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Album Review

Alto saxophonist Jeremy Udden's second CD as a leader represents a circuitous route from his roots to the world at large and back. His debut recording, Torchsongs, following a fruitful stint as a lead soloist for the Either/Orchestra, featured music written while Udden suffered from severe vertigo. After recovering and doing some touring, he hearkened back to his suburban Boston roots, and Plainville (the actual name of the town he grew up in) inspired the writing that comprises this recording. Where his previous band was made up of handpicked all-stars, this group is made up of emerging modern jazz peers, including keyboardist and producer Pete Rende, string player Brandon Seabrook, bassist Eivind Opsvik, and drummer R.J. Miller. The rural quality of Plainville is depicted in the music, a folk-jazz amalgam that retains a contemporary sound due to electric guitar inserts and a current, smart-style, beat-flavored funk, though the sounds are not dependent on a heavy R&B style. The sound of Seabrook's banjo is a key element in this music, as the title track expresses a rural, country sound as Rende's swelling pump organ and Miller's train-like brush work coalesce with Udden's lead, similar to the music of Bill Frisell. Similarly "Empty Lots" has that down-home feeling but is more downtrodden, a breathing organic style that allows the musicians to slowly inhale and exhale. "The Reunion" has that singable down-home style of Sunday afternoon at the park via the string players, while "Christmas Song" and "Red Coat Lane" are waltzes, the former folkish and sweet as can be, the latter a circus elephant stomp accented by Seabrook's banjo plunks. "695" somewhat tosses aside the rural trappings in a loping and concise mood via Seabrook's steel string acoustic guitar alongside Opsvik's Latin style bass and Udden's sleek alto. "Modest" is indeed that and more, sporting a spare, lyrical melody that approaches quaint. The more updated tracks include "Curbs" with its razor-sharp funk, loud electric guitar, and Rende's Fender Rhodes amplified piano, adding two-chord pop hooks into the mix, while "Big Lick" is a romping, churning contemporary funk. This is a perfectionist's music, and a personal concept from Udden's heart and soul that speaks in a universal way to all of us. Just because you are not familiar with his name should not allow you to pass this excellent recording by. It speaks directly to the parent, child, orphan, or family unit all of us ultimately wish we had, and can always come home to. Plainville — hardly plain — comes recommended to all. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Plainville, Jeremy Udden
View in iTunes
  • $8.91
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Feb 01, 2008

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