I have been on a mission as of late, a quest for new sounds and fresh presentations. In short, I have been looking for raw organic sounds that still support a little musical muscle when necessary. Joshua Kwassman is releasing Songs of the Brother Spirit on Truth Revolution Records on March 12th.
In the overly crowded field of wind players, Kwassman emerges with a release that digs deep. An conceptualized personal account of the loss of innocence and the passage of time. Songs of the Brother Spirit features guitar phenom Gilad Hekselman and wordless pristine vocals of Arielle Feinman. Intimate yet open ended and at times cinematic and thoughtful. A contemporary excursion with influences that range from Ravel to Vince Mendoza. At times deceptively simply and lush melodies are interrupted with virtuoso performances from Kwassman, Adam Kromelow on piano for the opening track "Our Land." Capturing raw emotion in such a stripped down fashion yet with the controlled sonic fury necessary to push an otherwise "good" recording to a level of greatness that others will be hard pressed to match. Kwassman can easily hold his own on both alto and soprano saxophone with anyone however his compositional skills are simply from another dimension. Hekselman gives a six string master class on "We Were Kids" while the vocals of Feinman add a textured sonic richness reaching a melodic high that few ensembles are able to achieve while remaining this accessible. All the stars were in perfect alignment for an ensemble that sounds as though they have been a working band for twenty years. A viable candidate for album of the year without hesitation.
Songs of The Brother Spirit has the rare ability to tell an emotional story without words be it changing relationships between young friends, the loss of innocence or the realization that one day a mother and father that were always around will some day depart this life for another. Kwassman is the cultural byproduct of his own experience and it is the ability to be so emotionally connected with his artistic sense of self that makes this release so gripping. The comedian Martin Mull once said "Describing music is like dancing with architecture." Having recently reviewed the Eddie Vedder recording Into The Wild which is the soundtrack of a life adventure, Songs of the Brother Spirit could easily pass for the jazz equivalent. The next Vince Mendoza? Time will tell but Kwassman announces his presence with authority and has a great head start!
Personnel: Joshua Kwassman: alto/soprano sax, clarinet, flute, melodica, piano (4); Arielle Feinman: voice, glockenspiel; Gilad Hekselman: guitar (1,2,3,4,7,8); Jeff Miles: guitar (6); Angelo DiLoreto: piano: (5,6,7,8); Adam Kromelow: piano: (1,2,3); Craig Akin: bass; Rodrigo Recabarren: drums, percussion.
Tracks: Our Land; We Were Kids; In Light There Is Song; 2/22; Meditation; The Nowhere Trail (Parts I-III).