Dec 20 2014
Sonic Halo has a captivating motion. Tiny bursts of propulsion create a sense of clockwork precision amidst an array of parts moving too quickly to fully absorb in the space of a single moment. It’s why notes constantly in motion always seem without a home, yet maintain a synchronicity where everything snaps right into place at just the right time. Saxophonists Greg Osby and Tineke Postma harness the energy of the motion and convert it into an array of shifting tempos and wavering melodies. However, like any functioning clock, each member of the Osby-Postma quintet are essential to the process, and that it’s so difficult to trace the chain of cause and effect of how a particular tune’s elements are set into motion draws attention to the strength of the quintet’s interplay. It’s a lot of little things combining to produce something more fascinating and much larger than any one component would have imagined.
The fluttering motion of opening track “Sea Skies” crosses over and recrosses its own path with sudden ascents and descents. It’s Schrödinger’s cat chasing its own tail while simultaneously chasing after its other possible tail.
The pulsing tempo of “Source Code” is juxtaposed with stream-of-conscious soloing from Osby and Postma and the intriguing moodiness from pianist Matt Mitchell, who creates some contrast with tone and some connections with tempo. He has a similar effect on the opening of “Where I’m From.” The quintet takes its foot off the gas pedal for this one and shows that the music’s captivating motion isn’t reliant on high rates of speed. Bassist Linda Oh‘s tuneful solo is a nice wash of melodicism on a song that generates all kinds of nuanced action through the rhythm.
The urgency of “Nine Times a Night” is belied by the genial warmth from Osby’s and Postma’s saxophones working in concert. So when “Bottom Forty” staggers disjointedly, the transition from song to song is as engaging as the changes that occur within the song itself.
It’s fascinating to hear Mitchell and Oh in their game of leapfrog, but Dan Weiss‘s genial chatter on drums is the real attraction on “Melo.” No less endearing is the quintet’s take on “Body and Soul,” the solitary comp that isn’t an Osby or Postma original.
Even when the quintet flirts with a groove, it’s within the environment of rhythmic shadowplay. Both “Facets” and “Pleasant Affliction” bring a sense of fun to an affair more inclined to serious action than lighthearted playfulness, but they, too, lend to intrigue in the manifestation of changes in motion.
There isn’t a moment on Sonic Halo likely to relinquish its hold on the listener. Seriously absorbing music.
Your album personnel: Greg Osby (soprano & alto saxophones), Tineke Postma (soprano & alto saxophones), Matt Mitchell (piano, Rhodes), Dan Weiss (drums) and Linda Oh (bass).
Released on Challenge Records.