Post. 3 Sept 2019.

This is not at all a “blowing” record. “Prehensile Dream,” in fact, features hardly any soloing at all. The mesmerizing melody is simply repeated, with increasing urgency, until the same haunting guitar arpeggios that began the tune return to end it. Similarly, “Reclusive” and “Melismatic Clouds of Joy” build melodies into ecstatic yet mournful cries, harnessing the power of the full ensemble to drive the point home. One would probably need to go back to an album like Nefertiti to hear this kind of mantra-like emphasis on melody in a modern jazz ensemble. 

As horn stylists go, D’Angelo and McHenry couldn’t be more different, and Anderson takes advantage of this in many ways during the course of the album.

On “The Owl,” for instance, D’Angelos solo is almost entirely “out,” his playful screeches contrasting with McHenry’s careful, yet energetic, dissection of the quickly moving changes. At other times the two-horn interplay is as subtle as that heard on “Foxy,” where D’Angelo plays the slow, singable melody before McHenry takes it over, continuing it underneath D’Angelos solo. Ben Monder is also a tremendously important part of the bands sound, comping clean, mellow chords and contributing fine solos on several cuts. His fuzztone workout toward the end of “The Captain” is a highlight. Marlon Browden’s loose yet cohesive time feel suits the music perfectly, and his quasi-rubato free-for-all during the finale, “Silence Is the Question,” give the piece most of its dynamic shape.

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