Quartet: Vortices

Quartet: Vortices
Quartet: Vortices

Quartet: Vortices by Nate Lepine.
Bandcamp Link: Quartet: Vortices

A few weeks back I covered a record by Quin Kirchner’s group called The Other Side of Time.

Nate Lepine played in that group and some of the most interesting songs on that album were their takes on Charles Mingus’ songs.

This album is under Mr Lepine’s name, but also includes Mr Kirchner.

And while the music of Mingus isn’t covered literally, it is here spiritually.

And while Mr Sorey’s groups, “are not a jazz group,” Mr Kirchner and Mr Lepine’s groups pointedly ARE playing in modern versions of the Jazz idiom.

There is some really outstanding writing and playing here, the rhythm section, Mr Kirchner and Sommers, are especially fantastically propulsive, making it hard not to tap along and enjoy the music.

The interplay of the two saxophonists, Lepine on Tenor and Mazarella on Alto, feels like the work of a couple, players who can complete each other’s sentences. And, man, can they play precision harmony.

I don’t know if this group has played together a lot, but the whole group feels like one who is used to cooking together.

The melodic writing is often in what I call “Noir Jazz” mode, but the intervals are less minor than pure blues, and often very interestingly evoke 20th century composers like Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein.

If you’re looking for a modern Jazz album that is a pure joy to listen to, and hum along to, this is a great one.

#NateLepine #QuartetVortices #NickMazzarella #ClarkSommers #QuinKirchner #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

The Other Side of Time

The Other Side of Time by Quin Kirchner.
Bandcamp Link: The Other Side of Time

I read this band was touring on the Astral Spirits instagram feed. Three things caught my eye. The first was the horn heavy instrumentation, which is a bit idiosyncratic and tilted towards the low end (Bass Clarinet, Trombone, Tenor Sax, Drums, and Double Bass). The second thing I noticed was that Nate Lepine was the Tenor Player. I am familiar with is work from other bands, both rock-ish and jazz-ish. The third thing I noticed was that the Bass Clarinet player is Jason Stein. Bass Clarinet is pretty much my favorite instrument (even though I suck at it), so anytime I see it in a featured role, I am down. Also, I’d read about Jason Stein obliquely. I had read that his half sister, Amy Schumer, likes to torture her comedy audiences by having Jason Stein, “Free Jazz Bass Clarinetist”, open for her when she tours.

The fourth thing I knew is that almost everything that Astral Spirits puts out is pretty great.

And this is pretty great.

It’s on the Boppish side of free, a bit West of Charles Mingus, and a bit North of Frank Zappa. They actually cover a couple Mingus tunes, The Shoes Of The Fisherman’s Wife Are Some Jive Ass Slippers & Self Portrait In Three Colors, along other tunes from with Sun Ra, Kelan Philip Cohran, Andrew Hill, and Paul Motian. Some ballsy choices!

Kirchner, and his bandmates, have obviously gone to music school because these are some pretty complex arrangements.

I was particularly struck by the close harmonies executed by the horns. Getting Bass Clarinet and Tenor Sax to harmonize and sound good together isn’t one of those things that is easily done, but these guys pull it off, and throw in a trombone for good measure.

Beyond the arrangements, there’s a lot of music here to digest, around 70 minutes. This is no EP disguised as an album, as some artists are recently releasing, but there is no filler.

Kirchner gives himself some space on three tunes, playing percussion solos, though multitracked, and with some electronic effects, I was particularly taken with the songs he calls “Drums and Tines”.

The free-est tune is the 14 minute “Armageddon”, which, while raucous, still doesn’t quite give up having a tonal center. Stein, especially, acquits himself with grace, exploring the full sonic range of the Bass Clarinet.

I’m glad I took a chance on this one, I learned some new names to look out for!

If you get a chance to see this band live, take it!

#QuinKirchner #TheOtherSideOfTime #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #NickBroste #NateLepine #JasonStein #MattUlery #BenBoye