Jeremy Udden – Plainville – Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 330, 49:03 ****1/2:
(Jeremy Udden – alto and soprano saxophone, cymbals; Pete Rende – pump organ, Fender Rhodes, pedal steel guitar, Prophet; Brandon Seabrook – banjo, electric guitar, steel string acoustic guitar; Eivind Opsvik – bass; R. J. Miller – drums; with guests)
It’s not as if this hasn’t been done before. Similar approaches include work by Brian Blade, Floratone (and other Bill Frisell outings), Tin Hat Trio, The Velvet Gentlemen, Michael Blake, and Jenny Scheinman. But the closest analog is a somewhat obscure disc released in 2006 by Robert Stillman called Horses. Both recordings share a kind of loopy, off-kilter folk jazz vibe, similar instrumentation (including saxophone as the main lead voice), and, most importantly, drummer Miller and pump organ-player Rende. These two stamp the proceedings with a very attractive faux-primitive sensibility. The fact that two coasts (left and right) separate the outings is less important than what unites them.
Highlights include the very Charles Lloyd-ish (circa Voice in the Night) “695”; the quiet beauty of the title track, evoking a gorgeous autumn day in New England; the roots-rocklike “Curbs”; “Christmas Song,” which builds slowly a very attractive loping feel; “The Reunion,” sounding like Lennon/McCartney meets the Claudia Quintet—very attractive, in other words; and the haunting, atmospherically charged “Empty Lots” evoking Peter Epstein’s great disc, The Invisible.
All in all, quite a debut from Jeremy Udden, a jazzman who has a very bright future if Plainville is any indication.
Red Coat Lane
– Jan P. Dennis