Jan 10 2015
What makes Beveled a winning album is the way in which the James Davis’ Beveled ensemble shifts between introspective passages of thick harmonies and lively, extroverted sections where the soloists carry on one interesting monologue after the other. Comprised of two flugelhorns, two bass clarinets, and a drum and bass duo, it’s an arrangement that favors tone over texture, density over diversity. The sextet primarily exist in one of the two states of solemn contemplation and brisk animation, and there’s a comforting predictability to it, and it lends well to those arresting transitory moments between the two states.
The two-part “Inward Gaze” is the immediate example of how well Davis maps out this plan of action. Even as the ensemble switches between a hymn and a holler, they maintain a warmth and grace whose origins could be traced to either church or concert hall. Back-to-back tracks “Beveled” and “Flou” are a pairing of the enveloping comfort of shadows and the joyful dancing of sunlight beams. And the pair of tracks “Chimes” and “Impending Doom” show how the ensemble can toy with tempo in this format while sticking to basic formula of driving in only two gears.
Some seriously gorgeous moments on this album, and a thoughtfulness to the presentation that really adds to the level of engagement.
Your album personnel: James Davis (flugelhorn), Chad McCullough (flugelhorn), Michael Salter (bass clarinet), Anna Najoom (bass clarinet), Daniel Thatcher (double bass) and Juan Pastor (drums).
Released on Ears & Eyes Records.
Jazz from the Chicago scene.