Nov 4 2016
Those times that Kenji Herbert spins moonlight with other string instruments is the selling point on his The Way the Light Falls. The guitarist presents the perfect dancing partner for harpist Maeve Gilchrist and violinist Alex Hargreaves, and the slow melt of their graceful waltz into a calm pool of serenity is the kind of thing that should really never end. The folk and chamber influences provide a little bit of elegance and a rustic charm, and it’s why the album displays a well-rounded personality.
But also providing some essential balance are those tracks when it’s a quartet with saxophonist Dan Blake, bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Devin Drobka. The flow of the album doesn’t change, nor does its prevailing serenity, but that little extra bit of edge keeps dreamy music from ever getting sleepy, not unlike how talkative rapids don’t temper the peacefulness of the river. The heavy tranquility of “Unravel” and “Orchids” wouldn’t resonate nearly as strong were it not for the heat of “Dropka” and “Door.”
Contributing even more tonal color to the mix are Herbert’s collaborations with vibraphonist Yuhan Su and vocalist Julia Easterlin. Where the former adds some lovely textural counterpoint to the guitar’s enchantment, Easterlin’s wordless vocals add thick harmonic washes as contrast to the deft use of extended pauses and silence.
Really, just a beautiful album.
Your album personnel: Kenji Herbert (guitar), Dan Blake (soprano saxophone), Chris Tordini (bass), Devin Drobka (drums) and guests: Maeve Gilchrist (harp), Alex Hargreaves (violin), Julia Easterlin (voice) and Yuhan Su (vibraphone).
Released on Inner Circle Music.
Listen to more of the album at the artist’s Bandcamp page.
Jazz from the Brooklyn scene.