Lindsey Horner – Undiscovered Country – ArtistShare AS0105, 64:31 ****:
(Lindsey Horner – bass, low whistle, Bb whistle; bass clarinet, baritone saxophone, harmonium; Allison Miller – drums; Jeff Berman – marimba, percussion, mountain dulcimer; Erwin Vann – tenor saxophone; Rob Thomas – violin; Colter Harper – electric guitar, Augustin Foly – electric guitar; Chris Cunningham – acoustic guitar; Randy Crofton – percussion; Andy Irvine – vocals, mandola, harmonica, bouzuki.)
Bassist Lindsey Horner has been described as tricky to categorize. His background includes four CDs with the critically acclaimed Myra Melford Trio, and collaborations with Bill Frisel, Greg Osby, Bobby Previte, Dave Douglas and Muhal Richard Abrams. He is a member of Jewels and Binoculars/ Michael Moore, Lindsay Horner and Michael Vatcher Play Music of Bob Dylan. Musical involvement with various European and Irish artists has resulted in a plethora of recording and performance ventures. In the role as bandleader, he has produced a quartet of innovative jazz albums.
Undiscovered Country is an ambitious seven title collection that runs over an hour in length. Horner has assembled a diverse, eclectic group of musicians, utilizing a wide array of instruments. The pieces are very complex, resulting in extended jams of harmonic symmetry by the unique combination of strings, woodwinds and percussion. The opening title track gets off to a rollicking start. A pulsating base and guitar are joined by a baritone sax (Horner) that leads to a guitar solo by Colter Harper, and dual tempo violin solos by Rob Thomas. The ensemble shines on “All That Seems To Be, Is Not/All That Seems Not To Be, Is” as an infectious harmony is synthesized with the addition of marimba by Jeff Berman, who also turns in a terse, nimble solo. Erwin Vann adds some texture with his assured tenor saxophone. Horner’s bass lines are cohesive and discerning, contributing to the melody and interacting with the rhythm sections. “I Like It Because I Like It” takes on a funky, groove-filled context that gives the musicians some room to cultivate another approach to explore their collective dynamic. Throughout the album, Horner lends his deft touch on tempura, harmonium, whistles, clarinet, sax and bass.
Guest artist Andy Irvine makes a substantial contribution. On “John Barlow”, a traditional Scottish ballad, he delivers a classical folk vocal, invoking a Celtic accent on the bouzuki. “In The Garden” supplements a slower acoustic number with mandola and subtle percussion by Allison Miller and Randy Crafton.
This project was completed under the auspices of ArtistShare. The focus is for listeners and fans to participate in the project, via the internet, a burgeoning practice in the last decade. (Note: Lee Ritenour auditioned musicians through YouTube for his 6 String Theory album.) The liner notes offer some insights into the concepts of song selection and conceptualizations. Horner provides a fresh take on what is possible in the experimental realm.
TrackList: Undiscovered Country; In The Garden; All That Seems To Be, Is Not/All That Seems Not To Be, Is; Paradise Touch; John Barlow; I Like It Because I Like It; Low Life.
— Robbie Gerson