Jan 21 2013
Chad McCullough & Bram Weijters Quartet – “Urban Nightingale”
Following on the success of their 2011 collaboration Imaginary Sketches, trumpeter Chad McCullough and pianist Bram Weijters display with their latest release Urban Nightingale that they are truly a perfect match creatively.
Despite originating from opposite ends of the globe, the two have a symbiotic connection from both a perspective of group interplay and also personal voicing. Illustrated right from the first notes of album-opener “Nightingale,” the duo share an inclination to express smouldering evocative notes with a pensive, deliberate touch. This often creates a sensation of holding one’s breath for just half-a-heartbeat, and enhancing the anticipation of subsequent notes. It’s the quality that makes this recording, and the last, a positive winner.
Your album personnel: Chad McCullough (trumpet, flugelhorn), Bram Weijters (piano, Rhodes), Piet Verbist (bass), and John Bishop (drums).
On Urban Nightingale, this trait is increasingly apparent, as they have upped the dramatic tension more so. For instance, “Residue” is a song of burning coals… unthreatening until you feel the heat, and “Tired and Dizzy” slowly raises the temperature, imperceptibly at first, but then experienced all at once. “Phyrgian” and “Flow” are less subtle than the other album tracks, upping tempo and volume, yet without sacrificing the meditative qualities that make their music so captivating.
But despite the preponderance of up-tempo pieces on the current recording, this quartet’s bread and butter are the ruminative cloudy-day tunes that give the impression of falling rain even when the sun is shining bright. “Buildings in a Dark City” has a contemplative stillness that can’t be broken. Album-closer “Downtime” is a melancholy tune with pop-music tinged melody that drifts serenely from first note to last. “Residue” has a heavy heart that struggles to maintain a wide smile.
An impressive follow-up to an impressive initial release. Looking forward to more of this.
Released on the Origin Arts label.
Jazz from the Seattle, Washington and Antwerp, Sweden scenes.
Cover photograph by Greg Nicholas, with John Bishop doing layouts & design.
You can stream the entire album, and purchase it, at the artist’s bandcamp page.
January 21, 2013 @ 10:58 pm
Urban Nightingale, by the way, was one of my selections for best of 2012. Thanks for reviewing it.
January 22, 2013 @ 6:41 am
There were so many albums that didn’t make my Best of 2012 list that just left me shaking my head at disbelief that I couldn’t find a slot for them. 2012 was yet another strong year for new jazz releases, and the war of attrition meant some worthy recordings had to get left off. I can’t find anything wrong with putting Urban Nightingale on a Best Of list. There may come a day, after many more listenings, that I regret not having it on mine.