman’s vocals provided some needed warmth, Siskind’s piano emits some necessary heat.  Rathburn matches the rising temperature on sax.  The trio eventually return to whence they began, again, to the melody.  Of the four album tracks, it’s easily the most expansive.  Coming back home to the melody brings a clear focus to the distance traveled from the song’s first note to last.

Album ends with the title track.  Daneman’s trumpet just drifts atop Siskind’s piano’s sea of tranquility, and Rathbun’s sax enters with the unhurried ease of a setting sun.

A lovely ending to a lovely album.

The album is Self-Produced.

Jazz from the Kalamazoo, Michigan scene.

You can stream the entire album, and purchase it, at the artist’s bandcamp page.  Both digital album and CD format are available there.

Available at eMusic.  Available at Amazon: CD