There have been few times in my life when music has caused me to shed tears. Interestingly, all of these heart swelling tear inducers have been instrumental. John Coltrane ’s “Spiritual”, Albert Ayler ’s “Ghosts: First Variations” and Ravel ’s “Pavane Pour Un Enfant Defunte” (the solo piano version). To that list I can now add the opening track, “Theme”, from The Arboreal Quartet ’s debut.
Based in Montreal, The Arboreal Quartet may seem at first glance to be of the “global jazz” ilk, following a path trod prior by Ry Cooder and V.M. Bhatt ’s A Meeting By The River in it’s fusing of guitar and sarode music. In this writer’s opinion that watermark is here surpassed, not necessarily in it’s musicianship (which is masterful), but in it’s successful crafting of it’s own language. The cast of the music draws from jazz and traditional Indian music, naturally, but the scaffold of the songs are less a platform for endless virtuosic soloing than a series of linked vignettes.. poignant without feeling maudlin, engaging without overreaching or overstaying the ear’s welcome. Songs like “Mountain” for example, build on deceptively simple motifs set forth by the sarode and guitar, are garnished by mellifluous sprinklings of solo work and held firmly in place by the tasteful upright bass and brushed drums. Without a scrap of lyric, the songs manage to be incredibly lyrical, singing images pleasantly into the mind’s ear. The attentive listener is transported into splendid harbors of bright and comforting light and shade, to the point where the texture of the music is almost palpable to the touch.
Spearheaded by Montreal musician John Wrinch Williams (sarode), The Arboreal Quartet also includes Tom Eliosoff (guitar), Fernando Gelso (drums) and J.F. Martins on bass. On this, their self-titled debut as an ensemble, all are playing with the virtuosity and restraint evident in players at the top of their abilities. One listen is enough to leave an indelible impression on your soul. Isn’t that why we play, listen to and seek out music in the first place? A beautiful, deep and triumphant album.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Yesterday we received an album review on The Big Takeover, the Brooklyn, New York-based music magazine. Many thanks to Matt Lee for the review! Here's the text:
Posted by John at 11:48 AM