wed 24/04/2024

CD: Owen Broder - Heritage | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Owen Broder - Heritage

CD: Owen Broder - Heritage

Americana meets modern jazz in collection of striking originals and inspired reworkings

Searching for roots: Owen Broder

An album that enchants and surprises in equal measure, Heritage sees US sax player and composer Owen Broder explore the full gamut of American roots music – from blues and Appalachian folk to bluegrass and spirituals – through the prism of modern jazz.

Subtitled ‘The American Roots Project’, Broder’s welcoming inclusiveness is evident from the outset, with his self-penned “Goin’ Up Home” transmogrifying from a simple folk chorale into driving swing and, neatly bookending the album, the collective improv of “A Wiser Man Than Me” which channels the singular sound-world of New Orleans.

A stellar group of composers and arrangers includes the Japanese bandleader and pianist Miho Hazama, whose “Wherever the Road Leads” interpolates a spirited reel within sumptuous jazz harmonies, NEA Jazz Master Bill Holman who adroitly transplants “Jambalaya” from the Crescent City to New York, with coruscating solos from violinist Sara Caswell and trumpeter Scott Wendholt, and Vanguard Jazz Orchestra pianist and composer Jim McNeely, whose take on “Cripple Creek” provides a riot of instrumental colour.

It’s impossible not to fall in love with Ryan Truesdell’s complete reimagining of the classic “Wayfaring Stranger”. Pianist Frank Kimbrough’s preludial opening leads you into a tenebrous, melancholic wonderland, punctuated by Caswell’s sorrowing fiddle lines and James Shipp’s icily chiming vibes. Beautifully sung as a duet by Kate McGarry and Wendy Gilles, Truesdell – an arranger of strange and rare device – saves the surprise until the final chorus when Vuyo Sotashe joins to form a beatific vocal trio. Sotashe also impresses on Alphonso Horne’s “The People Could Fly,” which draws on both African American and South African roots.

Recorded over two days at Bunker Studios in New York City, huge plaudits must go to Aaron Nevezie (studio engineer) and Brian Montgomery (digital editing and mixing) for the astonishing clarity they achieve, even when – as in Truesdell’s “Brodeo” – the music is at its most rapturously symphonic.

Pianist Frank Kimbrough’s preludial opening leads you into a tenebrous, melancholic wonderland


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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