Jason Randall Smith
Awe-inspiring sound exploration
There will always be artists and fans that staunchly draw lines in the sand in order to champion one aspect of music over another. Perhaps some favor acoustic sounds to electronic or live instrumentation over sample-heavy production. Such divisions can be found throughout all musical genres and jazz has certainly seen its share of debates. Widely considered America’s classical music, a sea of raised eyebrows and clucking tongues can be heard whenever jazz musicians begin to deviate from acoustic pastures and dive headfirst into the digital domain. However, that’s exactly where Dave Painchaud finds himself, taking along his trusty trumpet and flugelhorn for the harmonic freefall.
Tales Told And Journeys Imagined is what happens when a seasoned session player dares to hole himself up in a studio and ask that dangerous question, “What if?” Make no mistake, jazz remains at the nucleus of this project, but electronic music is allowed to have a say as well. This opens up avenues of exploration that these genres might not have been able to explore fenced off from each other. The trip begins with “Making An Entrance,” a contemporary jazz gem propelled by funk-infused bass and drum programming. Painchaud’s trumpet playing recalls the unmistakable cool of Miles Davis, weaving in and out of chord changes with fluid movements. That same confidence is on display on “Searching And Ruminating,” which slows down the tempo to a contemplative pace. Painchaud effortlessly floats across the hushed accompaniment, adding an air of sophistication and class with every note he plays. Had he chose to simply stay within this harmonic climate for the entire album, the listener would be undoubtedly satisfied, particularly with teasers like “Session Rides.” It’s a 90-second peek into a romantic jazz waltz with Painchaud taking the lead, improvising a stellar solo that will make you wish you were a fly on the wall for the entire session.
However, this project wasn’t meant to stay within one aural environment for long, and bridges are built between genres with each selection. Whether it’s Painchaud giving a nod to Tchaikovsky and his love for classical music on “Pizz Osti Redux” or the sprawling, amorphous ambience of “Passage To Nain,” every song acts as a doorway to new sonic possibilities. It could be argued that the trumpet acts as a stabilizing presence throughout the album. As the bells chime and the tablas mark the rhythmic path of “In Transit,” the trumpet’s melody rises above the arrangement, serving as a beacon for uninitiated ears. “Spring Blossom Process” is built from a series of music box twinkles, thumb piano plucks, and a warbling bass line as its foundation. The brass section represents the last building block, which leads the composition to a grand fanfare.
The album concludes with “Up Number Indigo,” a suite in three movements that thrusts the listener into the most experimental and challenging portion of the album. The first movement, “Approaching The Anomaly,” is a mixture of syncopated percussion, radio transmissions, and bursts of random noise that flood the speakers and then disintegrate, leaving as suddenly as it came. “Curative Transfer” is second in line, an 11-minute slice of sonic utopia that brings the work of Steve Reich to mind. The trumpet and flugelhorn add layers of warmth to the tranquility provided by the sparkling chimes and underlying bass tone. “The Arrival At Indigo And The Promise Of Summer” brings the suite to a close with triumphant brass blasts that signal the end of a mind-expanding journey. The risks that Dave Painchaud took to complete Tales Told And Journeys Imagined were well worth it, creating an awe-inspiring sound exploration that captures the best of several genres and weaves them skillfully into an ambitious album.