Best of 2019 #28: Wing Walker Orchestra – “Hazel”


Of the various influences referenced by band leader Drew Williams as shaping this album (tUnE-yArDs, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Radiohead, the graphic novel Saga), it’s that of Guillermo Klein’s ensemble Los Guachos that speaks to the heart of Hazel.  For this is folk music, through and through.  Yes, the Wing Walker Orchestra gives voice to a futuristic type of folk music, one perhaps whose roots haven’t yet taken hold in the soil.  But in much the same way that Guillermo Klein does with the materials of modern jazz and Argentinian musics, Drew Williams’ ensemble draws a poignancy and epic expressionism from their own influences, and imbue their music with a quality that is much more than just jazz or folk and yet undeniably both.  The lyricism of Hazel possesses a strange allure, in that way misshapen objects command the attention and redefine the concept of beauty.  Ultimately, it may this characteristic that captures the essence of the album’s winning personality.

Your album personnel:  Drew Williams (bass clarinet), Marta Sánchez (piano), Brad Mulholland (alto sax, clarinet), Eric Trudel (tenor sax), John Blevins (trumpet), Danny Gouker (trumpet), Karl Lyden (trombone), Nick Grinder (trombone), Jeff McLaughlin (guitar), Adam Hopkins (acoustic bass) and Nathan Ellman-Bell (drums).

Released on Ears & Eyes Records.

Music from Jersey City, NJ.

I wrote about the album for The Bandcamp Daily.

Cool cover art by Brendan Culp.

Listen | Read more | Available at:  Bandcamp – Amazon