Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Matt Ulery's "Loom" - DownBeat

Matt Ulery’s Loom
Wake An Echo
Greenleaf 1031

Bassist Matt Ulery has followed up last year’s ambitious large ensemble release By A Little Light with a much smaller group but that does not mean it is any less rich in scope. His quintet, buoyed by a standard piano/bass/drums rhythm section, features a unique frontline: trumpeter Marquis Hill and bass clarinetist Geof Bradfield. The pair blends their voices to create a lot of different textures that help fill out Ulery’s intricate charts with sounds seemingly larger than two sets of lungs puffing away.

Ulery wrote all the sweepingly cinematic tunes for this album as well as playing double bass. Opener “The Lady Vanishes” pulsates between languid, searching jaunts while “In Every Lonely Chamber” summons the ghosts of a thousand lovelorn detectives trying to figure out where they went wrong. With the limited instrumentation, Ulery has created a unified sound. Solo spaces are generous for most of the band but the bass itself hangs way in the back.

Unfortunately, pianist Rob Clearfield’s presence is front and center. His relentless approach on the record pounds through measure after measure on many of the uptempo tunes with little space for rests. Some of his solo jaunts can be downright exhausting, filling a lot of space with trills and arpeggios where silence would be perfectly acceptable. His dizzying bombast kind of works on “Coriander” where drummer Jon Deilemyer matches his fervor with his own spins and crashes but Clearfield pushes it even further on the following track, “Over Under Other,” eventually running like a faucet into an overflowing sink. He switches to accordion for “My Favorite Stranger” and the confines work nicely in conjunction with Hill, laying down a reedy pad for the trumpeter to build upon. More of those accordion interactions would have been welcome on this album.

Wake An Echo: The Lady Vanishes; In Every Lonely Chamber; Coriander; Over Under Other; My Favorite Stranger; Carefree; All the Riven. (56:23)

Personnel: Marquis Hill, trumpet; Geof Bradfield, bass clarinet; Rob Clearfield, piano & accordion; Matt Ulery, double bass; Jon Deilemyer, drums & cymbals.

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