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CD REVIEWS INNEROUTE FOURMATION (2015, PLANET ARTS)

With case play on top of multiple puns, the quartet INNErOUTe doesn’t make it easy to type its name or to interpret it, but one could say that, given the group’s native genre—improvisational jazz—difficulty is part of the bargain on every level. On Fourmation, this quartet of trumpet, electric piano, drums, and bass sets out to capture one evening of improvisations, and the results are scintillating, due as much to the excellent recording quality as to the heightened, empathic playing of this very capable and egoless ensemble. The reverberant mix rounds the top end of Rick Savage’s often effected trumpet and flugelhorn tone in the most pleasant way and situates the rhythm section of Michael D’Agostino (drums) and Bill McCrossen (bass) in a warm and natural space. The complex, phasey timbre of Joe Vincent Tranchina’s electric piano swirls through the space between voices like a sonic glue. Like so much free jazz, this stuff originates with Miles circa Bitches Brew and In a Silent Way; free and untimed conversations morph into near funk and back again on the opening track “Consensual Motion.” But on the lovely “Sacred Eclipse” and on many other tracks, INNErOUTe reveals itself to be a band more interested in moments of warm euphony than in contentious squawk. The music-as-spiritualpractice liner notes are borne out in the quite accessible and enjoyable sounds. Planetarts.org. —John Burdick

SETH DAVIS LIFE IS LONG

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(2015, TRUE GROOVE RECORDS)

The lyrics, music, performers and production on Seth Davis’ fourth album are all top-notch. But, beyond that, it is easily accessible by young and old, square and hip, the blissfuly ignorant mainstream and the manically wellinformed depressive. Davis is an old-soul troubadour in a 21st-century landscape. A Dylanesque mingling of Jakob’s easy-on-the-ears-and-brain voicings and lyrics with Bob’s personal and societal demons lurk insightfully lurking about. Instantly memorable songs like “Love Part 2” have an indie-folk pop feel reminiscent of the Wallflowers, whereas others waltz into familiar shades of The Band. And, like much of the art borne in the shadow of the Gunks, the mountain jags and whisper-winds dig their meat hooks into the blood and sinew of Life is Long. From the catchy singalongs to the clap-hands stomps, age-old themes and melodies are steeped and rebirthed with glorious sediment and a garnish of gritty polish. Familiar names like Rhett Miller (Old 97’s) and Simon Felice make appearances, but it is the lesser knowns that star and sprinkle fairy dust about like glitter at a rave. Sufjan Stevens would be most approving of Jim White’s production which includes trombone, cello, pedal steel, dobro, trumpet, flute, and violin. Marlon Patton’s drums and bass drive us home. Guitarist John Burdick’s (Sweet Clementines) tasty licks and grab-you tones are appropriately irreverant standouts and the guest vocals of Marianne Tasick, Jason Sarubbi, and others lay the beautiful and final complement of dichotomy to Davis’s heart-torn highway registers. SethDavis.com. —Jason Broome

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UPSTATE RUBDOWN A REMEDY (2015, INDEPENDENT)

The human voice. Damn, it’s a beautiful thing. Upstate Rubdown’s full-length debut, A Remedy—produced in Woodstock and Rhinebeck by Grammy winner Jason Miles—is focused on three contemporary female voices, but the net result is closer to the Roches than Mountain Man. Mary Kenney, Melanie Glenn, and Kate Scarlett all sing remarkably, and they weave their voices well, recalling not only the serpentine sibling harmonies of the Roches, but of the Andrews and Boswell sisters, too.The cooing opening notes of the opening track, Glenn’s “Ball Rolling,” make it seem like madrigals will be on the way, but they never arrive, thankfully. Instead, the eclectic trio bounces off an unexpected superstructure made of bass (Harry D’Agostino), mandolin (Ryan Chappell), and percussion (Dean Mahoney). The band, lacking familiar chordal anchors of guitar or piano, is off-kilter in a delicious, entirely unobtrusive way; and Chappell’s brash mandolin lends a welcome drive. Auxiliary members and supporting players (including saxophonist Joe Lovano) job in for specific tracks but never overpower the exuberant Rubdown vibe. Key tracks include Glenn’s plangent “New Life,” stacked with session guests; Kenney’s “No Slack,” flashing a hipster “This town ain’t big enough” chant; and D’Agostino’s “Bad Enough” which brings jazz changes and harmonies to the game. Also included, as a nod to Rubdown’s deeper roots, is a vibrant take of the 1927 Gene Austin chestnut “Tonight You Belong to Me.” UpstateRubdown.com. —Michael Eck CHRONOGRAM.COM LISTEN to tracks by the bands reviewed in this issue.

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Chronogram February 2016