Blue Cranes — Swim
(Cuneiform Rune 364, 2013, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-06-12Perhaps it's a good thing that I've never heard anything by Blue Cranes before; I can approach this release with a fresh perspective and open mind, with no previous baggage to carry along. But it needs to be said that this is the Portland, Oregon based band's fourth full length release. The first thing that jumps out at the listener is the dual-sax front line of Reed Wallsmith and Joe Cunningham on alto and tenor respectively. Their purpose through most of the nine tracks here is a disciplined dedication to melody, and not a lot of free blowing solos. This is jazzy at times, sometimes very much so, but it's not jazz in the classic sense, but a touch more chamber in nature with some jazzy embellishments. Oh, and did I mention that it rocks? Oh yeah, at times it sure does, but the band is void of guitars; instead, all that middle ground is handled by the piano and keyboards of Rebecca Sanborn; and the rhythm section of Keith Brush (acoustic bass) and Ji Tanzer (drums) ties it all together nicely with a busy everpresence that supports the effort but doesn't overwhelm the sound. Their compositions (most by Cunningham and Wallsmith) offer sincere melodic strength and emotion that one can take away from the listen, and they vary in timbre, scope, and style enough to keep this interesting all the way through. Just when the train is about to fly off the tracks, they'll calm it down with a gentle pastoral piece that puts it all in perspective. This is a disc that begs for repeat plays.
Related artist(s): Blue Cranes
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