Naomi Moon Siegel – Live at Earshot – [TrackList follows] – Slow & Steady/Break Open BOR-CD109, 53:40 [5/17/19] ****:
Naomi Moon Siegel – trombone, producer; Wayne Horvitz – piano; Sean Woolstenhulme – electric guitar; Eric Eagle – drums; Thione Diop – percussion (tracks 6-7); Geoff Harper – upright bass
Trombonist, composer and educator Naomi Moon Siegel melds folk melodies with jazz soundscapes and knotted grooves, generating jazz which goes beyond jazz. Siegel’s material is on complete display on her sophomore album, the 54-minute Live at Earshot, taped in October 2017 during Seattle’s Earshot Music Festival at PONCHO Concert Hall at Cornish College of the Arts. The nine-track program reimagines tunes from Siegel’s 2016 debut, Shoebox View, as well as new work which explores the mindscape and landscape of her home in Missoula, MT (Siegel previously lived in Seattle).
The imbued music features a group fronted by Siegel; along with pianist Wayne Horvitz (an important pillar of Seattle’s jazz/improv scene and an adjunct professor of composition at Cornish College of the Arts); guitarist Sean Woolstenhulme (previously in LA-based rock bands Lifehouse and The Calling; and later was in the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex); drummer Eric Eagle (credits include Seattle bassist Jeff Johnson, alt-country combo Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter and Horvitz); bassist Geoff Harper (who has recorded with trombonist Julius Priester, trumpeter Thomas Marriott and Horvitz); and on two tracks, Senegalese percussionist Thione Diop.
The live outing begins with a new composition, the nearly five-minute “Fullness of Time,” inspired by Missoula’s Rattlesnake Creek. The tune evolves over a repeating groove highlighted by Eagle’s drumming patterns, while piano, trombone, bass and electric guitar fashion an upsurge which rises with elastic endeavor. Up next is the folk/Americana-tinted “Electric Flower,” originally on Shoebox View. This six-minute version showcases Siegel’s ability to ally her musical ideas in gradual ways. “Electric Flower”— penned in 2012 during a Costa Rican trip—is coupled to Siegel’s thoughts on juxtaposition, or how something natural (a flower, for example, or music) is often tied to something involving electronics (such as a digital photo of a flower, or how music is recorded, amplified or performed with electronic equipment such as speakers, microphones or heard on laptops, radios or smartphones). Two other works composed in Costa Rica in 2014, and also from Shoebox View, are presented: “Punta Uva” and “Ukelady.” The 7:32 “Punta Uva” retains a mix of placidity and tension with a folk-like vibe akin to some albums by Bill Frisell or Pat Metheny. It is easy while hearing “Punta Uva”—named after a Costa Rican beach—to envisage rolling prairies, wide grasslands, spans of tall trees and an aura of open space. The shorter “Ukelady” has a bluesy approach and evokes a Southern sensibility and elicits comparisons to Ralph Towner, Metheny and likeminded artists. Siegel’s trombone and Woolstenhulme’s guitar create a distinct three-dimensional eminence which is both ambient and loosened.
Rhythm becomes a larger portion of the arrangements on two pieces with percussionist Diop. First, there is “Jeannine’s Joy,” which is dedicated to Siegel’s wife. The seven-minute avowal has a rhythmically-complex harmonic structure with a Diop percussion introduction which acts as a ramp to a productive, tonally resourceful full-group standpoint. Siegel and Woolstenhulme align, trading and mingling melodic and improvisational statements. Second there is “Jaam Rek,” co-composed by Diop and Siegel in 2015 but premiered at the Earshot Festival. It is an acknowledgement to Seattle’s now-shuttered Jaam Rek Studios, which was a central hub of Seattle’s music community. The eight-minute track has an offhand, somewhat African essence. The tempo begins slow and steady but then quickens after the introduction. Siegel layers in some grooving trombone, Woolstenhulme crafts a Jamaican-tinted guitar tone which later changes to a rock stance, and Diop and Eagle collaborate on heady drum and percussion tiers.
The album closes with two numbers which denote different geographic areas. The five-minute “Mama Sanchaba” memorializes a Gambian matriarch and her family. “Mama Sanchaba”—which Siegel wrote subsequent to a visit to a beach which belonged to the Sanchaba family—has a quiet, reflective posture which fits the sense of remembering a woman who has passed away but whose spiritual presence continues to affect a specific environment in addition to kinfolk, friends and visitors. “Mama Sanchaba” is highlighted by a sublime Harper bass solo as well as Woolstenhulme’s folk-inclined, Frisell-esque guitar lines. Siegel concludes with “Fortifying Love,” a 7:23 tune of hope and optimism, written after a hike along Rattlesnake Creek. Siegel mentions the piece is a musical cleansing in the aftershock of the 2016 presidential election. “It was such a discombobulating time, being in a new state [Siegel had recently moved to Montana], with a new president in office, who was all about fear, hatred and power,” she reveals. She continues, “The song is a reminder to keep strengthening love and the humanization of all people.” Live at Earshot is introspective and celebratory, intimate and comprehensive. It is a declaration of purpose and an expressive jazz documentation. Live at Earshot is the sound of an artist making music with an individual style and noticeable creativity.
Fullness of Time
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