Jan 28 2020
It’s not like Caroline Davis sits still very long. The saxophonist has an eclectic array of projects, and spread out across the vast modern landscape of jazz expressionism. There’s the post-bop brilliance (and Chicago-hip name) of her Pedway ensemble, her contributions to the post-rock jazz of Whirlpool, her sonic documentary Doors: Chicago Storylines, and her ballad-as-ignition-switch 2018 release Heart Tonic. Her latest, however, treats all previous projects like they were standard straight-ahead sessions, and now this is when she really stretches out. By way of comparison, it’s how things shake out. This excellent electro-acoustic trio set with drummer Greg Saunier and keyboardist Matt Mitchell is a massive upheaval of melodies, of harmonies shattered like glass, and rhythms that dance on the shards while laughing. This album surprises with loving melodies that break through the clearing, or when it unexpectedly settles into a cadence with the rhythmic quality of crickets chirping loudly at the moon on a clear night. It is crazily tuneful, even when at its most chaotic. It’s serious business, but its only business is having fun. It is the end of ever thinking you know what to expect from a Caroline Davis recording. Alula is one of the very best recordings of 2019.
Your album personnel: Caroline Davis (alto saxophone, voice), Matt Mitchell (Prophet 6 synthesizer, modular synth, ARP synthesizer), and Gregory Saunier (drums, percussion, voice).
Released on New Amsterdam Records.
Music from Brooklyn, NY.
I wrote about the album for The Bandcamp Daily.
Cool album cover art by Robert Pollard.