No...It's not a self portrait but keeping jazz weird is a good thing. I am a tad torched on the word eclectic at the moment.
A melodic groove, some over the top improvisation and some ambient type atmosphere all come together for one compelling reason - for you to listen.
Saxophonist/Composer Matthew Silberman hits a home run his first time up to bat by attacking the visceral and cerebral with a sonic adventure entitled Questionable Creatures. Are these compositions about the questionable creatures we come across in our daily life? While I normally date mine it would appear to be so. Silberman draws a great deal of inspiration for constructing elaborate narratives through his compositions. However the construction of his ensemble may play an important role as well. Silberman's quintet is just a bit left of center but...it works incredibly well with two guitarists, Silberman's tenor and a bass-drum rhythm section. Granted this is not the typical jazz quintet with two horn players but with musical inspiration including Radiohead and Sonic Youth let us leave convention at the door for the time being.
"Ghost Of The Prairie" gives off the more alternative rock based feel while maintaining a free form jazz sensibility. Seemingly everyday noise is used as a percussive nuance adding depth, character and amazing texture to a fascinating tune. "Dream Machine" is lyrically and harmonically inventive but without every dancing close to that ever present self indulgent cliff. Perhaps a favorite tune and being a tenor saxophonist myself I should get some say here..."Mrs. Heimoff" is a critics worst nightmare as it side steps all standard categorization with relative ease. Bebop? No. Hard bop? A little. Free jazz? Getting warm...The shifting meter and harmonic exploratory allows this and most all the tunes here to give up a little something new with each subsequent spin of the disc.
Ryan Ferreira and Greg Ruggiero are the perfect guitar tandem on this outing and the rhythm section of bassist Chris Tordini and Tommy Crane are spot on.
What I find to be so enchanting with this release and with the individuals here is that these are not necessarily standard compositions in the strictest of terms but musical descriptions. How you hear and interpret these descriptions is left up to you. Nice to have that burden taken off my shoulders. Far too often we find artists too self indulgent that they are incapable of getting past their intended message to play the music we intended to here. An absolutely stunning debut release. Questionable Creatures makes me come to terms with the fact that the best place for my tenor may be on the wall of the local T.G.I Fridays.
5 Huge Stars...
Easily on my Best of 2012!
Photo creatively acquired via Matthew Silberman's web site.
Tracks: Ghost Of The Prairie; Mrs. Heimoff; Breathe; The Battle At Dawn; Questionable Creatures; Dream Machine; The Process; The Pharaoh's Tomb.
Personnel: Matthew Silberman: tenor saxophone; Ryan Ferreira: guitar (solos on 1,2,5,7 2nd, 8 2nd); Greg Ruggiero: guitar (solos 3,4,7 1st, 8 1st); Christopher Tordini: bass; Tommy Crane: drums.
Special Thanks to Jordy at DL Media!
Brand New Video for the Questionable Creatures Release!