Friday, January 16, 2015

Matt Ulery, In the Ivory

I've missed the last few Matt Ulery albums. Not out of choice. It just happened. I covered Matt's music for Cadence and liked what I heard very much. His music has been evolving, so that the bassist-composer's recent In the Ivory (Greenleaf Music) confronts me with a distinct development. He has made strides. And in unexpected ways.

This one brings together 13 musicians--it's Ulery on bass with pianist Rob Clearfield, drummer Jon Deitemyer (his trio), with violinist Zack Brock, vocalist Grazyna Auguscik, and the acclaimed chamber ensemble eighth blackbird. Knowing Matt's very lyrical way this automatically sounded interesting to me. The album surpasses anything I might have imagined.

This is music that combines a harmonic and rhythmic jazz sensibility with song form, minimalism and romanticism for a sort of "third stream" effort that succeeds hauntingly.

It is so very lyrical in an earnest, heartfull way that it is bound to appeal to all kinds of listeners. Yet underneath there is real substance to the music. The arrangements are well put-together and work without question.

Is it jazz? Not always and not entirely, but forget the label and you may well find yourself under the sway of the music! In its own way it is brilliant. It's too lyrical to be in the "out" category and it does not swing or rock out much at all. So what?

It is music to haunt you! Excellent.

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