Recommended: JASS – “Mix of Sun and Clouds”


Saxophonist Alban Darche possesses a strange lyricism all his own.  It has an edge, and plenty of it.  But its delivery isn’t propelled by aggression, and the edges aren’t made to draw blood, and that’s why a melody from his saxophone is received more as sunlight than steel.  But like sunlight, Darche refracts the melody in a way that keeps it approaching from every direction but head-on.  And that he infuses it with strong doses of bop and blues makes the angular nature of the music that much more alien, even as it rings with the echoes of something familiar.

The quartet JASS exponentially raises this sonic effect, since it brings together four like-minded artists who revel in act of creating unconventional music.  Their name, taken from the first letter in the quartet of drummer John Hollenbeck, saxophonist Alban Darche, trombonist Samuel Blaser and bassist Sébastien Boisseau, slyly hints at the music’s origins, but Mix of Sun and Clouds is created by modern artists who are working on the music of tomorrow before the sun sets on today.

The odd geometry utilized to structure each piece is captivating when viewed in isolation.  There’s the way that “Roman I” bops around excitedly in all directions, but seems always guided in diagonal lines perpetually orbiting the song’s melodic center.  There’s also the peculiar tunefulness of “Wagonnet Song” and its foundation of rhythmic and harmonic collisions… as if they’d engineered a subway system from four different starting points and with four distinct junctions in mind.  But what really gives the music its personality is how the odd geometry provides room for details to emerge and resonate with comparative strength.  There’s the comforting familiarity of a thick streak of the blues emerging on “Bio” and the slow build of groove on “Ansia Da Separazione” and how it carries the melody on to greater heights.  And there’s also how a whisper of melody to start “Lonyay Utca” carries all the way to the end as it cycles through endless revolutions of nuance and subtle changes.

A fascinating album from artists who have made it their habit conjuring up fascinating music.

Your album personnel:  Alban Darche (tenor sax), Samuel Blaser (trombone), Sébastien Boisseau (double bass) and John Hollenbeck (drums).

Released on Yolk Records.

Listen to more of the album on the artist’s Soundcloud page.

It appears this album is only available for sale at the Yolk Records store.