May 3 2018
Scott DuBois makes a pretty good argument for savoring the cold seasons a little while longer
In 2015 and now again at the very end of 2017, Scott DuBois released albums inspired by the seasons. Considering his 2012 release Landscape Scripture focused on Claude Monet’s haystacks paintings, it was a natural transition. Looking back upon it now, perhaps that was where the guitarist began it all. Winter and then Autumn were the first stages of the cycle reinterpreted through DuBois’ sound in vision.
We are at that despairing stage of the seasons now, where we’ve persevered through the worst winter had to throw at us, but the nagging impatience for warmer days makes the lingering effects of cold weather nearly intolerable. DuBois gives us reason to keep celebrating the colder seasons. Preferably inside.
2015’s Winter Light is a day in the life of the bleakest season. It begins, as we all do, at first light, and then gradually cycles through the stages of the day until nightfall and, finally, sleep. The opening piece “First Light Tundra” beautifully captures the expressive skies and icy volatility of a winter morning. It’s driven by the potent combination of sunrise serenity and the massive presence of snow and ice and frozen winds just waiting on the other side of the window to pierce your soul the moment you step outside. And really, from that point, the music alternates shades of the opening’s tranquility and intensity. “Night Tundra” gives a sense of the oppressive collapse of wintertime darkness upon the earth, but also the insight that its enfolding embrace possesses a certain comfort when experienced within reach of a fireplace and warm lights and loved ones. The soothing drone of “Afternoon Ice Fog” is the eye of the storm, those fleeting hours when the beauty of winter eclipses its talent for inflicting pain. “Evening Blizzard” is the reminder of what awaits outside the protective shell of the eye of the storm.
Your album personnel: Scott DuBois (guitar), Gebhard Ullmann (tenor sax, bass clarinet), Thomas Morgan (bass) and Kresten Osgood (drums).
Released in 2015 on ACT Music.
Available at: Amazon
DuBois’ treatment of the autumnal season is more expansive than that of winter. Some of this approach reflects the difference between the nuance of Winter and the brilliant bursts of autumnal colors. And, perhaps, the guitarist was simply looking to expand the tonal palette of his ensemble. DuBois adds a string quartet plus and a woodwind trio to the same quartet that gave voice to the winter season. The result is a focus on change. There’s the change of colors in the trees and the merciful relief from Summer’s debilitating heat, and how this brings about a sense of tranquility. But autumnal change is also the massive upheaval of life into the hibernation of Winter. So the great fluttering of wings on “Early November Bird Formations” and the explosion of brilliant colors on “Autumn Aurora Borealis” and “Late October Changing Leaves” and the eerie calm of “Late September Dusk Walk” shift with great suddenness between states of serenity and volatility. And regardless of which state holds at any one time, there’s an undercurrent of tension, as if the world were nervously awaiting the final change to manifest, and the inevitable descent into the cold months of winter.
Your album personnel: Scott DuBois (guitar), Gebhard Ullmann (tenor sax, bass clarinet), Thomas Morgan (bass), Kresten Osgood (drums), Eva León, Conway Kuo (violins), William Frampton (viola), Sarah Rommel (cello), Erin Lesser (flute), BJ Karpen (oboe), Elisabeth Stimpert (clarinet) and Michael Harley (bassoon).
Released in 2017 on ACT Music.
Available at: Amazon
Jan 30 2020
Best of 2019 #19: Adam Baldych Quartet – “Sacrum Profanum”
Adam Baldych, as with many musicians before him, came up through the classical music traditions, and, like many musicians before him, gravitated to jazz’s untamed wildness and structural freedoms. But you don’t forget where you’ve come from, and the act of revisiting the past is as natural as breathing. The challenge is in how to interpret the past, now, viewed through older perspectives and in the light of today. And so, on his latest, the violinist keeps one foot in his past traditions and the other in his current, and it’s why austere classical pieces display some of the audacious dramatics of a typical Baldych jazz work, but also, conversely, why the jazz pieces reflect a more focused, sleeker lyricism than what one might otherwise expect from the violinist. This shadowplay between past and present results in Baldych’s best work to date.
Your album personnel: Adam Bałdych (violin, renaissance violin), Krzysztof Dys (piano, prepared upright piano, toy piano), Michał Barański (double bass), and Dawid Fortuna (drums, crotales, gran cassa).
Released on ACT Music.
Music from Warsaw, Poland.
Listen | Read more | Available at: Amazon
By davesumner • Recap: Best of 2019 • 0 • Tags: ACT Music, Adam Baldych, Best Jazz of 2019, Violin, Warsaw (Poland)