Dec 19 2013
It’s tough to strike a balance between creating a peaceful album and a sleepy one, between the establishment of an atmospheric presence and a snoozer of a recording. There’s gotta be something going on, either thick simple melodies to keep the heart attentive or some tinkering with motion and moving parts to create a dynamic environment to keep the cerebral side occupied… all without shattering the serenity the musicians have worked so hard to create in the first place.
This World and One More, the new release by the Whirlpool trio of Caroline Davis (alto sax), Charles Rumback (drums), and Jeff Swanson (guitar) hit the sweet spot where serenity and spontaneity converge, and they’ve created a dreamy little album for those times when sleep is the last thing on the mind.
Album opener “Freedom Waves Flotilla” gets right to the heart of what this album is all about. Davis has a soothing tone on alto sax, even when she’s gives the notes a little edge… too lively to be a lullaby, so comforting as to put one at ease. Rumback accentuates that latter quality with economical yet steady crashes of cymbals and bursts of rain drop taps on drums. Meanwhile, Swanson’s guitar wends its way between the two, adding a glittering shine to the melody, adding softness to the rhythm.
The next two tracks do nothing to shatter the serenity, though “Dreamliner” is a bit more talkative, whereas “Raysh and Jonah” is a long, peaceful sigh. Title-track “Whirlpool” is a slower version of the album opener and makes use of loose ends and frayed threads.
Even a track like “Dragons in Denver,” with a jagged edge for a melody, goes about its display of dissonance with a nonchalance that’s more than a little bit appealing.
“Spark” differentiates itself from the fold courtesy of flurries of bright notes from Swanson’s guitar, bolstered by a chipper rhythm and pulsing saxophone notes.
The album ends with “That Day,” a song that begins with typically dreamy fashion, but then builds up to a dramatic conclusion. But even here, this display of life doesn’t grow into dissonance or deconstruct into abstraction… there is still an overriding melodic element to the intensity that doesn’t break from the album’s mesmerizing presence.
This is one of those recordings that sets out to do one thing really well and just nails it.
Released on Ears & Eyes Records.
Cool album cover by Jacob Hand.
Available at: Bandcamp CD & Digital
Other Things You Should Know:
Definitely track down other recordings by Davis and Rumback. Davis’s last album Live Work & Play was reviewed here, and was one of my eMusic Jazz Picks. She’s also got an outfit called Pedway that I’ve been meaning to touch upon in a future article. Rumback is a member of the Colorlist duo, whose album Sky Song I recently reviewed here, plus he’s also a member of Stirrup, whose album Sewn was also reviewed here. I have an upcoming article (TBA) that focuses on the music of Rumback and fellow Colorlist member Charles Gorczynski, so keep an eye out for that. This may be my introduction to guitarist Swanson, and I couldn’t really find any information on him online. Lemme know if you turn up anything interesting.