Recommended: Harvey Valdes – “PointCounterPoint”


There’s nothing wrong with an album getting right in a listener’s face with ceaseless waves of intensity.  Under the right circumstances, it can be pretty thrilling.  Under the best circumstances, it’s seriously fun.  What separates the visceral impact of the former from the boundless joy of the latter is the substantive depth of the music’s personality.  The measure of the success of PointCounterPoint is how the trio of guitarist Harvey Valdes, violinist Sana Nagano and drummer Joe Hertenstein detail out precise character traits even as they set everything on fire.

On “Coil,” it’s expressed in the way Nagano’s violin forms a helix pattern for Valdes’ guitar to wrap itself around as Hertenstein’s drums batter it from all directions.  A sense of conversation radiates from all that intensity, and the nature of the motion leans more toward sharp repartee than it does brutal shouting.  There’s the way that Valdes pours gasoline all over “Shuffle” and yet it doesn’t prevent the trio from giving the tune a delightful bounce for a tempo.  Or how “Finalized” gives the impression of the grand finales of every show on the tour spliced together into one composite tune.  On its face, “Untitled 21” is no less aggressive than its counterparts, and yet the trio’s delivery leads to an incongruously laid-back tone.  It’s these kinds of little surprises and inspired nuance that allows the huge sounds to breathe a little easier.  Now, when guitar blasts and violin strikes and percussive thunderstorms knock everything over, it can be a celebration of their impact and not a fallback plan to fill a vacuum of character.

And that’s why this very smart album is very seriously fun.

Your album personnel:  Harvey Valdes (guitar), Sana Nagano (violin) and Joe Hertenstein (drums).

The album is Self-Produced.

Listen to more of the album at the artist’s Bandcamp page.

Jazz from the Brooklyn scene.

Available at:  Bandcamp | Amazon | eMusic