Friday, September 25, 2015

Old Time Musketry, Drifter

Old Time Musketry and their album Drifter (NCM East 40139) have a certain appealing quirkiness. The quartet occupies its own niche in the contemporary jazz landscape. They are composition oriented, structured in a sort of "progressive" way, sometimes overtly avant, always most definitely "new" and unusual.

Part of that has to do with the musicians involved, part with the instrumentation and the roles each instrument plays in the totality. The group consists of Adam Schneit on tenor and clarinet, who also contributes two of the compositions, JP Schlegelmilch on accordion and piano, who crafted the bulk of the compositions here, plus Phil Rowan on acoustic bass and Max Goldman on drums (and tambourine and melodica). Brian Drye guests on trombone for one cut.

Everybody is first-rate musically. The tenor-accordion frontline makes for a sonic identity, not just by virtue of the actual sound of the instruments together but also importantly in how the music is arranged and the improvisatory skills of the two. Alternately they can switch to, for example, clarinet and piano, which then gives the music another dimension. Both are interesting and accomplished soloists, as is bassist Rowan.

The composed approach defines the music especially. The writing is quite nicely involved and intricate in a modern folksy-cafe-meets-contemporary manner. And there are through composed elements the ensemble takes on for the solo segments that continue to mark off the sound as unique.

The words I have used so far to describe the music relate to my experience of listening to it, but do not do full justice to how this music sounds. Imagine then some lineage that includes Weill and Carla Bley. Somehow Old Time Musketry relates to those roots but very much goes its own way. Schneit and Schlegelmilch have much to do with that in their writing and improvisatory interactions. Both are original and the rhythm section greately adds to the sound via what it plays and how it helps in creating the song-composition structures.

It is a fine album. It is a different kind of contemporary sound that resonates with roots but goes well along on its own path.

Listen to this one!

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