Story City - Time and Materials: The evolution of instrumental jazz-rock music fusing jazz improvisation with funk, classical structures with rock rhythms and the abstract to create a unique sound that embraces the co-existence of diverse musical cultures. A press release or a resume? Initially this sounds like a band in desperate need of an identity, a focal point as opposed to what initially sounds like a musical hodgepodge of nothing.
At least that is what I thought...
All thing being equal, Time and Materials is a well developed and diverse presentation of modern jazz combined with some more old school fusion. Much like contemporary jazz you will find bit and pieces of rock rhythms or classical structure but at times there is an unmistakable contemporary ambient quality to this delightful presentation. As far from hodgepodge as one can get there is an intense and somewhat emotionally charged lyrical sense of purpose especially on the opener "Drake Place." The varied cast members here each bring a prolific style that merges together in a dynamic musical cohesion as this octet comes together in a far more intimate setting then their numbers would indicate. "Loops" is the second track and a composition from saxophonist Andrew Schwandt. Shifting dynamics, emotionally charged intensity and virtuoso performance from both Schwandt and bassist Terry Burns. As a critic there is a litmus test to judge the true net worth of a release. Can I label it? If the answer is no then I may be on to something. "Fitzwright Inn" is another original from saxophonist Schwandt and while bordering on a funk meets fusion vibe thanks to the intoxicating addition of Sean Turner's use of the Rhodes there is a more cohesive sound coming from this band then some playing together twice as long. "Gratitude" has the ensemble somewhat more introspective and the intensity dialed back but not the keen sense of harmonic development.
There is a musical sense of purpose with Story City, they are the real deal. Having reviewed at least 75 bands with the same game plan when it came to sound and development maybe 3 could pull it off on this high of an artistic level. A rock solid release with far too many high points to list and anything negative would simply be hypercritical as there is nothing that does any real damage to a killer release such as this. Story City has a goal to have the listener experience the same or close to the same type passion they felt when creating these original works.
Passion. Some people dream about it. Some live it.
Time and Materials is an absolute winner with solid tunes and musicians with the skills to match!
Tracks: Drake Place; Loops; Fitzwright Inn; Time And Materials; Truth To Power; Hilltop; Lead Sky; Gratitude; Silent Joe.
Personnel: Andrew Schwandt: sax; Karl Koopman: guitar; Steve Jennings: drums; Terry Burns: bass; Sean Turner: keyboards; Steve Faison: vocals and percussion; Shai Hayo: percussion; Dave Schmalenberger: mallets.