Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Anna Webber - Simple (Skirl, 2014) ****½

New York based Anna Webber's saxophone work is kind of like Tim Berne's in its angularity and wit. Spare and precise, the patterns and logical progressions she uses creates a self-contained world of sound. 

From the album’s strong start with ‘Carnophobia’, you get the sense that the songs are sketches, templates made of musical cues and suggestions that lead the musicians in different directions. Weber's woodwinds are joined by John Hollenbeck on drums and Matt Mitchell on piano, making up a versatile trio that is quick on its toes and can really bring the songs to life.

There is a delightful intensity created by the interlocking parts and forward momentum on the aforementioned track - in fact, you may find yourself bopping around a bit to its askew grooves. However, the use of silence and untempered sounds are just as important as the more intense moments. Also, there is a sense of fun here that can sometimes goes missing in music - and it can be a vital component. For example, the lighter mood of 'Emoticon' gives the serious moments like 'For Erik' more heft. 

The synchronous playing on 'I Don't Want to be Happy' is interesting as well. Obviously composed parts seem to flow seamlessly into free improv, where the trio displays its musical telepathy. Another pleasure to be found is in the more delicate 'Washington' where Weber's flute work deftly interacts with Mitchell's light touch on the piano.

Throughout the album, pulse and purpose drive the songs and Weber's melodic lines interleave smartly with the piano and drums. The songs often build off small repetitive patterns that layer, with all three instruments leading the way with a whole range of timbers and tones. Go listen!


Matthew said...

I absolutely love this album. So interesting and eclectic.

Unknown said...

Yes, this a fantastic album.

Bg Porter said...

Wow, what a great surprise -- this is great stuff. Thanks for this (and all the other posts...)

Steve P. said...

I must join the chorus singing the praises of this album. Great stuff indeed.

Kenny said...

Absolutely stellar album!

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