Danny Meyer, Mark Clifford & Colin Stranahan – “Color of the Year”


Color of the Year - "Color of the Year"It’s the way this trio works a small pocket of sound, revealing interesting facets through slight shifts in expression that renders Color of the Year a winning album.  The sax-vibes-drums trio of Danny Meyer, Mark Clifford and Colin Stranahan offer up an album of tenuous serenity, which they will occasionally mar and crack and pull at the seams… all with the intention of illustrating just how elastic the concept of serenity truly is.  Opening track “First Rain” is their baseline.  Meyer’s peaceful saxophone phrasings, the shimmering glow of Clifford’s vibraphone accompaniment, the comforting tap and rattle of Stranahan’s drumwork… all elements that will go through a series of permutations, and yet the trio will always remain in that pocket of tenuous serenity.

The catchy groove of “Day Job” has Meyer giving his sax a raised voice before reining it in for the ballad of “Twos.”  Stranahan’s brushes drift across its path, creating a crossroads of cadence.  But even love songs can have rough edges, and the trio ends the song with a thrash and a crash.  Peaceful saxophone accompaniment hovers just above the spoken word of child voices on “Everything is a Mirror” and drums echo the voices’ footfalls.  On “Calla,” both sax and drums grow more soulful for the lullaby of “Calla.”

The sequences of punchy notes matching wits with a staggered tempo on “Children” veers into post-bop territory, and provides Clifford an opportunity for a nifty transformation from filling in the gaps to shaping the terrain to driving the tune forward to its conclusion.  This, along with his melodic-percussive balancing act on “Day Job” are the fireworks of Clifford’s contribution to the album, which may, in fact, be exceeded by the icy brilliance resulting from the minimalist approach he applies to other album tracks.

Album finale “You Will All Go Shopping” is an encapsulation of everything that has come before.  Opening up with a sound that mirrors the introduction of “First Rain,” the trio slowly transitions from a tranquil ambiance to a flirtation with a groove, which it shakes free of to thrash and roar before returning back to its opening serenity, as if nothing had changed and they’d never left the spot they first were standing.  A fitting end to very enjoyable recording.

Your album personnel:  Danny Meyer (tenor sax), Mark Clifford (vibes), and Colin Stranahan (drums).

Note:  There is, actually, a bonus track at the end, taken from a live performance.  Judged on its own merits, it’s a nice enough track, but as part of the album’s entirety, in the interests of cohesion, it’s just as well to leave it off.  “First Rain” and “You Will All Go Shopping” make excellent bookends for this recording.

This album is Self-Produced.

Nifty album cover photo of Colorado high country by Danny Meyer.

Jazz from the Brooklyn and Oakland (CA) scenes, though all three grew up together in Denver, Colorado.

Available at:  eMusic | Bandcamp | Amazon CD | Amazon MP3