Mar 22 2017
It would’ve been very easy for United to become simply a vehicle for the rare display of violin in a jazz setting. Almost effortlessly, Jason Anick could’ve wielded his instrument’s unconventional voicing to claim the stage front and center, drawing most attention to the rarity of its presence. But pianist Jason Yeager is in sync with Anick’s method of communication, and that’s a big reason why their new release has such a pleasing balance.
The influences of the Middle-East (“Achi“) and Argentina (“La Segunda“) and Poland (“Stillness”) inform the compositions, but these are a mild gravitational pull and do nothing to drag the album out of its folk-jazz orbit. There’s a mix of originals and renditions, and, by far, it’s the originals that show this recording in its best light. The Anick original “Bird’s Eye View” practically sings, and this is true whether Anick’s violin is aiming a solo skyward or Yeager’s piano is softly brushing against blades of grass. And Anick’s “Well Red” displays a lyrical focus, where how something is expressed is more important than its meaning. The Yeager original “Harlem Hoedown” straddles the difference between those two, finding room for some wild expressiveness and a crisp melody that borders on catchy. As far as the renditions, it’s a mixed bag. The fragile beauty of their version of Zbigniew Seifert’s “Stillness” is a stunning moment. On the other hand, their subdued take on George Harrison’s “Something” leaves a regret that the duo might have taken a few chances at leaving their personal imprint on the heartwarming original.
They operate mostly as a quartet with the bass and drums of Greg Loughman and Mike Connors, but Anick and Yeager switch things up with a number of guests, including trumpeter Jason Palmer and tenor saxophonist George Garzone, adding some welcome voices to an album that, thankfully, finds room for them all.
Your album personnel: Jason Anick (violin, electric mandolin), Jason Yeager (piano), Greg Loughman (bass), Mike Connors (drums) and guests: George Garzone (tenor sax), Jason Palmer (trumpet), John Lockwood (bass), Jerry Leake (percussion), Clay Lyons (alto sax).
Released on Inner Circle Music.
Listen to more of the album on the artist’s Bandcamp page.
Music from Boston, MA.