Monday, January 25, 2016

Arnold Hammerschlag, No Face, No Name

What's in a name, or for today, what's in No Face, No Name (Skirl Records 030), the recent album by new jazz trumpeter-composer Arnold Hammerschlag? The answer is, a great deal. It's a quintet running very nicely through ten Hammerschlag compositions in a manner one might dub "village jazz." I say that because there is a definite strain of peasant/Jewish music, dance music, old folk music and perhaps a touch of the more urbane cafe sound of yesterday.

The band's instrumentation helps that along, with Arnold of course on trumpet, Sam Bardfeld on violin, Will Holshouser on accordion, Brian Glassman on bass and Aaron Alexander on drums. They are very much stylistically in the zone for such things, playing a modern jazz in touch with those roots and melding the folk-populist strain with contemporary improvisatory ways.

The compositions structure how the music goes, nicely so, and the trumpet-violin-accordion front line has both song-voicing and improvisational clout. The rhythm team, too, does an excellent job straddling the two worlds.

Kurt Weill and Carla Bley are predecessors for this sort of thing, as one is pleasantly reminded of while listening. But this is a step into its own world, a nicely turned original set with excellent playing from all concerned. After the record-setting blizzard this past weekend here I am again reminded of Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, except once you hear this music you DO know what you are getting and it stays right there with compositionally alive melodic-harmonic turns and worthy solo efforts. Hammerschlag plays some exceptional trumpet, but then Bardfeld and Holshouser are no slouches, either.

A very striking set is what we have on No Face, No Name. Hammerschlag is a definite talent and this music sounds great, ever better the more you listen. Highly recommended!

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