Recommended: Andy Clausen – “Shutter”


andy clausen shutterThis album connects with me from any number of angles.  There’s the project theme:  Trombonist Andy Clausen put together the multi-media project Shutter as a way to present the imagery of his travels from 2012 through 2013.  How he captures those images is four-fold.  First, he views them personally.  This is something we, as listeners, can only experience indirectly through later stages of the process.  Second, he takes a photo of the scene with an old-school a 1970s Nikkormat FT 35mm camera.  And it’s these photos that he uses later as inspiration when, three, he begins constructing compositions based not just on what he sees in the photograph, but also from what he sees in his memory of that very first time he viewed the scene, before he’d even decided to get out the camera and snap a photo.  The photograph is going to differ from that first viewing and the memory is going to differ from that first viewing and the way he views the scene in the photograph is going to be different than how he viewed it via the camera lens… and all of the vagaries of memory and interpretation get nicely muddled and folded into and over itself, and that leads to the fourth stage of the image capture… how it’s captured by the ensemble as they interpret the compositions inspired by the photos and then enhancing the picture with improvisation and more inspiration of their own.

Visually, the scenery changes from photograph to photograph.  A horizon shot of a nighttime Seattle skyline is part of the same album as old barns framed by pastoral countryside, the curious personality of architectural oddities, the greenery of looming forests, the obliteration of red rock canyons, and the vastness of the wide blue ocean.  And reflecting how personal perspective bundles up diverse imagery into a singular vision, the music of Shutter remains within the same pocket, a consistency of tone and temperance that provides this strange and beautiful music an appealing cohesiveness.

There’s the skittering tails of melody on “High Tide” that coalesce into mighty swells of harmony.  “QM2” switches between a whimsical prancing cadence and languorous extended yawns of melody.  The sing-song sway of “New Berlin, New York” emits a tiny bit of uncontainable enthusiasm, a little bit of bold, proud posture.  “Hog Island / Walk The Plank” begins as a solemn sunrise hymn, ends as a simple folk tune sung out to the nighttime creatures coming to life at the end of a long day.  “The Only View” brings together grumbling bursts of dissonance and thick brushstrokes of melody.  And all of it comes together with the logical duality of shadow and light.

And that the project is presented in multi-media format, it engages the senses from more than one direction, both literally and conceptually.  The music can stand alone on its own merits or can be accompanied with a viewing of the photographs or as live performance.

And it would be inexcusable for me to not mention that this album is yet another example of the impact both Bill Frisell and Wayne Horvitz have had on the Pacific Northwest scene.  The 1996 Frisell recording Quartet was notable for its stunning yet unconventional beauty as well as its odd instrumentation of electric guitar & effects, trombone, trumpet, violin and tuba.  It was a concoction that was singular in the extreme, and it’s not a sound I’ve heard captured quite so fully as Clausen’s ensemble does on Shutter.  It’s a impressive thing to walk territory so rarely traveled, but to then stake out a patch of turf for his own singular vision is truly remarkable.

A fascinating album.

Your album personnel:  Andy Clausen (trombone), Riley Mulherkar (trumpet), Mitch Lyon (cello), Gregg Belisle-Chi (guitar) and Gregory Uhlmann (guitar).

Check out the artist site page dedicated to this project, which includes the photos that inspired the compositions as well as the opportunity to listen to more album tracks (LINK).

Released on Table & Chairs Music.

Jazz from the Seattle, WA scene.

Available at:  Bandcamp