Jul 4 2018
Where did this album even come from?
The first it showed up on my radar, Thanksgiving approached on the calendar, which signaled not just turkey & stuffing, but also the preparation of year-end Best Of lists. Naturally, I was still hitting the new releases lists on various sites, but not with the same zeal as I do most rest of the year. November is a wind-down month on quality releases, and December is typically a dead zone, bleak as a Chicago winter at 3am. I made additions to my follow-up list, sent out some promo requests, and all the while bracing myself for the inevitable meltdown of selecting a handful of albums from the hundreds deserving mention as the best 2017 had to offer.
It wasn’t too long after I’d submitted my ballots and finalized my own site’s Best Of list that I really got to sit down with Migration Patterns by Jack Radsliff.
It happens every year. Some excellent new album hits the shelves at year-end and gets lost in the deluge of holiday theme recordings that dominate November’s and December’s release cycle. Every year there’s a gem, some diamond in the snow, and it gets a mention in the subsequent year’s edition. It’s inevitable. What isn’t expected is for it to be a debut recording. A self-produced debut recording.
Some waves are deceptive. They roll in slowly, envelop and wash over you, seemingly harmless until the undercurrent grabs hold and pulls you away from shore, and suddenly the sheer immensity of the sea becomes imposingly clear. That’s a melody on Migration Patterns. The melodies ring out with a crisp beauty, but the harmonic undercurrent is what triggers the magnitude of that beauty. The rhythmic wash that follows simply drives that point home. Much in that way the Brian Blade Fellowship can make a ten minute piece feel like an epic journey, Radsliff’s sextet does the same with opening track “Ruby.” The ensemble lightens the mood with the buoyant “61 North,” shifting the influence a bit from new school to old school. The title-track hints at ballad then works a sleight-of-hand shift into something much wilder and free. “Breathe” is melody that’s let go and watched as it drifts off to the horizon. It’s also a precursor to “Vero” and the return to the surging melodic intensity that marks this excellent recording. Even when Radsliff ends the recording with the sublime blues of “From the Lectern,” the accumulated emotional impact up that point amplifies the resonance of a tune that’s fit more for moonlight than magnitude.
I’m still not sure where this album came from, but it should end up in all of your music libraries.
Your album personnel: Jack Radsliff (guitar), Joshua Hettwer (tenor sax, clarinet), Tony Glausi (trumpet, flugelhorn), Torrey Newhart (piano), Milo Fultz (bass) and Ken Mastrogiovanni (drums).
The album is Self-Produced.
Listen to more of the album on the artist’s Bandcamp page.
Music from Eugene, Oregon.