Polished and bright contemporary jazz debut
from a Philadelphia based woodwind player/composer/arranger/educator Ian O'Beirne, who is bari saxist in the Glenn Miller Orchestra, leads his big band dubbed "Slowburn" - when not immersed in music, he delves into the intricacies of chess strategy. Aiding his flight on alto and tenor (#1-2, 5-6, 11) saxophones on this album is a roster of more than talented young musicians in their twenties/early thirties: Tim Wendel brings clear tone and warmth of a guitar reminiscent of Jim Hall; graduates of the local Temple University, Tim Brey provides stylish accompaniment and improvs on rhodes piano, and Matt Scarano contributes his excellent drumwork; while Kurt Kotheimer (b. 1979) locks in with the tight rhythm section on upright acoustic bass. For the great audio quality and perfect balance of featured instruments big thanks go to the recording engineer Tom Spiker, Jim McGee (mastering) and producer/guitarist Mike Lorenz (for his quintet debut also featuring drummer Scarano, see "Of the Woods" (2011)), all three in Pennsylvania.
Song highlights, in my tentative order of preference, include: the groove based funk #4 'halifax/parallax' switching to chromatic bop unison for the second segment that serves as a platform for exchange between O'Beirne and Wendel; the colourful #7 'my spirit' with Latin flavour and gurgling rhodes elaboration, which is followed by the equally memorable 'no stalgia'. #9 'paradigm city' offers layered build-up, clear vistas, athletic sax-keys-guitar unisons, etc. #2 'duel' is a driving piece with a club feel and rhodes solo, among others.
On the rest of the tracks we find accessible melodies, nice phrasing, neat chordal progressions, motif and/or rhythm oriented sax passages, so forth...For instance, #2 'sea of stars' turns out to be a more traditional piece the same way the slow waltz #5 'dreamwake' is. True to its title #10 'epitaph' is a brooding elegy, whereas the concluding song #11 'sarah sings' is a kind of rock anthem w/ fusionesque guitar and a tenor sax gradually gaining momentum. Total time: 65.01 min. - gladly recommended!